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A Drive to the Store

A simple drive to the store has not been the same since the summer of 2011.

You think everything is fine, just going about your normal business-- and out of the corner of your eye you get the quickest snapshot of someone else’s life.

Today the snapshot came from behind the Arrowhead Shopping Center -- one of the hardest hit areas of the flood. I turned just in time to see an elderly woman just inside the doorway of very small and older home, with a broom, sweeping the dust and debris out of her home. Only there was no door. The doorway was now a giant rectangular swath cut out from where the door used to be. On the front steps a stooped over elderly gentleman stood talking to a younger man.

In that moment I wish I was a photographer with a camera. Such a candid black & white post-flood recovery picture that would make -- more than 1000 words encapsulated in that space of that oversized doorframe.

It was obvious that they were trying to fix up their house. They had probably lived in it most their lives. It was paid for. It was all they had and wasn’t it bad enough that they lost all their perennials -- iris and tulips and several trees that they had raised from seedlings well over 20 feet tall when the waters came -- but now they have no door. And the wind blows. And the dust gets into the corners. And the warped floors have become coated with brown sawdust and white sheetrock dust and the black mixture of mud and dust from all the strangers that continually come in and out and under that doorless entryway.
And this is all I can do, she thinks. Sweep. It keeps her from going crazy. It gives a meaning to the horrific destruction of her life. The simple swish swish of the broom pushing the dust outside the door to be picked up by the wind and be brought back in -- much like the continual rolling of the boulder up the hill -- She has become Sysiphus, sentenced to an eternity of useless efforts and unending frustration. Only, she is not frustrated. She is doing what she knows best at this moment in time. Keeping the dust out of her house. Keeping house! And, in so doing, reclaiming her house with a broom as her own and as something still worthy of claiming.

She is, one might say, quite regal with that broom in hand. The broom becomes her scepter, proud queen of her own domain -- her only domain -- door or no door. It is hers. It is, rather, theirs. And they have worked their entire lives for this particular home on the corner of N. 16th St. She isn’t about to let 7 feet of water take that away from her or muddy up her entryway.

And all this, we see, with a simple drive to the store!