I would like to share with you all the reason I have been away the last couple weeks. There has been a tragic accident in my family and it has been a very painful time for me.
My Grandmother has dementia. My grandfather, an 83 year old amputee, did his best to conceal how bad her illness was. Claude (my grandfather) goes to bed around 9 o'clock every night. Kay (my grandmother) usually stays up until 11 or 12. Before she gets ready for bed she puts a new log in their wood stove.
Earlier in the week, they had been having problems with there 57 year old wood stove. The glass in the door had broken, which nearly started a fire but had happened during the day so it was caught in time. My father later replaced the glass with metal. The latch on the door was also causing problems, sometimes coming loose allowing the door to swing open on its own.
That night, before Kay went to bed, she stoked the stove and went to her room. She forgot to make sure the latch was secure and the door.....
As Kay regressed into her dementia her obsession with cats became more and more prominent, spending $800 to $1000 a month on cat food. She collected 27 cats which were kept in the house at all times, and at least 30 stray cats outside. She spent most of her day outside feeding the cats. As you can tell her illness was becoming a problem. But Claude was adamant on taking care of her as long as possible. Even though he had Hodgkin's lymphoma, one leg, and was on a six month bought of chemo, he dressed her, cleaned the house, and made all the meals.
Kay was in her room when the fire started. The wood stove door swung open and the fire grew until the pipe above leading to the chimney melted. Like a tiger torch the pipe shot large hot flames on to the ceiling quickly spreading about the kitchen. Kay heard this noise and suspecting her cats where up to no good shuffled into the front room where she was attacked by smoke and heat. Being 4 feet from the side door of the house she quickly escaped only to come to the sudden realization that her home of 58 years was quickly becoming engulfed in flames. Even though she wanted to keep the door open for her 27 cats to escape she knew that by keeping the door open it would only feed the already growing fire. Unable to return into the house she ran to Claude's bedroom window and began banging and screaming for him to escape. The house being as old as it was the window had be nailed shut and a heavy plastic placed on the outside for insulation, Kay was unable to open the window...
My Parents Lee and Judy live next door to my Grandparents. They all live on a 5 acre lot just outside of Cranbrook's city limits (Jim Smith Lake). Their homes are approximately 50-60 feet from each other. Judy had just lied down when she heard a loud crackling noise. Thinking that it might be her wood stove she went to check, and found Kay and Claude's house engulfed in flames that reached higher then the large pine trees that scatter the property. Waking Lee, whom got dressed immediately and rushed out the door, she called 911.
Lee found Kay walking aimlessly about the yard, about 5 cars had stopped and emergency crew where on their way. Claude was still inside...
Lee desperately ripped the plastic off the window, and broke the single pain glass window. A huge cloud of heat and black smoke billowed from the window. Claude's Bed was beside the window and he was lying with his head at the window, he had heard Kay's cries...
Unfortunately my father was too late. Clause had already passed. It only took three breaths for him to sacrum to smoke inhalation.
Emergency crews arrived quickly and the flames were put out within minuets.
So that is the story. I'm sorry it may have been too dramatic for you, but that is why I have been off work for so long. Claude was a very kind and caring man, and angel that came to walk with us for a while.
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