posted on Jul, 29 2012 @ 10:01 PM
It was a dark and stormy night...
The night was.. moist...
No, not really. It was early morning, just after 7am. I was getting off work after a long 12 hour shift. Graveyard shifts are hard. Working 12 hours
overnight can wreak havock on your mind, body, and spirit, too. Your thinking is foggy, and all you care about is getting home and going to bed. But,
working three on and four off is really nice. Four day weekends every week makes it really worth it.
I trudged to my car that mid-June morning, piled in, and turned the key. One week before Father's Day, and I wondered what the kids would get for my
husband. I pondered getting him a card as I started the car.The stereo was still on from my arrival some 12 or so hours previously. I was listening
with half an ear when I heard the newscaster come on.
"An early morning fire on Wilkin's Mill Road has left one person severely injured and one person fighting for their life..."
I froze with my hand still on the keys, staring blankly at the stereo, as questions, exclamations, fears, memories... everything - flooded through me
at a million miles an hour. Almost as if I expected the radio to answer me, to fill in the blanks.
I was wearing a red and white striped, long sleeved shirt and red courderoy pants. Clunky brown shoes. Oh, how I hated those special shoes!
Mommy zipped the purple jacket up to my chin, snugging the hood with the fluffy white cotton fur tight as she would, then turned me towards the
swingset in the back yard, gently nudging me in that direction. It was chilly, but Easter was coming soon, and soon, so would the warm spring days.
I ran with a cumbersome yet excited trot of a 3, soon to be 4 year old to it, my eyes set on the slide. How I loved to go down the slide! It was my
favorite! I climbed the ladder, seeing my breath in front of me as I ascended the steps eagerly approaching the top.
I leapt with both feet forward, lurching down the slide with a squeal of happiness. The cool wind against my face, I slid down the slide, landing on
my bottom down below. Pain seared through me, and my sight dimmed from the indescribable pain as all memories from then on slipped away into forgiving
Wilkin's Mill Road. The road, I was there. It was my early childhood. I was only two. I closed my eyes as the pain of what this family was dealing
with, what they had just gone through, rushed through me like a rush of alcohol sears through your veins when you take a straight shot.
I remembered laying on the floor in front of the large console television, the black and white pictures of the space ship rocketting off into space. I
colored in my coloring book, but I paid attention because all the grown-ups spoke so excitedly about what was going on. I didn't understand then, not
till much later. They all ran to the door, there on Wilkin's Mill Road, and peered out the door in hopes of catching a glimpse of that spaceship as
it roared through the atmosphere and into our history books.
I laid my head on the steering wheel a moment as I was filled with the need to reach out to this family, to let them know they weren't alone, that
somehow, I understood. Words escaped me as the stereo played on, seemingly in the far distance now.
My oldest sister, who was 16 at the time, is my idol. She is my hero in every sense of the word, someone I look up to, always wanted to be like, and
emulated. Even at the tender age of two, I would mimick her. I would help her do laundry and iron in the little room downstairs across from the
utility room where the washer and dryer were.
I remember looking through the windowed door outside and seeing the wind blowing in the tall pines as she would gather the dry clothes in the basket
for ironing.I had a little pink highchair for my doll, and we would watch Dialing For Dollars while she ironed and I "helped".
Out of 6 children, I was the youngest. Father's Day was only a week away, and one of my brothers was making a set of praying hands for daddy out of
wood. He was so proud. It was almost finished! He needed to do some more sanding, so he was sent outside on the second story balcony overlooking the
steep back yard. There he worked away and sanded.
I was dressed in a blue dress with little white flowers mommy had made for me. She sewed a lot of my clothes. There were dump truck loads of rich red
dirt around the yard, because the hill was so steep. They were going to level the yard out some to make it safer to play for the children.
"Watch your sister," my brother was told, "I am going to go help your mother bring in the groceries."
With that, Dad sprayed some water onto the wire trash bin, much like the ones you see in the park. We burned our trash back then. He soaked the fire
until it was out, then went through the gate to the driveway and began helping bring in the groceries.
I was sitting at a pile of the dirt across the yard from where the fire was, with a red bucket and shovel. I was happilly digging and making hills of
The breeze was blowing, and the fire that was thought to be out, was not. The breeze stirred the fire back to life, lifting live sparks and embers
into the air, and carrying them across the yard. One ember landed on my thigh. The polyester material that was improperly marked as "Flame
Resistant" and "Child Safe" exploded into flame before literally melting into my flesh.
I raised my left arm to shield my face from the flames, and the leaping flames melted the fingers of my left hand together, even melting my
fingernails. The hair on the left side of my head was gone.
People mulled about in the kitchen just off the balcony when my brother began screaming for help.
"Dad! Dad! She's on fire!"
Dad opened the glass doors only to hear my screams and wails of agony, looking below to see me engulfed in flames, my blue dress with the white
flowers had already mostly melted into my flesh.
Without even thinking once of his own safety, Dad leapt over the railing, going over two stories below to save his daughters' life. My life.He rolled
me in the red dirt, tossing it on me to douse the remaining flames, without regards to the pain of the flames as they licked up both his arms nearly
to his shoulders, giving him second and third degree burns.
My oldest sister having seen what was taking place, ran and got a fresh clean blanket, and threw it into the tub, drenching it in cold water. My dad
carried me around to the front of the house as my mother frantically ran to him, car keys in hand.My sister met him with the blanket, and they wapped
me gently in it. This one action, above all else, had
saved my life. It prevented me from going into shock.
Dad drove while mommy held me. He drove with his wrists on the steering wheel, because his hands were badly burned. He drove fast, with no regard to
speed limits though safely, to the county hospital. To his shock and horror, they turned him away.
"We have no burn unit here," they told him, "we have no way to care for a child with such severe burns." Ironically, that hospital now has the
largest, best burn unit in the entire southeastern U.S.
With that, he got back into the car, refusing to wait for them to get an ambulance.
"I don't have time to wait!", he exclaimed, "I am trying to save my daughters life!"