Memories of a Fire in February


A Quiet February Afternoon

Author's Note: pmorries, a fellow hubber encouraged me to explore a genre outside of essays and poems. He suggested a fictionalized story set in World War II, but fiction is not my forte. But our conversations stayed with me and so I began culling through my life experiences and it seemed a worthwhile endeavor to write about the February Fire.

It was late afternoon and I was in the middle of cooking dinner, some casserole I think - I don't remember what kind. My two older boys, Jason and Brian, were not at home; they stayed after school to play basketball. My youngest son Chad was supposed to be doing his homework in his bedroom, although I knew he was probably reading a science fiction novel. But reading is always a good thing and as long as he finished his homework before bedtime, I wasn't terribly concerned about precisely when the homework got done.

My husband wasn't due home for another couple of hours, plenty of time to finish dinner and do some more reading for my Wednesday history classes. My graduate school courses were fascinating, but they were an incredible amount of work. For months and months I had been getting by on four hours of sleep each night, and so naturally I took every opportunity to read and study while doing other things, like cooking.

It was mid February, but it was one of those bizarre Georgia winters that seem more like early spring. It was pleasant outside, nice enough to have the kitchen windows open and the three cats were lazing around in patches of sunlight. Outside the forsythia bushes were blooming, two months early. I think I was wearing sandals as I puttered around the kitchen, reading, chopping, reading, stirring.

Chad, came tearing into the kitchen, screaming incoherently. He was pointing back down the hallway toward the end of the house where the bedrooms were, and after a moment I was able to understand him. “The bedroom is on fire. There is a fire!" I followed him down the hallway and as I came to the door of his bedroom waves of heat rolled over me. Chad and Brian shared a bedroom and slept on old government issue metal bunk beds. The mattress and cotton sheets on the lower bunk bed were burning furiously and I had no idea why. Chad burst into tears. It’s my fault! I found a lighter and I was playing with it!

I hugged him fiercely and ran to the bathroom just across the hallway; I turned the water on in the bathtub full force. I grabbed every towel hanging in the bathroom and threw them into the tub, told Chad I needed his help, and sent him to the linen closet to gather more towels. As soon as the towels were soaking wet I threw them onto the burning bed. Meanwhile, Chad, no longer crying, kept throwing more towels into the tub. I made four trips back and forth; on the fifth trip I realized that the mattress and quilt on the top bunk were also on fire in spite of all our efforts. The fire was spreading rapidly.

Finally, the heat was so intense I could not re-enter the room. During the five minutes when I had been trying to put out the fire, the bedroom had been filling up with a dark gray-black smoke -- in the real world fires do not look like the house and apartment fires depicted on television, not at all. You are surrounded by flames, but your vision is almost entirely obscured by thick smoke.


Calling 911

Smoke began spilling out into the hallway limiting our vision and burning our throats. I rushed my son out the front door with instructions to go to our neighbor’s house across the street, call 911, and then stay there. He started running and I panicked momentarily, fearing he would run across the street into the path of a car. With my heart in my throat, I watched to make sure he made it safely across the street to the neighbor’s yard.

On the other side of the road, my neighbor Linda had just come out on her porch because she smelled the smoke which was pouring out of all the bedroom windows. She rushed Chad inside and they called 911. As the other two bedrooms caught fire and smoke kept filling up the house, I turned on the attic fan in a frantic and mindless attempt to eliminate some of the smoke. A fire marshal told me later that the attic fan had accelerated the fire. Sometimes you unknowingly exacerbate an already tragic situation.

After making sure that all three cats were safely outside, I grabbed my car keys, purse, and three large binders of history lectures that a professor at the university had lent me. They belonged to someone else; I couldn’t let them be destroyed in the fire.

By then half the house was on fire, but there was a phone at the far end of the house by the back door and I headed that way, thinking about picture albums, books, my mother’s dishes, and the years worth of research notes on the computer. I desperately wanted to gather all those things up and take them with me, but my arms were full of binders and the smoke was getting thicker and closer. I stopped near the back door and called 911.

It's strange what happens when you are suddenly under immense stress. I knew the moment I called 911 and they picked up, that my address would automatically appear on the computer screen in front of them. Our county had adopted that system some years earlier. Even as I was dialing, I could see someone with a head set sitting in front of a computer screen in a dimly lit room.

Nevertheless, when the telephone operator answered I shouted my address at him. Actually, I shouted it twice in a row, as if he were deaf, and just in case he didn't get it the first time. Even while I was shouting, part of me knew he wasn’t actually writing down what I was saying. While the adrenaline rushing through my veins was making me shout like a madwoman, the 911 operator was busy sending the information electronically to the nearest fire station.

He asked me if he should send an ambulance and I said no. He asked me if everyone was out of the house and I said yes. He told me to hang up the phone immediately and leave the house. For some reason I hesitated like there was something else I could do, like there was something else I ought to do.

He raised his voice and shouted at me, "Get out of the house. Leave now!" I dropped the phone and left through the back door just as the last room started filling up with an oily, acrid smoke. I dumped the binders and purse into the back of the family station wagon, which was parked within a foot or two of a big glass bay window.


Watching the House Burn

Above the sound of the fire’s crackling and popping, I could hear the mournful sound of the fire engines in the distance, it wouldn’t be long… but the windows in the bedroom where the fire started had already exploded outward. It seemed sensible and necessary to move the family station wagon away from the house before the windows on that end exploded, so I did. For a couple of minutes, I stood alone in the front yard watching the house burn.

While literally watching my life and home go up in flames, I thought about how less than eight months earlier, my maternal grandmother and my paternal grandfather had both suddenly died within three weeks of each other. The previous fall my sister failed out of graduate school where we had both been pursuing a doctorate in history -- and my husband had been making noises about the advisability of going our separate ways just as soon as I graduated. Then the house caught fire and my very best efforts to put it out were simply not enough.

It was simply too much, so for about ninety seconds I raged against God and shouted to the heavens about the incredible harshness and unfairness of life. God didn’t speak to me audibly, not that I exactly expected him to, but somehow shouting made me feel calmer. Calm is really not the right word, maybe what I felt was resigned, resigned and determined.

My sons, twelve, fourteen, and sixteen, were aware of their father’s desire to move on with his life elsewhere. For their sake someone had to be strong, someone needed to be resilient and help them deal with the loss of everything they owned. So I was resigned and determined. The fire trucks arrived and the firemen set about containing the fire. They were quick, effective, and surprisingly tender and kind. My younger brother is a fireman, and although he was not assigned to the same station house, they knew him, and I somehow found that oddly comforting.

My older sons arrived to see what looked like a giant smoldering carcass and my husband arrived shortly thereafter. A casual friend up the street invited us to come stay the night with them; that night turned into four months. She became, and still is, my very best friend in the world.

They were wonderful to take us in, but their house was only so big, so my two older sons went to stay with their grandparents who lived about ten blocks away. Meanwhile, I worried about how my sons were doing emotionally and I worried about passing my university exams, but I didn’t cry. Truthfully, I didn’t feel like crying … I don’t think I felt much of anything, but tired and determined.


Christmas Decorations

Four months later we moved back into our mostly empty house. The boys were promoted to the next grade at the end of the year and continued playing basketball. I managed to pass comprehensive history exams at the university the summer after we moved back into the house. Family and friends were incredibly supportive and helpful. I began working on the dissertation and we all seemed to settle into a fairly comfortable routine of school and work. Life seemed good, bearable, almost normal.

The months of autumn rolled by full of bracing winds and colorful leaves -- my favorite time of year. We had a lovely Thanksgiving with my husband’s parents and we were looking forward to the Christmas holidays when things would slow down a little, more time for family and friends. For some years I had been in the habit of getting all the Christmas decoration boxes out of the attic the weekend after Thanksgiving. The following weekend we would go to a tree farm and cut down a fresh tree, a family tradition we had begun when our three boys were quite young.

Everyone but me had gone to see a Saturday afternoon movie – which meant it was a good time to get the Christmas boxes down and sort through them. I headed down the hallway, pulled down the attic ladder, and climbed up… and stared into my completely empty attic. There were no boxes of ornaments or strings of lights, no boxes of baby clothes, no boxes of family mementos, no handmade quilts, no handmade cowboy outfits now outgrown, no tangible trace remained of our family history, all had been erased.

As my eyes filled with tears, I stumbled down the ladder and collapsed on the floor weeping. I wailed as if my heart were broken. Demetrius, one of the cats, knowing something was terribly wrong came and crawled into my lap. Through all the tears, I knew that my family was safe, that we had been incredibly fortunate, that things are just things and can always be replaced, but still I kept crying.

I even felt ashamed of my unseemly and inappropriate emotions. At last, the tears seemed exhausted and I tried to make sense of the huge difference in what I knew to be true, that we were so blessed to have each other, and what I felt … bereft, cheated, wounded, abandoned, stripped of possessions, which certainly did not mirror our reality.

My feelings made no sense, because we had possessions: the Red Cross made sure we had clothes and beds, friends helped us with dishes, sheets, and towels, our house had a reasonable amount of furniture in it. I sat on the floor trying to disentangle my emotions from the reality that surrounded me. We did not want for anything. And I knew I wasn’t really weeping over things, a chair, a table, a lamp.

What I missed and desperately wanted were the things that cradled and carried my family history; the things that brought back the sights and sounds and smells of my sons when they were little boys. We had pictures of course, even pictures of previous Christmas trees, but they paled in comparison to the yearly experience of unpacking the handmade ornaments one by one.


We Are Tactile Beings By Design

I remember gently holding each ornament in my hands, and being transported back to that particular Christmas in our lives and all the sweet memories would come flooding in – who helped me make the ornaments that year, who had just lost their first tooth, who had just learned to ride a bicycle, what kind of music were we listening to then, who came to our house on the 24th for a Polish Christmas Eve dinner. All the tender memories of a life together were tightly bound up in the physical objects from that time.

I wanted to be able to open the boxes with the boy’s clothing and find the cowboy outfits I made for them, little denim vests with little red and silver embroidered sheriff’s stars…and the “oh so cool” superman and batman capes, and the crazy Halloween costumes, and the soft flannel pajamas. To take those things out of the box one at a time, unfold them, smooth out the wrinkles, then refold them -- was to relive those sweet years when my boys were young and we had nothing more pressing to do than pick dandelions or play in the rain.

In the bottom of each box would have been the quilt I made for Jason, Brian, and Chad. I remember shopping for the fabrics and the boys insisting on a denim navy blue border, because after all denim and the color navy were “manly” and at six, eight, and ten they needed to be manly. They wouldn’t have known to use the word masculine then.

They didn’t want me to make them a girlie or sissy quilt, something to be embarrassed by when friends came over to spend the night. But I didn’t. I made striking and colorful, but still “young boy masculine” quilts in shades of blue and red with bits of yellow here and there. Strong primary colors for my strong and beautiful sons.

Whenever I held the quilts I could see them laughing and bouncing up and down on their beds; I could see the quilts draped across chairs to make caves, forts, and other boyish fantasies; I could watch as a stream of sweet bedtime hugs and kisses paraded through my mind. Fine evenings when I slipped under the quilt with my youngest while I read him a bed time story; evenings when I sat cross-legged on the bed on top of the quilt while we said our prayers together. Evenings when ….

It really isn’t the possessions we lose in fires and floods that so wound our hearts; it is the loss of those special tangible things that poignantly help remind us of our shared history. When life gets too busy, when children are nearly grown, when life – for whatever reason, becomes sad - almost more than we can bear… mothers, maybe fathers too, instinctively return to what we can touch, to those things we can hold close.

We are very much tactile beings and those things we can touch are proof certain of the life we have lived, of the good and joyous moments we have shared, and the sad ones too. And of course our past is also part and parcel of the present and strengthens and enables us to stand up and move forward to keep loving and to keep creating memories. New memories to add to the ones we already hold dear in our hearts.


More by this Author

Your Comments Are Welcome and Appreciated 37 comments

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Just to let you know I started reading, but set it aside. This one I will honor by setting aside time to truly enjoy. It is like a new best seller that just came out!

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

Theresa....This one outdoes any fiction you could have written! The story is spellbinding--all the more so because it is a real life experience.

I am a very sentimental person who values photos and mementoes of my life and the people I love more than any other material possession.

Fire, however, does not respect sentiment. As you sadly learned many years ago, it takes only a few minutes for a blaze to spread and all those mementoes--the photo albums, homemade Christmas decorations, saved children's clothing and quilts--to be destroyed. While you realized that your family's safety was the most important outcome of the fire, and household goods were easily replaced, nothing could or can replace those lost mementoes that engendered memories by sight and touch.

Voted Up, Awesome and Beautiful--Shared.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Eric - Thank you. You are an "encourager," a gentleman, and a good friend. Theresa

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Oh Dearest Theresa (phdast), Praise God there was no loss of life. I am so sorry you had to experience such. I am glad you shared your story here, and it was written to keep one reading and reading for sure! Your emotions were truly justified in experiencing such a tramatic event. At times, when something tragic happens, and we know it is up to us to be the glue that keeps the family together and be strong for others, we tend to go through the motions of doing what we must do to survive and keep others safe and at peace.

I am glad you finally were able to weep as those flood of emotions came to the surface, as a good release, which I am sure were being held in for so long.

Yes, it is not the material things that are so valuable, but those things we hold close to our hearts such as photos and those items that bring back special family memories and the like. I know I have always said if we ever do have a fire and all persons are safely out, the only thing I want to make sure I grab are the photo albums, but now you have me thinking of those other precious things that one holds so dear to our hearts.

God bless you and your family and for being such a strong woman.

True life experiences in writing to me are always better writes, at least to me, as I am a non-fiction writer for the most part. Well, everything I write is based on a true life experience in some manner.

So many times when there is a fire, it is not the fire that kills, it is the smoke!

Hugs and love, Faith Reaper

Ericdierker profile image

Ericdierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

Theresa, I generally rail against the material. But after reading I took a walk around my house, everything from worn out shoes to coffee cups to squirt guns, to t-shirts gave off a comforting vibe. It is not the thing that we covet it is the memories they hold. I suppose as long as we do not hold on too tightly and stay focused, "things" are not so bad. Thank you for a perspective changing article.

old albion profile image

old albion 3 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Hi Theresa. A harrowing story indeed. You are all safe now,and the pictures of you family are really nice. Life can be so cruel in many ways. You found the strength you needed, be proud.


Theater girl profile image

Theater girl 3 years ago from New Jersey

what an uplifting hub! You have strength and grace to pull yourself and your family through this!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello Jaye - Thank you for your kind and encouraging words. I love your sentence, "Fire, however, does not respect sentiment." Oh, how true that is. Mercifully, most of our picture albums and the computer with all my dissertation materials were in the den by the back door, so there was some smoke damage, but the firemen got there before the fire could devour that room. I feel such sympathy for people who lose all their pictures in a fire. I still ocasionally find myself thinking, "I should show the grandchildren my ........" Then I realize that what ever I had in mind was in the boxes in the attic or in one of the bedroom closets. Still pulls me up short. Thanks again. Theresa

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Good morning Eric - Like you, I have generally resisted the siren call of American materialism. People and time with people, over possessions any day! I think it was the Christmas Decoration Meltdown that made me see why we do cling to some "things" so intensely (sometimes people, including me, are just greedy and have no common sense), so I guess that was a "perspective changing" event for me on several levels. Thanks for your insightful comments. Theresa

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello Graham - Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful and kind remarks, Blessings. Theresa

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

I'm so glad you didn't try to do this in a poem. The story is so well-told, with detail and (my favorite) telling facts. You put us there on the front lawn with you. We've all had our moments yelling at God. I think it testimony of how much he loves us that he lets us do that without striking us with a lightning bolt.

I liked this so much I'll let the comment about the best friend pass (!). Can she do this: SHARING

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

I always fear fires, thanks for sharing a very personal experience!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Dear Faith - Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful words. We were so blessed that no one was injured or died, not even our sweet kitties. I think you are right - when you know that someone has to be the glue, somehow you find the strength to hold everything together. I suppose my Christmas Decoration weeping was long overdue, almost ten months.

I do agree with you the most important things are pictures and albums and then maybe boxes of letters, if you have things like that. I had about a hundred handwritten letters from my mother, but fortunately they were in the less damaged end of the house, so they were saved.

You and I are both non-fiction writers, for sure. When Patrick gently challenged me to write a short story, I did think about it and there was absolutely nothing all! So I wrote a story, recollection from my own life. Even with poetry, there is almost always an experience or something that gets the poem started for me. :)

Thanks so much for responding. Blessings! Theresa

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Evening rebecca - Fires are fearsome and terrible things, we are right to be afraid. And thn I think of all the benefits and blessings of a controlled fire: light, warmth, protection for the wild, cooked food, sterilized water and milk, chemical reactions...the list goes on and on. I bet there must be many many poems out there about the positives and negatives of fire. Thanks for reading and commenting. Blessings. Theresa

BNadyn profile image

BNadyn 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

Thats awful to hear, stay strong and prayers sent her way!

BNadyn profile image

BNadyn 3 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

Im sorry just realized I posted that comment on here, was meant for time traveler! Im on my phone typing this so it clicked on here. And for your hub, I wanted to write that fires are such scary events and thank goodness you all got out okay. Thanks for sharing your story!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi BNadyn - No problem.. I am so glad that people are leaving timetraveler2 encouraging comments. :)

They are very scary and we were so fortunate to all be OK. You are welcome and thanks for reading and commenting. Hope you are having a great week. :)

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 3 years ago from Shelton

I wonder who first coined the phrase Stranger than fiction.. the details are clearer and when you write fiction the elements of facts must follow.. im off track here.. You recollection of the fire must have brought back a flood of emotions long past.. sometimes its just good to release locked stories that stains the mind.. I do that and then work them into fiction.. a wonderful share is all Im trying to say ...:)

aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 3 years ago from American Southwest

Ever since a forest fire reached four houses away from my parents' house, where many of my own things were stored, I have thought often about how fire reminds us that we bring nothing into this world and we can take nothing out of it. Losing all one's things in a fire is a terrible experience, yet if it results in remembering that treasures in heaven will never be burned up, it could be the most valuable experience in life.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Theater - I appreciate you taking the time to read and to comment. And thank you for an "uplifting comment." Take care. Theresa

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello Frank - It would be interesting to know -- I love that kind of information, both about individual words and phrases. Of course I used to think about the fire a lot. Then after a few years I thought about it less and less, but every now and then something will trigger a flood of memories. It was oddly cathartic to get it down on paper finally. I greatly appreciate you saying that it is a wonderful share. Blesings!

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello aethelthryth - A fire does make you reevaluate your life and your "things." By the time we had been able to replace most of what we lost and fill the house again (it was kind of bare bone basics for a while there) I embarked on a three year rotation of going through all my things and giving away or donating a substantial portion. It took several three year cycles, but I managed to empty a two level garage, I have two empty closets, and I never put anything up in the attic. I hope to leave my hose in a good state so that it will be easy for my sons to close the house. Our treasure is in heaven and there is no need to be "thing-crazy" here on earth. Thanks for reading and commenting. Take care. Theresa

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Kathleen - In a poem? Heaven's no! :) I appreciate the feedback because when I was younger I could never write stories (even my teachers said so). And when the subject is personal and emotional, it is hard for me to evaluate what I have written. If I put you on the front lawn, then that is a good thing. Thanks for letting the "best friend comment" pass and for helping with CreateSpace. I am working on it today while it is fresh. :) Theresa

aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

I am so sorry for your loss, the emotional turmoil, and all the other things that were part of the horrid nightmare. You survived, as did your family. You wrote this so well, that it could be easily visualized. Superb work.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

avian - It was a hard place to go through as a family, Thank you for your sympathy, empathy and such encouraging words. I have never written anything like this before and I wasn't sure I could. I shall keep your last two words in my heart as I write, Blessings. Theresa

KrisL profile image

KrisL 3 years ago from S. Florida


voted "awesome." This is beautiful and beautifully written. I understand your pain and celebrate the richness of your memories, despite the loss of those precious objects.

RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

Having such a fire as part of your past has to be profound. Losses like this are so deeply personal that it takes a long tome to peel all their layers back and think them through. The lessons in them continue to evolve, I think, taking us into the future with new eyes.

Thanks for sharing your experience with perspective drawn from looking back over time. Though I'm sorry for your losses that are not replaceable, I'm thankful that you and your family were safe.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Kris- I appreciate your kind and generous comments. And you are so right, the memories are so much more important that the objects. Take care. Theresa

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stessily 3 years ago

Theresa, Heirlooms have personal value for the stories and images which they release via the senses (seeing them, touching them, etc.) and which they create through memories. Your loss is saddening, as well, for now the only traces of these heirlooms are within you and your children, which makes for a possibly rich interior landscape, but the joy of activating those memories through touch and sight is transmuted, away from the physical arena.

This description really touches me as far as what you lost in the fire: "Whenever I held the quilts I could see them laughing and bouncing up and down on their beds; I could see the quilts draped across chairs to make caves, forts, and other boyish fantasies; I could watch as a stream of sweet bedtime hugs and kisses paraded through my mind. Fine evenings when I slipped under the quilt with my youngest while I read him a bed time story; evenings when I sat cross-legged on the bed on top of the quilt while we said our prayers together. Evenings when …. upon memories to stoke those images and stories, "The months of autumn rolled by full of bracing winds and colorful leaves -- my favorite time of year."

Some of your first writings which I read here were about your grandparents and their artistic legacy; they conveyed such a vivid sense of the presence of artwork, mementoes, of living history in your life. Your appreciation of the stories which certain things contain and tell is not restricted to items for art galleries or museums; you also appreciate the inestimable value of everyday items which encapsulate their own deep, personal stories.

Your reminiscences are beautifully presented. In and of themselves, your words comprise another heirloom, created from the ashes of what you lost in the fire.

Appreciatively, Stessily

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello RT - What an insightful way to describe the process ... it is like peeling back layers and different layers bring different emotions and reactions. Reading the many heartfelt and wonderful responsesto the story had led me to tears several times and further peeling back of layers. I would not have expected to cry again after 20 years, but I certainly am. :) Amd the growing ad learning does keep evolving. Thank you very much, we were and are so grateful that we were all safe. Blessings. Theresa

MrsBrownsParlour profile image

MrsBrownsParlour 3 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

I am very touched by your story, which is written with such engaging clarity. I identify so strongly with the tangible memories that objects hold for us and know how much those losses mean---it's like a piece of ourselves is gone. I wrote a poem about changes and beloved objects, and I don't want it to seem that I am promoting myself in any way, but I thought maybe I could just share it as a comment here for you.

"Pieces of Traditions"

Pieces of traditions align differently each time

The plans and past collide in sometimes unexpected ways

It is not ours to paint a static portrait of events

Instead, evolving kaleidoscopes mosaic all our days

Nostalgia, fragile in its joys, is keenly stained with meaning

Objects link with moments where our loved ones left us traces

Inside the boxes, cherished things hold hands that once held them

Inside our hearts, we feel engraved familiar names and faces

We cook, we talk, we laugh, we cry, and time is full again

Each day brings comforts and surprises, puzzling in their grace

Changes augment patterns in a vivid animation

Newness smooths with mingling, and the pieces fall in place

Blessings to you, Lurana

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Good Morning Lurana - This is my first "story" as opposed to essay or poem. All through school I got C's on poems and stories and A's whenever I wrote an essay. And of course as an academic, it was essays and research papers. So your words "engaging clarity" mean a great deal to me. Objects do indeed hold tangible memories for us -- it almost takes my breath away sometimes because the memories are suddenly so sharp and so vivid.

Thank you for sharing your poem - there is much truth in it. I think my favorite lines are --

We cook, we talk, we laugh, we cry, and time is full again

Each day brings comforts and surprises, puzzling in their grace.

Blessings. Theresa

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Dear Stessily - What an amazing response. :) You are right the memories are internal and do contribute to our inner life and yet we still long for the external sense activators. I wonder if this need is more acute in men than women .... or perhaps we just feel freer to express it.

You are right I did write about my grandparents' art and sculpture and our travels and the mementos, paintings we had. In some ways this hub has come full circle, in part perhaps explaining why this incident made such an impression upon me. Simple everyday things are invested with greater meaning once you have lost them, so true, so true.

I have never written this sort of prose before (all my other stuff before HP was highly academic and structured) and I wasn't sure that I could. (I wrote first person stories in 5th and 6th grade and they were dreadful -- even the teachers said so -- of course I never tried again until quite recently). Your comment "Your reminiscences are beautifully presented. In and of themselves, your words comprise another heirloom, created from the ashes of what you lost in the fire." means the world to me. Every time I read them, tears come to my eyes and I feel a bit more healing takes place in my heart. Bless you for your compassion and generous soul. Theresa

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas

Oh my goodness! Having just experienced a fire just over a year ago, last September, I am incredibly moved by this tale. Thank God we weren't in the house, but we did come home to finish watching it burn and there are pictures others took of the flames. We lost a cat and some memories that simply can't be replaced. . . the mention of Christmas ornaments got to me because I relate to that in particular. So many precious things that have only sentimental value in the end lost, yet everyone safe and sound is the most important thing.

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hello shanmarie - My apologies for taking so long to respond. Its been a very busy fall semester at the university. I am so sorry about your fire and your losses, especially the cat. Until you experience a major fire I don;t think people realize what a devastating loss it can be. Although, of course the most important thing is that the family is OK. Still it is hard to lose all those momentoes that help us with our memories. Blessings. Theresa

shanmarie profile image

shanmarie 3 years ago from Texas

My run on sentences in the last comment - sorry. Haha. You know, it is hard to lose the sentimental things, but life is still good. New doors open. New memories to be made, like making cinnamon applesauce ornaments last.Christmas because we no longer had any.

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phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

shanmarie - i understand about your making the cinnamon applesauce ornaments. For the first five years after the fire, I made a different kind of crafty ornament every year -- enough to put on our tree and plenty to give away to friends and family. Twenty years later I still have them in my Christmas Boxes and they mean a great deal to me. You are building new memories that will be precious for years to come. Blessings. Theresa

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