Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Sleeping with Sewage

hmmm....Freud might have a field day with my blog's obsession with sewage. But somehow my life seems to attract a lot of it. Maybe I'm one of those "vessels of dishonor" (read: toilet) that St. Paul talks about. Who am I to say to The Potter "Why do I keep collecting crap???" Maybe its because I can.

Well, anyway....I'm sitting here while the thinset dries in my father in law's bathroom.
He overflowed his toilet for the third time a couple days ago. If it weren't for gravity and the fact that our bedroom is in our basement, and our bed is right underneath his bathroom, that wouldn't be such a bad thing. Physics, unlike some other logical principles, works in our house, so the water and all that it carries with it falls on our bed.

The first time he did it we were gone. He was still well enough we could leave him alone for a couple hours at a time. I came home and heard something like a tub filling. I found Gil in his bathroom standing in about two inches of water flushing the toilet over and over. I went downstairs and my ceiling had a belly like a whale and there was water flowing down the walls and about an inch of water on the floor. We pulled up the carpet and well.... other stuff.

The second time the sump pump went out in our basement. The sump pump pumps the waste from the toilet upstairs into the sewer lines. If it doesn't pump, it overflows. It flooded my office floor with about 5 gallons of sewage. It was late in the day so I had to replace it. Fishing an old sump pump out of a twenty gallon tank in the floor that services your toilet in the basement is not for the weak. Now I know why contractors call plumbers "turd herders". About 10:00pm I finished the installation and was getting ready to go to bed. I walked in my bedroom and there was a stream of water falling onto my bed through a hole in the ceiling. I ran upstairs and there was Gil. He was doing the same thing but we caught him before the whole bathroom was full and it only soaked our bed.

This time, I decided that to rely on Gil's ability to reason, I should rely on my ability to build things to keep it from happening again. So I ripped up his floor, put in new plywood and cement backer board, sloped the floor and put in a floor drain, a new commercial grade toilet and waterproof tile on the floor.

Gil sits in his chair in his bedroom while I'm working in his bathroom. I walk by him and he says, "I'm so sorry you have to do this."

I think, "Yeah, so am I." But not because I resent him, but because the world is fallen and people shouldn't get degenerative neurological diseases that eat at their brains and nervous systems and organs. I'm sorry I have to do this because it isn't fair that he feels like a burden on us, even though he is, but not in the way he thinks. And yeah, I'm sorry I have to do this because I HAVE to do it because my life is so narcissistic and self centered that I need God to dish out crap to me to make me serve someone else, be compassionate, not resent the inconveniences of other people's needs, and serve the lost, the helpless, the ones who cannot return a favor except by saying "I'm sorry you have to do this......"

I remember over 3 decades ago praying to God "Thou art the Potter, I am the clay... break me and make me into a vessel for your purposes." Little did I know God would decide I needed to be a toilet. Glory to God.


Anonymous said...

s-p; I cannot even begin to imagine how deep your father-in-law's sadness and shame must be even in the the midst of this horrible disease. Enough so that he can utter, "I am sorry...." My aunt has Alzheimer's. I was her primary caregiver until about 2 years ago when she had me "removed." Her reasons were real to her, though ridiculous to me. But her rejection nearly killed me, even though I know it is fed by a degenerative brain disease and by strangers who don't know me nor have cared to. To watch her slip away, the woman who nurtured my faith and taught me to do watercolors other art work and taught me to stand up for myself, to watch her no longer be able to do those things and that I am no longer welcome in her life to serve her...well...it's hard.

God have mercy on her. God have mercy on Gil. God have mercy on we who serve...hands on...or by staying away.

Fr. John McCuen said...

Having also prayed, "lord, even if I am only to be a vessel fit for base use, allow me to be useful in Your service," I can relate to your own experience, as powerfully described here in this message. It's probably a good thing that we don't know what may come our way when we ask for it, or we would probably never ask. It is also a good thing that we have the hope that all things work together for good for those who love God; thta can help pull us through an otherwise-intolerable situation...

Priest Raphael said...

Stumbled upon your blog, after having been directed here by Obvious Ron....YOur honest post about real suffering, and your courageous acceptqnce of your cross, has done my heart good...thanks!

Pintradex said...

I second Fr. Deacon Raphael's words.