I think I have told this story before but you are going to keep hearing it from me until the day I die. It was a cold January day and the kids were flooding the rink outside when I noticed our German shepherd, Snoopy racing in from the greenhouse with a huge plume of black smoke trailing him. If there is an emergency I am not the one to send to an EMT unit as I panic easily. I screamed for someone to call 911 and we simply thought a hose spraying a steady stream of water into the basement window was enough to contain the fire.
Within five minutes the basement was engulfed with flames and I attempted to go into the greenhouse to save the birds and my ferret. Smoke quickly turns into a blackness that cannot be measured on a colour chart and within seconds I was trapped. A fireman came in to search for me and ended up saving my life as I could no longer find my way out.
My sons and I were sent over to a neighbour’s home, The Nephins, and we sat there, shivering and watching the firemen try to save our house. I wanted to cry but I couldn’t and the kids kept asking me if everything was going to be alright. In my irrational mind I thought things would return to normal once the fire trucks were gone and life would go back to the way it was.
The fight for our home was not over for another 18 hours. The firemen left at about 5 pm overwhelmed with the intensity of the smoke and one ended up in the hospital. They had done their best and thought the fire had been put to rest but Angelo and his father sat guard all night watching for hot spots. Sure enough at 1 am a wall in the living room went up in flames and had they not been there the house would have been a total loss. Two local firemen ended up in the hospital that day trying to save my home.
So, what does does it mean to be a “good neighbor”?
In an article titled “Being Neighborly Without Being Nosy,” Rose Alexander explained it this way: “Depending on your personal preferences, being neighborly might mean staying invisible except for a quick wave while getting the mail. Or you might think of someone being a good neighbor when he or she is available to help out with any unexpected need, whether it is to lend an egg or give your child a ride to soccer practice when your car won’t start.”
I am lucky to have great neighbours– and I also miss the ones who have moved or passed away. Muriel Simpson, who was Howard McNeely’s sister ruled our neighbourhood with the hand of Margaret Thatcher. No one dared cross the line with her, not even Gerald Hastie. So why I am writing this?
When my sign was vandalized yesterday, I didn’t have the brains or force to put it back in the ground. So along came Eric Lockheart today and he put it back in. He will forever be my hero. He is part of the brotherhood of kindness that exists in Carleton Place. Thank you!
SUNDAY UPDATE– It was ripped out again and thrown on Caldwell Street. Thanks to Sandra Hurdis Finigan for rescuing it.