Dust, Bleach, and Tears

If you were born and raised in my era, you will remember the pop group Blood, Sweat, and Tears.

I was reminded of that group today when I walked into my shell of what’s left of my home and smelled a strong odor of bleach. Lots of bleach. Enough to burn my eyes.

The dust from the drywall removal is everywhere. Fans are continually blowing it around and every item still out is covered with it.

This place is a living nightmare- it is a disaster area and so is my whole neighborhood ( a Federal disaster area if you must know)  and every one of my friends who walks in bursts into tears.

Note that I have had my fair share of tears – there are more to come. This is a wrenching process – this tearing down of your home and your memories. I mean, that would be okay if it was my choice. But a force of nature made me powerless and not in control of this decision.

Every friend visiting now leaves my home with a new impression – the home of dust, bleach and tears. Not the home where a million happy memories were made, not the home where I designed each and every minor and major touch to delight anyone who visited, and made me happy to be here every day. Our home was artistic, whimsical, happy and like Disneyland, no one ever left without a smile.

“You’ll have a new house,” people who are trying to cheer me up say all the time.

What if I didn’t want a new house? What if I still wanted my old house? What if my old house didn’t look like an old house and didn’t need renovating, and in that case why would I want a new house? What if I already had granite and hardwood floors and pretty fixtures and hardware? (Again, powerless in this decision.)

I am not the only one with the above thoughts. We flood victims are all enduring hardships, grief, and displacement. Some of us are stronger stock than others. Some of us still can smile a little, laugh at something funny in between the tears. Some of us are paralyzed with fear. Such is the lot of those of us affected. We are all traumatized, and soldiering on, one foot in front of the other day by day in this whole process.

Yet, I feel compelled to write an “in memoriam” of my home as it was, because it will never be quite the same again. I mean, insurance doesn’t exactly cover all the custom features I had, such as torn wallpaper; a hand-painted child’s robot desk; a hand-painted armoire to match our linens in our bedroom. That custom desk is now a sad pile of multi-colored plywood sitting in a junk heap that our contractor has made while demolishing our interior.

The chair that can’t be replaced – the one that was shaped like a big yellow sunflower was carted off, just like the overstuffed eggplant colored sectional that held many a teen at many a get-together. (Try to find another eggplant colored sectional – yeah right.)

The front powder-room was dramatic and artistic, and my artist friend Malka cried when she saw it was gone down to the studs. “I loved that powder-room,” she lamented.

I didn’t even realize how much I loved my kids’ (middle) bathroom until it came crashing down. The lush corduroy rippled textured wallpaper – the people hardware, the gray, purple and red colors and unique multi-colored vanity made it unique and cheery. I don’t even think I have a photo of the whole intact room to remember it by.TBTbath1


(Granted the kids’ rooms that were still shrines to their youth had to go eventually.)


I don’t even have the energy or desire to do all that again. Insurance money is not going to cover all the custom stuff anyway. My husband and I are in disagreement on how the house should look. Since Gary came into it after it was already completed, he wants to use his own artistic flair and change it up. I want the same, he wants different. Will this marriage survive? (Just kidding – that’s a take on an old magazine column of that title.)

Yes, I know I was lucky to have such a special house, even if it wasn’t for a lifetime. I feel fortunate for the happy years of enjoying it, entertaining and having lots of other people, young and old enjoy it too.

I feel fortunate that my displaced dad is now safe in a place that may actually work out better for him in the long run. He will miss us and this house though. He told me so.

Here are some photos of my lovely no-more home. This time, don’t look at the people in it, but focus on the rooms.These photos don’t do it justice at all because they could never tell the whole story of what this house was to all of us.

First, facing the breakfast/eating area from family room.











TBT Sunflower



  • OMG….we feel sooooo sorry for you. I’m sure your pain is huge…your house was gorgeous. You have pictures to remind you of what was, just like pictures of your small children. Your paintings were beautiful, that sunflower chair was just toooooo cute. Of course you will recover…but never quite the same. You and Gary have great taste, redecorating will just be another huge project. Our love goes out to you, and our hope that you get thru this without too much sorrow and stress. xoxoxoxo

  • Beautiful memories captured in photos…many, many, more to come!

  • I’ve seen so many pics that I feel I’ve been there. It was beautiful and unique. I’d want to duplicate it as much as possible. This is going to sound like a strange analogy, but when we had to put our almost 15 year old poodle to sleep, we decided to get..another poodle! A slightly different color, but the same size. Of course the personalities were vastly different, but my house felt “poodl-y” again after a terrible loss, and that’s what I needed. Not just any old dog but the familiar breed.

  • I know the “new” house will be even better! There are so many more memories to be made & good times to be had!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *