A basement, a bedroom and a impromptu indoor pool
I have asked my friends and readers to send in stories of kindnesses that have changed their lives or just their day. I have some, but am hoping for more to post this month so if you have one, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please let me know if you want to remain anonymous or if I am free to publish your name here.
I thought to start I would share a story of my own. I am blessed to have many, but I have picked this one for today.
A few years ago, we had a bizarre rainstorm in my hometown. It poured like nothing we had ever seen before. People were canoeing in the parking lot of the mall and rivers were running down the streets. It was incredible to watch the lightening and the sheets of water hit the ground.
Unfortunately, the next day we woke up to find an indoor pool we hadn't ordered in our basement. The kids thought it was hilarious as we scrambled to find shop vacs and fans and call the insurance adjuster. As it turned out, we were one of the lucky ones who didn't have sewage pumping up into our basement from broken drains and even broken toilets. Though we were grateful beyond measure for the lack of floaters, it also meant that the insurance company would do nothing for us.
Another important detail in this story was that we had a teenager staying with our already large six person family and another couple moving in a week to join us in our four bedroom house. Staring at my drenched basement carpet and drywall, while my children joked about building a sailboat made me want to scream. It was definitely one of those stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off moments.
As Alex began shoving soggy books and ruined treasures into garbage bags, I did the only thing I could think of in the moment and called one of my good friends who owned a truck.
"Can I borrow your husband and your truck for the afternoon?" "Sure, why?" "My basement flooded and its really bad. I need to take a few loads to the dump and start tearing apart drywall." "Sure thing. I'll send him right over."
While Alex picked away at the basement, I headed to the hardware store for some work gloves and heavy duty garbage bags. I was gone for about an hour as I had stopped for a little private pity party on the way. By the time I returned, my house was full of about thirty people who I had varying degrees of relationship with. Some I barely knew. My friend, knowing how many people were about to live in our house, had rallied the troops on our behalf. Halfway through the afternoon, the basement was cleared, the soggy drywall had been cut away and complimentary pizza had arrived from the local pizza place owned by good friends. Even thinking about it now brings tears to my eyes.
When dinner was over, the men folk were sitting around and asked if we had anything else that needed to get done. Alex said he had been meaning to take out the old broken fireplace downstairs and lengthen the living room so we could add a wall for another bedroom. Well, they all lit up with the excitement of three year old boys in a new sandbox and started listing off who owned axes and sledge hammers. Luckily at that point I had to go to work so the demolition phase could happen without my fretting presence.
Within a week, our house was better suited for our big family than it had been before the flood.
The great thing about this story is that it was not just our lives that this kindness effected. In the coming weeks, some of the people who had been invited to our house that day started opening up to each other with more vulnerability than they had had the courage to before. We got to participate in all sorts of kindnesses initiated by that group of people because one day my friend wouldn't settle for just sending her husband and his truck. That, my friends, is the great thing about kindness. It is contagious.