To the Tune of a Fire Alarm by Judy Middleton
Frustrations and humorous mishaps seem to happen to me. Can anyone out there relate? Take the house we bought with five sliding glass doors. Oh, and multiple windows. We scrambled to extricate broken appliances, and loads of rubbish from this hidden jewel of a fixer upper. We scoured, we cleaned, repaired and repainted all the walls and unpacked a multitude of boxes. All five children helped. Well, not the two-year-old, but you get the idea. How were we to know that our newly adopted state was about to make history that year in 2004 when four major hurricanes hit Florida in six weeks? The names Charlie, Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne were all retired by the National Meteorological Center, never to be used again. Here’s just one of many crazy trials and unforgettable mishaps.
After a myriad of exhausting steps, the momentous owner new-roof permit was finally obtained, the shingles actually delivered, and work began in earnest. Thank goodness no rain was in the forecast because today the heavily damaged roof would come off. We didn’t need any more adventures. The promised shingles that disappeared and reappeared with alarming regularity had us guessing as the delivery date drew near and the roofing supply store often gave in to the demands of their regular contractors.
We had come a long way since that day when we drove up to our house and saw catastrophic damage. Our pony was safely boarded in a neighbor’s strong barn, our zany, neurotic rescue dog had a temporary home in the country with friends, and we finally managed to find temporary housing for ourselves. Even the bunnies and elderly stray cats had a safe space to call home.
After saying hi to the guys on the roof (the real heroes), we tied up our dog, Treasure, and began preparations for a feast to celebrate our roofer friends and this gigantic step forward. I started rice, beans, and fajita steak with onions and peppers and my oldest daughter started making tortillas. The guys had half the roof stripped bare of shingles and were just starting to roll out the tar paper when out of nowhere we had a sudden and unexpected cloudburst. Rain streamed in to the master bedroom and hallway and no number of buckets or garbage cans made a bit of difference. I opened the sliding glass door and started sweeping the rain out, thankful that we had no carpet. Tears welled up in my eyes. At least no one will notice, I consoled myself as rain streaked down my glasses and dripped from my hair.
Suddenly the fire alarm went off with a piercing BEEP, BEEP, BEEP… pause…BEEP, BEEP, BEEP. There was an air of unreality to the whole situation.
At one point I called out, “Do we need to get out?”
“Why?” someone shouted back.
“The fire alarm. Is there a fire?”
“No, it’s just full of water.”
I went back to sweeping, every bit of me drenched. Suddenly a thought struck me as hilariously funny. How many times in my life would I find myself standing in my ceiling-less bedroom, rain pouring down on me, sweeping out water to the tune of a fire alarm?
Justin walked up looking anxious. “Look how wet I got on your roof.”
“And look how wet I got in my house,” I chuckled. “I had a bigger broom…”
“It’s on the roof!” cried Justin, rushing out.
“Justin, don’t go up there!”
A few minutes later I heard pounding on the roof.
After half an hour the rain stopped. The sun came out and dried out the roof. The guys finished laying out the tar paper. We were even able to get the electricity back on and finish cooking dinner. Over a big Mexican food feast that night, I remarked to Justin just how appropriate his t-shirt was: You don’t gotta love it, you just gotta do it.”
Of all the moments in the day we were at our most vulnerable point when it rained. Through it all, it comforted me to remember that God is in control and is more concerned with our hearts than actual outcomes.
Would things finally calm down for a little while now? That’s a story for another day…