I'm sitting in my office working on tax stuff and the sirens are getting closer. The last time we heard them that close was when the neighbour on our west side got fire-bombed for the second time in a year. He moved out after the insurance fixed up his house last summer. Now the house on the other side is on fire! No fire bombs though. They're a pair of octogenarians living there - our pseudo mom 'n pop... friends and neighbours for more than 25 years. The ambulance just carted him away to a hospital with breathing problems and no wonder! The smoke has been billowing out of their front and back windows for awhile now. He and his wife both went to their other neighbours across the street (also in their 80's) for help. She is so considerate, she probably didn't want to bother me in my 'busy time'. I must try to remember not to tease her about not calling here first.
Another ambulance waits out of sight - presumeably in case one of the other seniors gets too upset. The elderly fella from that house across the street only got home from hospital a week ago after a nasty bout with pneumonia. He probably shouldn't be 'entertaining' for too long. And his wife is also not strong. Their adult daughter has been staying with them for a few weeks to help out, but she has a home and a (nursing) career to get back to.
The firemen hauled out a couple of her beautiful antique Queen Ann chairs - totally ablaze. She and her hubby would sit in those chairs by their living room window every morning and read their newspaper. Anytime I go by, I always wave because that is where they will usually be - whether or not I can see them through the window's reflection. Or in their back garden, when the snow is flying. It's not flying today but it's a foot thick on the ground. No snow on their roof now, thanks to the fire. The front door probably got hatchetted open and we noticed all the screens and windows are either on the ground outside or opened wide. Half the neighbourhood has congregated on the street in front of the burning home. The other half are watching the news on TV as the camera people and reporters just left with their 'breaking news'.
But it's our hearts that are breaking as we wonder if this is their time to live in a smaller "senior's apartment" or worse... a nursing home. They are still together at least, well, when he gets out of the hospital. Neither of them was burned and I don't believe they suffered from the smoke inhalation either, but they were both really upset at the damage and the 'excitement'. It's Sunday so Mrs. would be cooking something 'special' for dinner and probably expecting one of their local children or grandchildren for supper. I suspect that's where the fire started - in the kitchen. Both of them probably laid down for naps and something burned. That home is where they raised their family while he was a principal at the high school and she was a teacher. They both still have active minds most of the time, even with the hearing loss.
I suppose I should be worried about that special envelope they keep for me every February and March with all the receipts they need for their income tax return. And they have a LOT of slips to lose also. I hope I can figure out what numbers to scribble down for them without those pieces of paper but it's going to be a challenge. I fear they won't come 'home' again. I fear the insurance may or may not cover the damage and the house can be fixed up again, but not our super neighbours. That would mean we get new folks all around us now since we're on a corner lot. That would also make US the "Seniors". Yuck. I called the local daughter of the folks from the burning home and got no answer, so I presume she must be en route or already around here someplace, with the other onlookers.
Ironically, I spent an hour this morning going through all the pictures of Christchurch in New Zealand and Queensland, Australia and wishing those good people God speed in their arduous journey ahead. Little did I know that our own neighbours would have similar disaster strike them on the same day. You wouldn't know it by my blog, but this really is a 'nice' neighbourhood. The people tend to wave at one another and most of us know most of the others in the 'hood' by some context - their cars, kids, holiday decorations and gardens. We already miss the folks who got badly hurt in that firebombing last summer and now we could easily lose the other side's homeowners as well. The changing times. The burning home. Whatta day.