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 Category:  General Non-Fiction
  Posted: February 21, 2020      Views: 33
Chapters:
Prologue 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 

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 ABOUT
BARB HENSONGISPSACA 

Barb works at the local food bank volunteering her time at the country market. Barb has lived just about every profession there is to do. She has had a wild ride in her lifetime and uses poetry to tell everything. She is a cancer survivor. She hates - more...

She is an accomplished novelist and is currently at the #35 spot on the rankings.

She is an accomplished poet and is currently at the #8 spot on this years rankings.

She is also an active reviewer and is holding the #44 spot on the top ranked reviewer list.

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Chapter 7 of the book Prose 2020
contest entry
"Did I Hear Her?" by Barb Hensongispsaca



On August 14, 2003, a lot of people that lived on the Eastern coast of the United States and Canada probably thought the end of the world had finally happened. Rumors spread about terrorist activity. Truth of the matter, tree limbs on power lines shut down an area which led to a chain of events that produced mass electric outages, some of which lasted days until the problem could be corrected.

At the time, I lived in Canada, having moved there from Ohio after part of my family was killed in a car/train accident. I lived eighteen hours from my family and only got to see them twice a year. My mother suffered from uncontrollable sepsis after a fall that fractured her pelvis. Her health was on a downhill spiral and my husband and I were traveling to Ohio to see her.

When my mother fell, she was allowed to go home on hospice, only if someone was there with her. My oldest daughter moved in so my mother could die at home. I told my mother that I would be there with her, and that was a promise I was trying to keep. We started out at noon and were into five hours of our eighteen hour drive when we noticed empty store lots that should have been full at that time of day. Traffic was declining during what should have been rush hour. We pulled over to get gas and were told that there was no power to pump the gas due to a major power outage. We had to find a station that had a back up generator to be able to gas the car for the rest of the trip.

Luckily in Canada, people are used to small outages every so often, so they are prepared to use a back up when needed. About a half hour later, we found a little, out-of-the-way station and got a full tank of gas and continued on our way. As night approached, it was strange to see total darkness. Except for the power generated houses and passing car headlights, there was absolutely no light.

Around 10:30 pm, I began to have an uneasy feeling that something was not as it should be. My cell phone was not working, so I begged my husband to find a pay phone somewhere so that I could call my daughter. We were about half way to our destination and the prospects of finding a pay phone in the dark were overwhelming, but a higher power had control of our lives that night. The first exit we tried, there was a pay phone on the side of a gas station that was closed. Our headlights illuminated it as we turned into the lot.

My husband parked the car with the headlights shining directly on the phone. I made the call and my daughter answered on the third ring.

"How is Grandma?" I asked as soon as she answered.

"She is fine, I just checked on her about ten minutes ago," she told me.

"Please, go check on her for me," I begged.

She laughed at me and warned me about being so paranoid, then she wanted to tell me about the huge blackout that, luckily, had not hit mid-Ohio.

The feeling of unease came back and I told her she had to go check on her grandmother. She talked to me as she went into my mom's bedroom.

"Grandma, are you okay?" I heard her say quietly.

She must have been bending down to talk softly into her ear because I heard a soft intake of air that was followed by a whisper of my mother breathing out. It was not to be repeated.

"Mom, I think Grandma is gone," my daughter said. "I have to call hospice right now." Then she hung up.

I realized I was holding the phone listening to ... nothing. My husband could tell by my expression that something was wrong and he instantly came to my side. The tears came. I'm not sure if it was because I realized she was gone, if I knew I did not make it, or if I knew she was not in pain anymore. All I knew was that, somehow, I was there if even by phone, to hear her take her last breath.

In the years following, I was consoled by the thought that Mom made sure she said goodbye in that last soft breath, which to me, held everything she wanted to say.

True Story Contest contest entry

The book continues with He Took His Job Seriously. We will provide a link to it when you review this below.

Author Notes
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A major outage knocked out power across the eastern United States and parts of Canada on August 14, 2003. Beginning at 4:10 p.m. ET, 21 power plants shut down in just three minutes. Fifty million people were affected, including residents of New York, Cleveland and Detroit, as well as Toronto and Ottawa, Canada. Although power companies were able to resume some service in as little as two hours, power remained off in other places for more than a day. The outage stopped trains and elevators, and disrupted everything from cellular telephone service to operations at hospitals to traffic at airports. In New York City, it took more than two hours for passengers to be evacuated from stalled subway trains. Small business owners were affected when they lost expensive refrigerated stock. The loss of use of electric water pumps interrupted water service in many areas. There were even some reports of people being stranded mid-ride on amusement park roller coasters. An investigation by a joint U.S.-Canada task force traced the problem back to an Ohio company, FirstEnergy Corporation. When the company's EastLake plant shut down unexpectedly after overgrown trees came into contact with a power line, it triggered a series of problems that led to a chain reaction of outages.
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