I was feeling good about myself as I climbed into bed shortly after 10 p.m. on Monday, June 1. I had just finished writing last week’s column and emailed it to the newspaper more than 24 hours earlier than I usually do.
I also spent nearly an hour that day riding the stationary bike at the Ashland YMCA, which had just reopened after being closed for weeks because of the COVID-19 pandemic. All in all, it had been a good day, but I was really tired and anxiously anticipating a good night’s sleep.
But all it took was one telephone call from my youngest son to deny me that sleep and launch one of the most hectic and stressful few days of my life.
My son’s message to my wife was short and to the point: “My house is on fire. I’m OK, but I think I’m going to lose it.”
While he called it “my house,” my wife and I considered it as “our other house” as it was the small, older home on Third Circle Prospect Avenue in Ashland that we purchased some 20 years ago to help my daughter and oldest granddaughter escape from what we feared was a negative, abusive situation.
In the early years, that little house, located just a few blocks from our then-home on Forest Avenue, provided a safe, stable residence that enabled our daughter to get her life back together and marry a second time.
After my daughter and granddaughter left the house, I rented it for a few years providing income for my wife and me.
Then my youngest son and his new wife moved into the house. When that marriage, which included the birth and tragic death of our only grandson, ended, he kept living there until June 1.
My first thought was that thanks to the quick, skilled and well-coordinated efforts of the professionals at Ashland Fire Department, the house had been saved. To be sure, one bedroom was completely gutted, the bathroom, laundry room and one closet were heavily damaged, but the living room, kitchen and other bedroom certainly could be restored with a little effort.
My son agreed with me. My wife was not so confident. The fire department listed the structure as heavily damaged and “uninhabitable.”
Most important of all, the insurance adjusters have recommended that the house be demolished. Because the house it is so small and old, it would cost more to repair than it would be worth when restored. The insurance company just wants to level the house and write us a check for they think the value is.
Just how this ends up is yet to be determined. Our first priority is to find a new place for my son to live in. He now is living with us, but our house is not large enough for the long term.
The best thing about all this is no one was injured. Whenever you can say that, I choose to trust God to get us through the rest.
Reach JOHN CANNON at firstname.lastname@example.org.