In June, the HVAC guy came to do an annual checkup of my air conditioning system. Lots of hours after he left, I went to get something in the basement – I have a one-story house with a walkout basement that’s finished – and found a water spot in the middle of the family room carpeting. It was about three feet in diameter. Forgive me, but my first thought was that the guy had had a potty accident. My second thought was to realize that he used the outside faucet to clean the A/C filter. If the pipe behind that faucet had frozen and broken over the winter, water could flood into the basement when he turned it on. But in the middle of the family room? That made no sense!
Before anyone gives me credit for my plumbing knowledge, let me explain: That pipe had frozen and broken twenty years ago, and watered one of the bedrooms in the basement. Experience being a wonderful thing, I went to look in that bedroom. There was another water spot there, about the same size! I quickly made sure the faucet was turned off. It was! Whew! And lucky me, there were only two water spots. But one in the middle of the family room? That made no sense!
After grabbing four beach towels from their storage place in the garage, I went to sop up water. Approaching the carpet on hands and knees, I realized that carpeting, which looked dry, was not. Instead of having two independent water spots, I had one huge spot. It encompassed a fourth of the bedroom floor and a third of the family room floor, not to mention the fact that there was a hole in the wall that connected the two rooms. Perhaps from gushing water?
My first reaction was to laugh because my fear had been there might be a mouse in that stack of towels from the garage and that THAT would be my problem. My second reaction was to yearn for a husband, any husband, to handle the crisis.
To all of my feminist friends, and to my daughters and granddaughters, I know that women are capable of handling issues like this. And, I did go on to handle it. And I am proud of that fact. But what my inner voice was screaming through the early part of the adventure was this: I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS MYSELF!
Hissy fit aside, I called my insurance company, and got the ball rolling on my claim. By 10 PM, I had a water extraction company in the basement sucking up water.
The next day, they were back tearing out wet carpeting and padding, removing wet baseboards, and setting up huge fans to dry things out. One of the demolition guys asked me which baseboards to remove. I was speechless. Not only do I have no knowledge of carpentry, but as I stood there, woozy from the destruction, I felt like I was patient in the ER coming back to consciousness. How could the doctor be conferring with me about what he should do next?
Of course, this thought was a gift from God. It was a reminder: “Lorie! it’s your basement not your body that’s wrecked! Be grateful!”
Through those first couple of days, I calmed myself with the thought that within two weeks everything would be back to normal. Such a strange thought! Certainly, a throwback to that old movie, The Money Pit, where the humorous refrain to every question about when a given project would be done was always, “Two weeks!” But I’ll tell you what, within two weeks, I was no longer in shock.
How did I accomplish that? Time passed. How did it pass? I got lost in jigsaw puzzles to forget my woes. When puzzles didn’t work, I went to sleep. (PMS taught me long ago that sometimes it’s the only answer.) I made no demands on myself to do any work other than respond to the insurance adjuster and then to the restoration company. With each meeting/call, I made the decision at hand. One step at a time and one day at a time, I was restored to normalcy, and the basement was scheduled for a similar fate.
When I finally got back to work, to my blogging, I was amazed to see that the story I had been writing before the calamity told of my mom’s stellar handling of frozen pipes when I was a child! This coincidence helped another pop to mind: Mom and Dad once dealt with extensive water damage. The condo above theirs had a major fire, and the water that saved the neighbor’s condo, nearly destroyed theirs.
As I chatted with my brother about this, he reminded me that the end result of Mom and Dad’s catastrophe was a gorgeous home, completely remodeled and redecorated. He encouraged me to adjust my frame of mind, to think of my mishap as a good excuse to redecorate, and to enjoy the process. He’s my big brother, so I listened.
I am grateful for the mindset he provided and for the insurance policy that helped me act on it. I am also grateful for all the other family members and friends who kept calling to encourage me – to make sure that I did not feel all alone – as I handled the situation.
Eleven weeks have passed since the pipe burst. If you ask me when my beautiful new basement will be complete, I’d have to say, “two weeks.” I chuckle at the thought…and appreciate my return to laughter.
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