About an hour before we were to sit down for our Christmas dinner, a phone call came for Rebecca. I could hear part of the rather lengthy conversation from where I stood, then when she hung up the phone she remained still, yet facing the dining room window.
I went to her and saw muscles working in her face. “What’s wrong, Rebecca?”
“My house caught fire, Mom.”
When she came up to our place, inadvertently Rebecca had left a deep large candle lit. It had been smoldering for two days, finally burned through the candle holder, melted the blinds, dripped to the floor and then exploded into flames.
A background story is important. Some months before, a family moved into a house across from Rebecca’s—a family quite different from others on the block. The man was often out in the yard and had a very loud voice. A parade of unsavory appearing men frequently came by and hung out in the yard with him. Motorcycles were in the mix, and around the neighborhood, there was talk of gangs and drugs and trouble.
Rebecca and I talked of the situation and I advised her: “You need to forge a friendship with that family. ” She agreed, and the day before she came up for Christmas, she baked cookies and took a plate of them to the man, whom I will call Carlos.
On Christmas day, a lady was visiting in the home of Carlos, was looking across the street to Rebecca’s house when she said, “There’s a fire over there.
“No, there can’t be. Rebecca is not even home,” Carlos replied.
Then he looked more closely, and quite visible now through the dining room window were flames. Carlos dashed across the street, smashed in the window, began beating around and grappling for a hose, midst the thick smoke that enveloped the house.
Someone called 911 and soon the fire department was there and took over, breaking out the glass in the front door to secure a better entrance. It was a fireman who called Rebecca about her house.
“That man, your neighbor,Carlos, saved your house, Ma’am. The fire was just moments away from reaching your attic, and there would have been nothing we could have done. You are extremely fortunate.”
What a lesson is here, that of looking past the outward appearance of a person, delving instead into his heart where often is kindness, generosity and heroism. Certainly such is the case with Carlos, and our entire family is grateful for his brave action that saved Rebecca’s house from completely burning to the ground.
Rebecca stayed with us for several days while the smoke was cleared from her house. In the scheme of things she had relatively little damage—most of the losses are from smoke. The short list of her replacements are: In the dining room, living room, family room, kitchen and breakfast room, she must have new floor coverings. The front door, dining room window, and window coverings in all those rooms will be replaced, then everything will be repainted.
Never will any of us forget Carlos. Hidden beneath a hard, loud demeanor beats a golden, heroic heart, a caring heart that saved Rebecca’s house from certain destruction. Heroes come in many shapes and colors.
Edit: 9:55 AM If it’s not fire, it’s water. Rebecca just called to tell me that last night she heard the sound of running water, checked the house and found nothing. Opened the back door and her yard is a lake. A pipe going under the garage had frozen, and burst. A plumber is due this morning. Enough already! 🙂