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Friday, December 29, 2017

Fire When Ready

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day I didn't lose my sister. If you're sitting around putting off taking the tree down, do me a favor and just for kicks check your smoke detector. Then I can check that one off my New Year's Resolutions list.

This isn’t so much a New Year’s Resolution as it is a Voiceover in the Great Commercial of Life. As a general rule, the Voice is recommending the Special Meal Deal or taking care of the heartrending choice between Original or Extra Crispy. This time, however, the Voice is saying in a big booming voice:  “Smoke Detectors Are Totally Worth It.”

Bill and I are standing in the kitchen of my sister’s house.  It smells like a cross between Overdone Liver Day at the corner diner and a game of “Who Let the Wet Dog In?”  The night before, during a driving rain, moisture made contact with wiring in the wall of her turn-of-the-century Saltbox mill house, and with a Snap, Crackle, and Pop, a hot spot appeared that Smokey the Bear would be leery of. 

But nobody was in the room to see it.

It was three o’clock in the morning the night before New Year’s Eve. Most people are happily dreaming of party plans on the horizon or the breakfast special at the pancake house at that time.

Suddenly, a sound like a million angry bees sawed through the murky air.  The smoke detectors. The smoke detectors she had installed the year before when Dad gave up the good life at the nursing home to come live with someone who could make coffee just like he liked it. Pop has gone on to the corner of Heaven where every cup of coffee is bottomless, but the smoke detectors still decorated the walls of the house.

She grabbed her cell phone and laptop – even fire can’t stop the will to Facebook – and she and her husband landed in an icy backyard, breathing frigid air, and called the local fire department who contained the fire to two rooms.

Back in the kitchen, I looked at Bill who was declaring a soggy bag of sugar a total loss. “Hey, where’s the best place to be in a fire?”

He tossed the sugar in the huge trash can we were using for dead-on-arrival perishable pantry products. “Where?”

I grinned. “Outside.”

And thanks to the smoke detectors that’s exactly where my sister and her husband were. A tiny spark may have started the trouble, but the Important Things in Life didn’t go up in flames.