Twenty years ago this week Chicago experienced the worst heat wave

Twenty years ago this week Chicago experienced the worst heat wave
Chicago Tribune photo during the heat wave of July 1995

Twenty years ago this week, Chicago experienced the worst heat wave in recent history.  According to the Chicago Tribune, the temperature was 106 degrees on July 13, 1995.  Over 700 victims were claimed by the intensity of that heat and our city was left reeling.

My mother nearly died in that disaster.  I remember it very clearly.  My husband had called her on Friday to arrange to pick her up to do some errands.  By Saturday morning we couldn’t reach her.  My husband called repeatedly and when he went to the house she didn’t answer.

There were no cell phones then, so my husband had to call me from a pay phone.  I called the police, but they blew me off.  “She probably left without your husband,” or “she’s probably just out for a walk.”  I told them that my mother never left her house without one of us.

Finally after a half dozen calls to the police, they came to the house.  Both officers stood and watched as my husband broke down four doors to get in.  When my husband finally reached my mother, he found her in a chair, eyes open and not moving.  He thought she was dead.  He yelled at her a few times and she finally blinked.  The police called an ambulance.

Later, I realized my husband could have died trying to save my mother.  If you’ve ever read my blog before, you know that my mother and I didn’t get along.  I don’t think she was ever grateful that my husband saved her life.

The sad part is, though my mother and I were estranged, I did take care of her.  The 700 people who succumbed to that awful heat had no one to take care of them.  It was such an awful testimony to the fact that people just don’t look out for one another.

Twenty years ago this week Chicago experienced the worst heat wave.  Hopefully, that tragedy taught us to better look out for one another.

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