Home > Uncategorized > Drip, Drip, Drip (The Leak That Turned Out To Be A Good Thing)

Drip, Drip, Drip (The Leak That Turned Out To Be A Good Thing)

Drip, drip, drip.  Where was the noise of that water dripping coming from?  Had someone forgotten to turn off a faucet?


I came home to an empty house.  Angela and Samuel had already left for a mother-son school event at Dave and Buster’s.  With a rare free night to myself, I wasn’t sure what to do.  Read?  Work on my next book?  Watch a movie?  Eat a pizza?  Since we were headed to Austin the coming weekend to see my youngest brother, the one training for an Ironman in May, and since he’d asked me to go bike riding with him, I’d decided to log an an extra long workout on the bike.  I couldn’t let my Ironman brother embarrass me or leave me behind on the bike.

That older brother younger brother competitive thing never goes away.

Upstairs, I changed clothes and walked by the bathroom.  I noticed my socks felt different…damp, then wet, then squishy wet.  My socks shouldn’t feel squishy wet.  I looked at the floor, saw water, and discovered the toilet had overflowed.  I unclogged the toilet with the plunger and dried the floor with towels.

Crisis averted.

At least, unclogging toilets fell within the domain of my handyman skills.  Anything else and I might have been in trouble.

I changed into a dry pair of socks and went downstairs  to begin my workout.  I checked the iPod to make sure it was fully charged and just before I got on the stationary bike, I remembered to get a water bottle.

I walked into the kitchen, past the refrigerator, into the pantry, and grabbed a water bottle which I filled up at the sink.  Leaving the kitchen, I felt a grumble in my stomach.  Food.  I needed a light snack before working out.

And then I heard a dripping noise.  Drip, drip, drip.

Had I not turned off the water at the sink?

I walked into the kitchen towards the refrigerator to get something to eat, the very spot I’d walked past a few minutes before, and saw a pool of water on the floor next to the fridge.  It looked as if someone had poured water on the floor.  Who would do such a thing?

That drip, drip, drip was getting louder.

I looked up and noticed water running down the side of the fridge.  What would cause water to run down the side of the fridge?

My eyes followed the flow of water to the top of the refrigerator where I saw water covering the entire top of the fridge.  How did that happen?


I looked up at the ceiling.  Oh, water was covering the top of the fridge, running down its side, and onto the floor because there was water dripping from the ceiling, from the very spot where the toilet had previously been overflowing.

OH (and then you can insert whatever word you might use followed by an exclamation point)!!!!!!!!!

I cleared off the top of the fridge- a book, some Clif Bars, and a jar of peanuts- and tossed them in the trash.  They were soaked, soaked with water from an overflowing toilet.  I dried off the top of the fridge, the side of the fridge, and the floor.  I tried drying the ceiling with a towel, but the water  continued dripping through the ceiling.  When I couldn’t find a bucket, I left a towel on top of the refrigerator to catch the water and then I directed a fan at the ceiling.

There wasn’t much else I could think to do at the moment so I washed my hands and sat down at the kitchen table.  The night before I’d commented to Angela, “Financially, we’re doing okay, as long as nothing unexpected happens.”

I was thinking cars breaking down and visits to the doctor, not home repairs.

My mind imagined everything that might require fixing- a broken toilet, damaged flooring, soaked sheet rock, mold (please don’t let there be any mold), and probably ten other things I couldn’t think of.  Not only could this be a financial drain, but a home repair headache, an inconvenience and an irritation.  I was getting a headache just thinking about it.  Jeez, we’d dealt with tornado damage to our home less than a year ago, didn’t we get some sort of cosmic grace period on damages to our house?

Over time, I’ve slowly grown to understand stuff breaks.  You probably- probably- won’t see me kicking the tires of a car when it breaks down (although if you’d owned my 1969 Mustang, the one that broke down every other week, you might’ve kicked its tires too).  But knowing- even expecting things to break- doesn’t mean I like it anymore.  At best, I’ve learned to tolerate the natural order of stuff breaking.

I’ve just about given up on trying to fix the items in need of repair.  Call it mental peace, knowing your limts, or maintaining marital bliss.  I might consider the idea for a moment, but then I remember the agreement I’ve made with Angela.  “I will not try to fix things that break.”

When I’ve attempted home repairs before, the process usually led to me further damaging the already broken item, thereby creating bigger messes and costing us more money.  (And there might have been some anger and frustration thrown in as well.  Like I said, it’s been a slow process.)

So I sat at the kitchen table staring at the water stains all along the kitchen ceiling.  And out of nowhere, I thought about my Dad.  I’m not sure why.  In the first year after he passed, I thought of him often, sometimes on purpose and sometimes not (those punched in the gut moments I wrote about in my book about him, One Last Word).  But as time progressed, the purposeful as well as unexpected thoughts about him became less and less.  It wasn’t as though I’d forgotten about him.  We have a picture of him on the wall along our staircase and I see his bearded face every time I go up or down the stairs.  From time to time, Samuel will ask about him and I’ll tell him a story or two about my Dad.  But I didn’t stop and think about him as much.

In the past I would’ve called him for advice about the water damage.  What do I do?  What’s the worst case scenario?  What’s the best case scenario?  I would never ask him who to call because he’d get upset with me for not fixing it myself, but I’d ask him enough questions so that I could sound halfway intelligent when the professionals showed up.

I think he knew I wasn’t going to try to fix this stuff myself.  He would tell me how this stuff wasn’t that hard.  Apparently, he’d forgotten what my handiwork looked like.  Old age must’ve erased his memories of me “helping” him with one of the cars or building a bookshelf or hanging a ceiling fan.  (And by helping, I mean he worked while I watched.)

Drip, drip, drip came the water through the ceiling.

This was going to be a mess and there wasn’t anything I could do to reverse it.  But if there were an upside, if there were a good thing to come from these drips of toilet water through the ceiling, other than me finally being forced to paint the kitchen ceiling, then it was those few minutes when I sat at the kitchen table and thought about my Dad- like the time I helped him hang a ceiling fan and it crashed to the floor and smashed in half.

“Why didn’t you catch it?” he asked.

“I didn’t know I was supposed to.”  And my eyes had been focused on the television, but I didn’t mention that part.

He looked at me and shook his head.

There were other moments and other stories that came to mind, but this time they came with a smile instead of tears.

Drip, drip, drip.


In case you’re wondering about the damages.  The plumber said the toilets were fine, the floors didn’t buckle, the tiles weren’t ruined (much to Angela’s dismay), and I was able to do the one other home repair I can- I painted the ceiling.

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