Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Fire in the Driveway

My grandmother died last week.  It was majorly disappointing for me although not completely unexpected.  She was 97 years old.  So definitely not a spring chick but I haven't been home to the state of my birth since I got married so she'd never had an opportunity to meet my children.  Recently I called my dad up and asked when he was going to be there because we finally have the extra money and time to make these kind of trips happen.  He told me August and so just that week I'd bought tickets to take all my children down there.  I was planning on seeing her, some of my cousins on my mom's side, and my best friends from high school.  It was only a few hours after I bought the tickets that my dad called me to tell me that my grandmother had fallen and broken her femur.  We were on our way out of town to a camping family reunion but I asked him to keep me posted.  These kind of falls in older people can often spell the beginning of the end, in fact my grandmother Marvel died waiting for surgery just two days after breaking a hip but I was holding out hope.  It wasn't that big of a surprise though when my dad texted me the next day to tell me she had died in the middle of the night shortly after surgery.  And so began a frantic race in the mountains to decided what to do, did I drive from camping?  It was closer but I only had three stinky camping outfits.  Did I fly from the state we were in.  The tickets would be cheaper but I'd still only have three stinky camping outfits.  Ultimately I went with the most expensive choice but the most comfortable choice and exchanged my tickets for the next month for the twice as expensive tickets for that week.  

We got home Wednesday night from the camping trip and I immediately started loads of laundry.  Dr. J and the kids emptied the van, hung up the sleeping bags in the garage (which actually are still hanging everywhere), and put all the camping stuff away.  I started packing for the trip...but we were loads of laundry short.  We went to bed though and figured we could get the rest done the next day.  It was probably anxiety but the next day I woke at four am.  I got up finished up the laundry and packing the bags.  Dr. J got up and started signing death certificates and finished some certification he needed.  I decided since the goats were going to be alone for a couple days that I should grab a new bale of hay.  I hoped in the truck and headed to the feed store.  I had just delivered the bale to the coral area and was driving back to the driveway when our neighbor's daughter in law came running toward my truck.  She was yelling and as I got out of the truck I heard her say, "Call 911," I started dialing, my first thought being that either Barb or George had collapsed.  They both have really poor health, but then she yelled, "The RV is on fire."  

For the last probably nine months my neighbors son and daughter have lived in an RV next to the house.  They were there last fall, they were there all winter, they were there all spring.  To be honest I wasn't a huge fan.  There were perks to it.  Like I said before Barb and George are really getting on in years and it was nice knowing Pete was there to care for them and the yard.  He did a lot of projects I know wouldn't have otherwise gotten done.  There were things I was indifferent about.  They have two acres and if they want to part an RV on their property why should I mind.  I happen to have a trailer on mine.  Also I'm all about multi generational living.  My grandparents lived with us when we were kids and I honestly loved it.  If Dr. J's grandparents were willing I'd move them in with us in a second and I fully expect to house my mother or mother in law at some point in their lives.  There was one thing I hated about it though, Pete had the most annoying pets ever.  He had a dog that was constantly barking.  Last Christmas when my sister was here that dog got my sister's dog all worked up.  He'd bark at the kids when they were outside.  He'd bark at me whenever I was doing yard work. It got to the point where I felt like I was always yelling, "Shut up Bruster."  He was outside on a chain and he was just bark, bark, bark.  I get dogs bark and I even think that a dog that barks at people coming to a door is probably a great thing, but when I'm in my own yard trying to do yard work or my kids are trying to jump on the trampoline just shut up.  And for crying out loud when you get off leash don't chase the kids on my property.  They also had a kitten this winter, who became a cat who sat on my back patio all the time.  I didn't mind the sitting so much but it was constantly killing birds and leaving feathers everywhere.  Birds ick me out a little and finding their mutilated corpses every couple of weeks was not helping.  

I did not say a word about this though.  Bard and George are nice neighbors.  They are kind to me and my children and I realized their son had probably fallen on some hard times.  It must have bugged some other neighbors though because apparently someone complained and our HOA sent them a letter telling them that if they didn't remove the RV from the property they would start charging them $50 a day.  So after months of just sitting there they tried to move the RV.  When I left that morning to get the hay I saw them charging the battery.  I guess they just left it to run then in the driveway.  George thinks it got to hot after that, I wonder if it shorted out but by the time I returned half and hour later the thing was smoking.  

After calling 911, I ran in the house to tell J there was a fire and then my mind did a weird thing.  It suddenly occurred to me that when the fire trucks came we were going to be locked into our cul-de-sac.  We were due at the airport to catch a flight in just three hours.  "Babe," I yelled, "Throw the suitcases into the van."  And so suddenly the fact that I'd gotten up so early and packed our bags really came in handy.  The suitcases were just sitting there by the door.  J threw them in the van, I drove out of the cul-de-sac, then we both raced back.  J and Pete both tried to drag hoses over.  Neither was long enough.  By then flames were shooting out of the hood of the RV.  Liquid and fire was dripping out of t0e bottom.  A police officer arrived and ran over with fire extinguisher that was pretty useless by that time.  A fire captain and asked everyone to back up.  I stood there worried that the thing was going to explode.  A few of our neighbors came out and watched the thing burn.  The firetrucks finally arrived and put the fire out.  Then we walked our kids by to the van and left.  The firetrucks were still blocking the cul-de-sac and I was so glad I'd moved the van.  It was scary although luckily no one was hurt.  It was sad because all their belongings were in that RV although luckily neither of their pets were.  Also they had no insurance so there will be no replacing the belongings.  When I got back into town Barb told me they'd moved in with a daughter out of state and that Pete had finally secured work.  Which I'm definitely grateful for that.  I'm also grateful that with the exception of a little singing on the tree the fire didn't spread any further and especially grateful I'd never complained about them living on the property because if I had I'd certainly feel some responsibility for the circumstances that led them to this situation.  





3 comments:

  1. Wow. What a story! I am sorry for the loss of your grandmother, though happy for her that she could move on after a long and full life. And sorry about the loss of the neighbor's property, but happy for you that the annoying pets are gone. This story is a metaphor for life, right--happy and sad all wrapped up together!

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  2. That is crazy! I'm so glad you thought to move your van so you could make it to the airport. How sad for your neighbours though!

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