How A Rogue Toilet Can Give Us Perspective

AUTHOR: | POSTED: November 27, 2010 | COMMENTS: None Yet - Post a Comment
CATEGORIES: Holidays, Pre-2/16 & Post-2/16, Tags: , , , ,

Carolyn Savage

This was our year to host my family for Thanksgiving!  After having spent the morning at the hospital with Sean during his colonoscopy, I was racing through the store, knocking a few more items off of my “to-do” list when my cell phone rang.  It was Sean.

Me: What?  (tone…not so nice)

Sean: We’ve got a problem. There’s water pouring through the family room ceiling.  The master bathroom toilet overflowed.

Me: Are you on drugs?

Sean: Yes…but that’s not the point.  I tried to soak it up with towels but there’s too much.  I turned the water off so it’s stopped.

I was shocked.  Of course I was shocked that our second floor bathroom was flooded and our family room ceiling was leaking, but I was even more shocked that Sean knew how to turn the water off.   After shaking off the stunning news, I barked an order to get the wet vac and suck it all up, begged him to stop trying to soak it up with every bath towel in my house, and informed him that I was finishing my errands and I’d be home shortly to help.  After all, we had sixteen people arriving in less than 24 hours for a three day stay in our home.  We needed food!

I’ll never forget walking through the door that afternoon and seeing the latex bubble of water hovering over our family room carpet.

Sean: What’s that?

Me: It’s a bubble.

Sean: What’s in the bubble?

Me: Toilet water, I believe.

A few moments later I heard a whoosh as a deluge of water gushed onto the carpet below.  (Did I mention that Stanley Steemer had been there the night before?)  In that moment, I yelled my only curse word of the incident.  It was the “mother” of all curse words and for that I am regretful, but it should be noted that I only said it once, which–given the situation–was an act of restraint.

Within a few moments the yellow pages were opened, and a disaster clean-up company was enroute.  An hour later, we had a team of fifteen workers ripping out our carpeting, bathroom floor and what was left of our family room ceiling.  They set up no less than ten industrial size fans and four huge dehumidifiers and sealed off our family room with sheets of plastic.  The goal?  Try to dry everything out in order to put everything back the next day, before our guests arrived.

Before any of this melee unfolded, I had made a date with our sixteen year old to go see the new Harry Potter movie that night.  You see, Harry Potter is our “thing.”  When Drew and Ryan were six and four, I started reading the Harry Potter books to them.  Ryan liked it, but Drew loved it.  We saw the first few movies as a family but the last few were dates for Drew and me.  When Drew saw the mess in our home he could see our movie plans going up in smoke.

Drew: Can we still go to the movie?

Me (totally annoyed):  Of course I can’t go.  We have sixteen people coming tomorrow, we have no ceiling or carpet in the family room, and our bathroom floor is gone.

Drew: So.  There’s nothing you can do about that anyways. We should go on with our plans and see the movie.

Hmmm….he had me there.  He was right.  There was nothing I could do but wait for the mess to dry.  Me– sitting there staring at it– wasn’t going to make it go away.  Stressing and stewing about how I wanted my house to look for my family, and how it was probably going to look when they arrived, served no worthwhile purpose.  Plus, I had been looking forward to my time with Drew.

That’s when it hit me.  Pre-2/16/09 my reaction would have been different.  I would have probably wallowed a bit.  I had worked so hard to make our home cozy and comfortable for the Thanksgiving.  But now, post-2/16/09, perspective won the day.  I figured, “What the hell…might as well go to the movie, enjoy my son, and thank God that when I go to bed tonight, everything that is important is just as good as it was this morning. “

As I sat at the movies that evening, I looked at Drew and thought about what I’ve learned.  Carpeting and drywall can be replaced.  Time with my son, however, is precious.  He is on the verge of driving.  He’s eyeballing colleges.  I’m going to blink, and he’ll be gone.  After giving our fourth baby to his genetic parents shortly after delivery, I’ve learned to treasure my time with our kids.  That’s what’s important to me and that’s what I’m thankful this year…time and perspective.

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