Wilma Hits Home
"Over no home can the sign be hung: There is no trouble here." Chinese Proverb
Two weeks ago, my parents bought a pair of oriental lamps for their living room. Though mostly blind from AMD, my mother still loves beautiful things, especially the three-dimensional, which she can 'see' with her hands. My folks live in South Florida, and when hurricane warnings came, she placed the lamps carefully between two couches, away from the windows.
Last Thursday, thinking they might have more than lamps to worry about, my parents came to us here in Philly. Most of their friends stayed put, teasing them they'd use any excuse to come east to see their children. My mother laughed and agreed. They'd been here last year for Hurricane Charlie, which caused a little water damage when it blew out a window in their guest room.
Monday Hurricane Wilma blew back and forth across Florida, first from the Northeast, then the Southwest. Buildings were hit, trees are down, power is out, water is contaminated. We're all glad Mom and Dad are here again this time because while still active, they're in their 80's, and would find it hard to cope with the aftermath.
Last night Dan Rubin of Blinq wrote movingly about the the damage to his parent's Florida home. I told him my mother had been commiserating by phone with many of her Florida friends about wreckage in their homes.
Today the phone call came. The one we'd all been waiting for -- and dreading. From my parent's condo building manager. "I'm so sorry," he said, "but your apartment has been totaled."
Mom and Dad's apartment takes up a full corner of the building's top floor. One side faces northeast, the other southwest. Walls of windows overlook the inland waterway and the ocean. Wilma had a field day with that. She blew through the apartment, smashing and soaking and upending everything inside.
Forget the new lamps. Or any other lamps. Everything is gone. Furniture, rugs, dishes, glasses, art, chotchkies. Even the refrigerator was sucked out of its alcove and tossed like a leaf around a corner, through a hallway and into the living room. A lifetime of possessions, and precious mementos ... ruined. The destruction is massive.
Incredibly, one small area was spared. Off the master bedroom, which is set into the inner corner of the building, my mother's closet is intact. All her elegant, fashionable clothes and shoes and handbags untouched. Ironic really, the things most easily--and pleasurably--replaced, survived.
Of course, no matter how much was destroyed, my parents survived too. "We're alive," my father keeps saying. "We have insurance and a comfortable place to stay with the kids. Let's be grateful we're not on the street."
And when I lamented to my mother about the family photos that filled their apartment, she said, "I don't even care, I can't see them any more anyway. At least we're here, where I can touch my children and grandchildren."
You're right, Mom. We're so glad you're still here to 'see' us with your hands. And we'll all give you a hand rebuilding your home.