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Never, Ever Walk Away


Ruth had spent the night with Husband and me.  She and I watched the birds at the birdfeeder as we ate Oatmeal Squares with green sprinkles, and we made our morning plans.  Swim.  Play with dolls.  Talk to cousin Dan and Aunt Lori on video chat.  Read.  And then, in my three-year-old Grand’s words, “Just play.”  But because I didn’t turn off the water, our plans exploded.

When Ruth and I returned home after playing in the YMCA pool, I filled the washing machine with towels and pushed start.  I threw our wet bathing suits in the laundry room sink, turned on the water faucet, and walked away.

In the playroom, Ruth dressed dolls and we had a tea party.  Then we snuggled close to see my laptop computer and video chat with Dan and his mother who live far away.  When we sang “Pat-a-Cake,” twenty-month-old Dan clapped his hands.  Ruth donned hats from the dress-up basket; Dan laughed at her silly faces.  We blew good-bye kisses and signed off.

“Gran, will you read me this book?”  Ruth put There is a Bird on Your Head! on my lap.

“Sure.  Let me put the towels in the dryer first,” I said.  When I saw water flowing under the closed laundry room door, I thought ‘Oh, no – what happened to the washer?’  I opened the door.  Water gushed like Niagara Falls over the edge of the sink.  The floor was flooded.  What I shouted can’t be printed.  I turned off the sink faucet.  The one I should have turned off an hour earlier.

I ran to our basement garage to get the wet vacuum.  The garage floor was wet, as if someone had washed my parked van.  Water dripped from 4’ x 8’ ceiling tiles and one was on the floor –soaked and crumbled.  Because Ruth stood right beside me, I calmly said, “Looks like Gran made a big mess.”

Ruth covered her ears with her hands to block out the roar of the wet vacuum as it sucked up water on the laundry room floor.  “Ruth,” I said, “why don’t you get some books and read in the kitchen?  I’ve got to use this loud machine for a while.”  She nodded and walked toward the kitchen.

About ten minutes later, I turned off the wet vac to check on Ruth.  She wasn’t in the kitchen.  She wasn’t in the living room or the garage or the playroom.  I called, “Ruth, where are you?”  Noticing that a bedroom door was closed, I opened it.  “Ruth, are you in here?”  I heard a whimper.  “Ruth, are you in the closet?”

She was.  Covered with thick white hand cream from fingertips to elbows and toes to knees.  She stood, crying.  This is not the first time she’d covered herself in some type of cream.  No doubt, she remembered the talks between her mother and her after previous cream events.  Her whimpers and tears turned into sobbing, and she collapsed in my arms.

All because I didn’t turn off the water.  Ruth and I lost our time to read and play.  My Grand cried.  I spent half a day cleaning up the laundry room.  Husband spent more time than that removing damaged ceiling tiles in the garage.  And I vowed to never walk away from a running water faucet.  Never, ever.



One Response

  1. Same kind of incident happened to me. Laundry sink in the basement left plugged and water running for about two hours. Basement flooded – carpet repaced –what a clean-up job!! Maybe it happens to lots of people in different degrees.


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