Finding joy in a flooded basement

blogDSCN8624Things could be worse.

Here at Mama’s Empty Nest we experienced a rude awakening this morning.  Hubby gently roused me and asked if I had to work today.  Bewildered and groggy, I replied, “No, why?”

“Good thing,” he answered.  “We have no hot water.”  As he shivered from a cold shower and quickly dressed, I gathered my wits.

A trip to the basement revealed a flood surrounding the vicinity of the hot water tank.   Great.  Hubby hurriedly moved nearby items away from the source and started squeegee-ing water towards the basement floor drain.  Mindful of my bad back, I moved light boxes out of the way and tried to see how far the water had spread.

Our basement is full – and I do mean full – of all kinds of things in storage.  Our nest is a revolving door with our adult children coming and going and using it as a depository for all of the extra stuff they don’t need yet or want in their apartments.  So boxes, plastic tubs, furniture, small appliances, and all kinds of what-nots await in monstrous piles to be transported to their permanent homes when the kids marry and finally get settled.

I quickly surveyed oldest daughter’s piano to make sure it was out of harm’s way and was relieved to see it was.  Drat, I thought.  We’ll have to move all this stuff around tonight when hubby gets home and haul out some wet carpeting to the garbage.  In addition, we’ll have to open up some boxes and make sure nothing was damaged.  Not what I had planned today, that’s for sure.  And darn it, my achy back and hip are bothering me again as well!  Plus there’s the expense of purchasing and installing a new hot water heater.  What a way to begin the day!

Back upstairs in the kitchen, hubby heated water in the teakettle so he could shave and leave for work while I perused the telephone book yellow pages in search of a repairman.   After a couple unsuccessful calls, I talked to a gentleman who lived near our home.  “I’ll be over in just a few minutes,” he promised.

True to his word, this repairman arrived not long after I jumped out of my jammies and into some clothes.  He assessed the situation quickly and said he’d be back in no time with a new water heater, but he would have to bring some help as he recently had emergency surgery and wasn’t able to lift heavy objects.

I offered how sorry I was for that, and he remarked with a laugh, “Oh, it could be worse!”  I couldn’t get over how chipper he was and how much of an optimist he appeared to be.   He was downright jovial, I thought, and laughed easily as we chatted.  Must be one of those early morning people, I decided.

He returned with two friends and a brand new water heater in tow.  While he worked, we discussed how things don’t last, how outrageously expensive items are, and how we get less for our money nowadays.   “Oh well,” he said, “it could be worse.”

He repeated that saying several times in the course of our conversation.  Finally, he revealed the reason for his opinion.  A few months ago, a man had been working on a gas line in a nearby town and the deep ditch he was in collapsed onto him.  He was encased in soil, unable to move for quite some time until rescue workers were able to free him.

That man was my water heater repairman today.   As he casually mentioned it, claustrophobic me was shocked.  I said, “Oh, bless your heart! How did you stand it? I would have died from fright!”

He said, “You know, I could have died, but I didn’t even have one broken bone from the weight of all that dirt on me.  I figure God wanted me to stay here for something.  It just wasn’t my time.”

And he laughed.   He.  Laughed.  This man had stared down death and instead of being paralyzed by the trauma of what had happened to him, he rejoiced in life.   His demeanor was full of joy.  Joy for life.  Joy for his work.  Joy for each day.

He continued by saying that he doesn’t get upset over things like he used to.  Those things are trivial and he said it again, “It could always be a lot worse.”

What a lesson I was given early this morning for this day in my book of Opportunity.   Waking up to no hot water and a flooded basement floor wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t the end of the world either.  I had water, I had a warm home, I had all the other necessities of life right at my fingertips.

And I had a prompt and able repairman who installed my new water heater and had it working by 10:15 this morning.  I appreciated his quick response and his ability to restore my hot water.

But you know what?  I appreciate the lesson he gave me about joy even more.  He reminded me that no matter what trouble comes your way, there’s joy to be found because “it could always be worse.”

Copyright  ©2012


26 responses

  1. Oh my goodness, I LOVE this post. It’s always so nice to hear about people who have good, positive attitudes. Positively infectious. Thank you very much for sharing it!

    Our water heater exploded last year — and all the sudden we had a hot steamy mess in the basement. I wish you all the best as you clean up and move forward! (Glad, though, that you remembered to document this so we all could see!)


    • Happy you enjoyed this man’s infectious attitude; I know I sure did! Your water heater exploded?? Yikes!!! I’m glad mine just leaked all 40 or so gallons of water. Since I started photographing for my blog, it seems that’s all I think of — “oh, this would be a good picture.” I mean, really, who would take a picture of their messy, wet basement? I would! 😀


  2. What a blessing that man was to you. I’m sure he knows that the reason the Lord didn’t take him yet was so that he could share this lesson with folks he meets along the way. Good for him! May he live many, many more happy years!


  3. This is wonderful. Recently while traveling at a rest stop my hubby walked around the coach & car as he always does & once again we were ready to roll. Just a few miles down the road we stopped at a campground for the night & after parking he called me outside & said ‘I need to show you something that will explain itself’. We had lost the tailpipe & chrome extention on the coach. Costly also, but a blessing. No one was injured & our coach is now road worthy. Like the man said ‘It could have been worse’,


  4. Mama, methinks your hot water heater broke today for a purpose! What a wonderful booster shot of reality and joy in this gentleman. Oh, and by happenstance, ours went also, last Sunday afternoon. MB had it fixed in an hour, but without the happy smiles. I think I liked your guy better! 🙂


  5. Oh,, this story is very special. We tend to get so upset over events like the water heater until reminded of other troubles and other outlooks. Your water heater man is truly a gem and your story is too.


      • The world could use a few more bloggers like you too Mama. And because I have just been given the Versatile Blogger Award from Kate Kresse, I am passing it on to you. I know you are brimming over with awards but it’s my way of telling you how impressed I am with your work and your inspirational comments. I am delighted to have found you. For details on the award you can find them on my blog post called Promoting Pride in Blogging. Dor


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