Sarah, or “Sally” Swiecki lost nearly everything she owned when her North Fork home was turned to ash during a raging blaze late last month.
Her purse, mobile phone, furniture, even things like photo albums, compiled over her 86 years, 51 of them across the Mountain Area, were all destroyed.
But there was one item that remained through the flames; her Bible, practically untouched.
“Not one word was burned in that Bible,” Swiecki said, holding up the book to show scorch marks on its front and sides. “It was black all the way around it, where it was burned. I thought it was lost.”
Inside the Bible were a collection of family memories that Swiecki said she’d never forget, like recipes and photos.
“I told people the flames of Hell will not burn God’s word,” Swiecki said. “And the flames on Earth had hidden from Him at my house.”
True to that indomitable spirit, Swiecki said she was surprised at being called an inspiration for a positive attitude as she watched her house of more than 30 years, long shared with her deceased husband, burn to the ground.
“One lady hugged me, and she was crying and asked ‘how could you be so strong,’” Swiecki said. “I said I don’t know. But I can break down, and fall down, and cry, and it’s not going to stop the flames. So why use the energy that way?”
There was, however, one thing that made her cry.
After granddaughter Melissa Jones set up a GoFundMe page for online donations, gofundme.com/sallyswiecki, Swiecki, like her son Randy Jones, were amazed as donations poured in.
“What impressed me was the strangers we don’t know, who came forward making all these calls and donations,” said Jones, who with his wife Cheryl welcomed Swiecki to their Bass Lake home after the fire. “It was so great to see people we don’t know make donations like this.”
One donation, made by an anonymous person, was for $1,000.
But Swiecki said even though she really appreciated it, that wasn’t what most touched her heart.
Instead, it was a $5 donation, from a woman they were sure is the same one Swiecki often sits and talks with at the North Fork Cemetery.
“Randy said ‘mom, you didn’t even cry when you lost your house, and you’re crying over $5,’” Swiecki said, as tears shined in her eyes. “She only had $5 to give, but she gave it anyhow ... That $5 touched me more than anything, because you don’t know what she had to give up to give it to me.”
Though she said she’s in “pretty good shape right now,” Swiecki asked for donated furnishings as she chooses a new home in Oakhurst.
She didn’t ask for much, but some furniture, dishes, and appliances like a Crock-Pot would help.
“I don’t care what shape they’re in, as long as it all works,” Swiecki laughed.
Swiecki can be reached at (559) 676-5169, and Jones can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story on the fire: bit.ly/1RkkWJ6.