DID YOU GET MY BABY?

DID YOU GET MY BABY?

In December of 1989, we moved from Ocala, Florida to Mount Juliet, Tennessee, a town located between two lakes, and near Nashville. I relocated my company, Diversified Optical Sales, to Franklin, TN, so that I could learn more about the craft of songwriting from the treasure trove of great writers in the Nashville area. I chose Mount Juliet because it was a great place for families with young children, and a short commute to downtown Nashville. A few months after moving into our home, I was at the grocery store in Hermitage, and as I drove out of the parking lot, made a last minute decision to return home on a route that took me by Old Hickory Lake. Driving by the lake, I came upon a house that was on fire, with heavy black smoke billowing out of a window. I hit my brakes, jumped out of my car, ran toward the house, as the front door flew open, and a lady with embers and smoke in her hair, tried to get her two small boys out of the inferno. She was disoriented and screaming as I pulled them off the porch and to the house next door. Suddenly, she grabbed my face, and screamed “did you get my baby?”. I looked back at the burning house, and yelled where is she? The woman frantically pointed to the window with smoke billowing out of it. I ran back to the house, tried to open the door but it was stuck, so I rammed it with my shoulder, and the door flung open, hitting me with a blast of smoke that nearly knocked me off the porch. I took my sweater off, then held it over my mouth, as I crawled into the smoke filled room. I moved along the edge of a sofa, trying to find my way to the baby’s room, but it was impossible to breathe, and the thick smoke blurred my vision. I had to retreat to clear my eyes and lungs but only for a moment, then tried again, but couldn’t get to the bedroom door, the heat and smoke was brutal. I had crawled outside as the fire department arrived, then ran over to check on the woman and her two boys. Once again, she grabbed me, screaming “did you get my baby?” Neighbors took the lady inside their home to help her, and for once in my life, I felt like I had failed miserably. Firefighters couldn’t save the baby girl, and days later, came to my house to try and console me. They told me the baby had probably succumbed to the heavy smoke before I got there, and assured me that I did all I possibly could. The two little boys had gone into the baby’s room and were playing with matches when a spark caught the curtains on fire. They panicked, ran out of the room, shutting the door behind them, which allowed the fire to rage. The nightmares started, and I relived the mother’s face in my face asking me “did you get my baby?” A week later, I forced myself to drive by the house, and just outside of the window, on the ground, was the charred crib. I knew I had to face what had happened, but I didn’t expect the sight of the crib. Through the years, I often wondered if it had been my kids in that room, would I have found a way to save them? The nightmares continued, irregularly for many years, until one day, while visiting friends in Nashville, my wife Kim and I drove to the house in Mount Juliet. It showed no signs of the fire, and been repaired, looking as if all the tragedy had been erased. I proceeded to relive every moment, showing Kim my actions for that day, and after leaving there, my mind accepted some closure. Now, I rarely dream of that day, but every year, on my birthday, I keep up with how old the baby would be, if she had lived. At this posting she would be 31 years old, and I am celebrating my 69th birthday. I’m not sure why my life has been full of so many unusual adventures, but I am thankful that I can wake up every day, knowing that I am not afraid to face whatever challenge may confront me, as I walk the pathway of this journey.

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