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 Category:  Biographical Non-Fiction
  Posted: January 13, 2021      Views: 385
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BethShelby is retired from the printing and commercial art field. She is married and has four children and three grandchildren. She and her husband presently live in Tennessee.

Painting, photography, and writing are her passion. She has ha - more...

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Chapter 93 of the book Remembering Yesterday
A time when everything goes wrong.
"Could Things Get Worse?" by BethShelby

This is a time when everything seems to be going wrong for my family. It is the beginning of Evan's retirement. I was having health problems, and then we have another family disaster.

For new readers, who may not have read my author notes, this is written in a conversational way as I talk to my deceased husband. When I refer to someone just as "you" this means I am addressing my husband, Evan.

As the year 1985 drew to a close, so many things were happening that were disturbing. I had incurred the fury of the new department head at the company where I worked. Earlier, an unexpected opportunity had arisen which involved a chance to go to California. I'd always wanted to go there, and it was something I didn't want to pass up. Don had bought a car, and asked you and me to drive out with him to visit a friend. We would fly back from Sacramento. It would involve two nights on the road and a third day to fly back home. I had some vacation time coming, so I went to the supervisor's office to ask permission to use three days of my time.

The printing company was under new management, which was in the process of hiring and firing employees on a daily basis. The department head, who had hired me, had been terminated. The new supervisor was a man everyone feared. The day I requested the time off, he happened to be away, and the acting supervisor told me to go. He didn't see any problem with me being away for three days. When I returned from the trip, the new supervisor was angry that he had not been consulted and decided to punish me by having me work in a file room, where I would be alone handling heavy materials that I could barely lift.

I was in the early stages of menopause and suffering from heavy, almost constant, bleeding which was becoming more severe by the day. This heavy work exacerbated my physical condition to the point that I felt I would need to give up the job in order to survive. I was embarrassed to admit that I wasn't physically able to do the work.

Christmas came, and I did my best to hold things together until after the holidays. We went to Mississippi as we always did. At your mother's house that year, there were twenty-four of us attending. We all gathered outside to have a picture made. The younger kids were setting off fireworks, and one of the chaser rockets zigzagged, and headed straight for our photography line-up. Since I seemed to be the one the universe chose to frown on that day, the small rocket managed to collide with my leg, burning a hole in my hose and stinging like a wasp as it fizzled out. This was only the beginning of my problems.

The next day, we were back in Metairie and I was attempting to do a load of laundry. The washing machine overflowed and flooded the den. I tried to help you pull up and drag the soaked carpeting to the patio to dry. By this time I was pouring blood, and we had to drop everything and rush to the emergency room.

My doctor said my blood count was so low that he wasn't sure he could get it back up. They put me to bed and ordered five pints of blood and scheduled a D&C for the following morning. Carol and Glen were due in that night from Georgia, and I was upset that I wouldn't be home when they came. That was the least of my worries.

You were retired, so you planned to spend the rest of the day with me to keep me company. You went out for lunch and hadn't been back in the room but a few minutes, when the phone rang. Don, Christi and Connie were all home, so I assumed it was one of them. Your face turned white, and you were only grunting into the phone. Then you said "Okay" and hung up.

"Who was that?" I demanded.

"It was Don. I'm going to run home for a little bit."

"What do you mean, you're going home? You just got here. What's happened?"

"They've had a little problem. I need to go see if I can help them."

"No! Something bad's happened. You look like you've seen a ghost. You're not leaving until you tell me what's going on."

"Beth, I've got to go. They need me. Don told me not to tell you. There's been a little fire. I need to go see how bad it is. I'll see you later." With that, you gave me a quick kiss and left the room.

The next person in the room was a nurse, who came to take my blood pressure. When she read it, she thought I was on the verge of having a stroke. It had risen to the danger zone.

Meanwhile, back in the jungle.... Seriously, here is what I was told happened after I left to go to the hospital.

Connie's friend, Lesley, came over to play. They went into Connie's room and closed the door. They decided to put a couple of chairs together and make a tent. First, they draped a sheet over the chairs, and then to make it darker, they strung some heavy bath towels over the whole thing. Needing more light, they put a lamp under the covers. Apparently, they removed the lamp shade, because the bare bulb was against the towels. At some point, the towels began smoldering. Connie decided it was time to abandon the tent, so she threw the smoldering towels into her closet and the two of them left, closing the door behind them.

It was the end of December and it was cold outside, but Christi decided it was getting so hot inside the house, that she needed to take a shower to cool off. Don smelled smoke and opened the door to Connie's room. He didn't see any fire, but he did see some whiffs of smoke, so he decided the girls had been burning incense, and he needed to get the odor out of the room. He opened Connie's windows and closed the door behind him.

A little later, Christi opened the door, and the whole room was filled with smoke and fire. The smoke quickly drifted out and filled the whole house and panic set in. "What's the number to 911?" she screamed. "Quick, what's the number to 911?"

I'm not sure what happened at that point, but the kids got out. They said they had to crawl on their knees because the smoke was so heavy higher up in the room. The fire department arrived and managed to save the cat, which was making pitiful mournful noises from beneath the sofa. Our children escaped, wearing nothing but their older clothes and the crocheted house shoes that your mom had made them for Christmas.

Except for the brick outside walls, Connie's room and everything in it was totaled. The ceiling was gone and everything stored in the attic also burned. The rest of the walls inside the house were blackened from smoke. Everything was soaked from the firemen's hoses, but they managed to put out the fire. You didn't tell me how bad it was that night, because you were trying to keep me calm. My friend, Diane, invited everyone to come there to spend the night.

Carol and Glen arrived around one in the morning, and banged on the smoke stained door of the dark house until they saw the note that read, There was a fire. We've gone to Diane's house.

The following morning, I had the surgery, and all those fresh pints of blood cells made a new woman out of me. I was worried about getting AIDS, because this was a time people were getting it from blood transfusions. The Insurance company went to work trying to find us a place to live. They were only able to find one motel room in the whole city because it was Super Bowl weekend and all the rooms were booked. With Carol and Glen there were seven of us, plus a cat, who were forced to share one room.

Poor Connie was traumatized with guilt over what her carelessness had caused, and Don felt terrible for opening the window to give the fire more oxygen. I was just glad everyone was alive, and that physically, I was feeling better than I had felt in months. What a way for you to start your retirement years!



The book continues with The Aftermath of the Fire. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
I'm continuing to recall memories of life with my deceased husband, Evan, as if I am talking aloud to him. I'm doing this because I want my children to know us as we knew each other and not just as their parents.Th
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