Memory Monday-It’s a thing…
I’m not talking about the William Faulkner story Barn Burning today. You should read Faulkner’s story, but since you’re here right now anyway, read my story first.
Living on a small farm, we had a barn across the branch from the house. The barn housed some of our animal, stored farming equipment, and protected our hay. According to the adults in the house, the barn was the pinnacle of danger. To us kids, it was the coolest hang out spot ever. The barn was off limits to me as the youngest and only girl. The older boys wouldn’t let me tag along when they would go up into the hayloft. I’m sure it was because they would go up there to look at nudie magazines, smoke cigarettes, and cuss.
My grandfather passed away in June 1984. Later that same summer, I woke one night to the sounds screaming and yelling outside. An odd glow lit up my room, and I pulled back my curtain to look out my bedroom window to see what was going on outside. Across the dirt road and branch, our barn was burning. Bright, orange flames stretched toward the stars. The wood crackled, and the smell was a mix of burning wood and hay. I could see outlines of people running in and out of the light cast by the fire. It took me several minutes to realize aunts, uncle, and older cousins were running into the barn to save whatever they could carry out. I don’t remember us losing any animals that night. Granny sold most of the larger animals after Grandpa’s death.
I remember everyone at the barn coming back to the house covered in soot, exhausted, thirsty, and devastated. There was no hope of the fire department making it us in time to save any part of the barn. While I’m sure a fire truck must have arrived at some point, I don’t remember one ever arriving.
Watching the burn and my family risk their lives is one of the top five most horrifying moments of my life. We didn’t have much, but they were fighting to save what we had. What was most horrifying was the knowledge that we lived so far away from help. We had to be our own firefighters, our own medical services, and even our own search and recovery team.