Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Tale of Two Mother's Days

Mother's Day, Sunday 14th May 1995:
The day of the inaugural Western Derby between the Eagles and the Dockers.  This became known as the 'Mother's Day Massacre' as the reigning premiers, the Eagles, taught the young upstarts a lesson, belting them by 85 points.

What a glorious day that was!

Mother's Day, Sunday 14th May 2017:
Exactly 22 years to the day.  This one was not glorious, but it had nothing to do with football.

We were on our way home from church when we received a call saying that a fire was threatening our house.  Apparently the neighbours had been burning off, but it was a windy day and the fire spread to the bush behind our house, where our rubbish tip was.

I dropped Duncan home, so he could join the local fire brigade (made up of farmers) to help fight the fire.  The boys and I escaped to a friend's house, 10 minutes away.  She was with her husband, helping to fight the fire and their two boys were with a friend, so we had the house to ourselves.  At this stage, I didn't realise just how close the fire was to our house.  When our friend, Mel, returned, she told me to brace myself for the worst, but that they were doing everything possible to save the house.

I'm terrified of fire.  I don't know where this strong fear comes from, but I hate lighting fires.  I let the house go cold in winter if Duncan's not home, rather than put more logs on the fire.

A range of emotions engulfed me - panic, fear, uncertainty....anger.  How could the neighbours burn off on such a windy day?  Why didn't they keep an eye on things?  Yes, rain was forecast (but it hadn't come), but didn't they check the wind forecast?  I'd always thought that if there was a fire, that I'd be happy to escape with our lives, that 'stuff' didn't matter.  And it wasn't the actual stuff I was fretting about; it was the ardurous task of starting over.  Where would we live?  The farm had insurance, but how long would we have to wait?  I had no idea about any of that.  I didn't want to have to deal with people offloading piles of their old junk onto us, thinking they were being generous, but really just cleaning out their cupboards.  No, I don't want 50 smelly blankets and old high heels, thank you very much.

I worried about my animals.  I began to brace myself for the fact that they could already be dead.

But I was also freaking out because the very night before, I'd dreamed that our house was burning down.  Now it was coming true!  What was I supposed to make of that?

Mel returned to the fire, rescued our dogs and took them to a neighbour's place.  The neighbours across the road were told to evacuate.

The boys and I stayed at Mel's house and gradually we were joined by all of the farm wives and their kids.  On one hand, I was grateful for the company.  On the other hand, I just wanted to be alone.  I was numb.  I didn't want to listen to laughing and joking people, chatting cheerily around me.

Finally, I heard the news that the fire had been contained and it was safe to go home. 

Miraculously the house wasn't even smoke damaged, it just smelt horrid, like we were smokers and had smoked inside for years with the windows shut.

My animals were all safe and well.

Although I am so thankful to God for granting my anguished requests to save our house, I am ashamed to say that, once again, I was angry.  How could God let this happen?  I was challenged to think about whether He is a good God if our house had burned to the ground.

The answer: Yes, He is.

They backburned this paddock next to our house to contain the fire.

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