When the Bobcat Fire was burning out of control, we were put on Evacuation Alert. Everything hinged on the weather, if the Santa Ana winds blew in, we would have to blow out of here. I packed my car with my valuables and waited.
Is this one more thing to tack onto that list of 2020 horrors? No, this was not my first rodeo.
In 2008, a different fire with a different name threatened this same mountain. On that night, it was my mother’s house that was in jeopardy.
I gathered up my kids as the fire trucks raced around. By the time we got to her street, the police had already blocked it off to non-residents.
I pleaded, “No officer, I don’t live here now, but I use to. I’ve come for my mother who does live here now.”
“Unless you live here now you can’t go up.”
My conversation with the officer was proving futile until my kids started crying, “Don’t let our Granny burn up.”
That was enough for this law enforcer to bend the rules.
“Mom, there is a FIRE!” I screamed, barging into her house, catching her and her caregiver off guard. “We’ve got to get you out of here.”
It quickly became obvious that it would not be an easy task to move this 85-year-old woman with dementia and her lovely caregiver, who at that exact moment reminded me of Aunt Pittypat from Gone with the Wind when Atlanta was burning.
I was walking a fine tightrope that stretched between conveying a calm sense of urgency and ensuing panic – one on which I was not balancing well.
“Can you get my mother ready?” I asked her caregiver.
“Okay,” she jumped up and grabbed clothes from the closet.
At the same time, I found boxes to fill with personal items. I gave each of my children a container of some sort. “Start filling ‘em” I ordered.
“Everything?” Lindsay asked.
“No, just important stuff.”
Seeing boxes filled with candy, their artwork, a shake maker and a scented candle, I learned the vast difference between my definition of important and a child’s.
I grabbed her jewelry, photos, documents and my father’s urn. What else to take?
With the enthusiasm of a timed scavenger hunt, we all began running and grabbing – it was chaos. I was panting while my mother and her caregiver moved in “sloth motion.”
Soon, my mother appeared on the couch with her legs sticking straight out an unable to move her limbs. In preparation to evacuate, her caregiver had taken great care, and dressed her in what seemed like her entire wardrobe, including a final outer trench coat. My mother looked like a child getting ready to go out into the snow. She, too, was huffing from being over heated.
And then it came. BANG! BANG! BANG!
The officer stood in the doorway, “You must evacuate immediately!” he ordered.
Exhausted, I looked at him, “You gotta be kidding me? We’ll try, but look around. If this is our time to go to heaven, it’s our time.”
I’m happy to report that 2008 wasn’t our time. Nor was 2020. Thankfully, we didn’t have to evacuate. But until this fire was out, I kept my boxes packed with my photos, documents, my father and now my mother in their respective vessels, in my car.
Let’s review – a pandemic, unrest, uncertainty and now fires? What’s next on the list? Locusts? Frogs? These fears plagued me as I tried to sleep that night.
I shut my eyes, when the ground beneath me shook. Oh, right, I had forgotten one – earthquake. This earthquake kept building, always posing the question… is this the big one?
I sat up in bed, then decided, “Oh hell, everything is safe in the car.” I laid back down and enjoyed the ride.
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