15 July 2017

So with my dad passing away several years ago, mom’s been doing well, until we got a call early this morning that she was in the hospital. In short, she’s fine, but there’s another story which could have turned out much different.

After the ambulance was called and they and the firemen arrived, they walked into a dark house, which was a good thing because it was easy to see that a built-in wall heater in the kitchen was glowing bright red. They estimated that the house was minutes away from catching fire, and due to its construction and where mom was, both she and her dog would have been goners.

The wall heater is an odd story in itself. None of us kids can remember it every being used (>50 years), and when we arrived 8 hours later it was still somewhat hot. Being an electrical engineer I wondered if they’d really shut off power and asked my sister to switch it on. With a loud pop and sparks shooting out of it, we turned it off!

To be absolutely sure this could never happen again (maybe mom absent-mindedly turned it on) we decided to cut the wires to it. (Dad didn’t label the circuit breakers well enough to figure out which circuit powered it, and that circuit probably powered other stuff she still needed.) When I took off the front cover we found something very interesting sitting on one of the heating coils, something looking like maybe a Pringles potato chip lid. Many decades ago mom used to run an in-home daycare and we suspect one of the kids slipped that lid into the heater. Given that it was never used we can’t figure out how this happened now, the odds that it was (ever) turned on, and that firefighters just happen to find it.

Life it fraught with little how-different-things-could-be moments.