Big Dig Sewer Replacement 02

When It Rains…

Morton SaltJuly, August, and September proved to be an unexpectedly difficult time for this family.


Remember the window shades ordeal that started back in December but never seemed to end? They were supposed to be completed mid July. Almost were. A little problem. Will reschedule.

Also, in mid-July we received a notice from the DeKalb County Department of Environmental Health that our sewer line (from a brand new house) was causing a problem in the park across the street and way down a hill. Really? How can something that far away have anything to do with us?

And, at the end of the month, my mother couldn’t catch her breath and had to be rushed to the hospital. I stopped trouble shooting the sewer problem with the Department of Health and rushed to Florida to see how serious that situation was.

The trip we had scheduled to New York City during this time was canceled.

Unbelievably, the sewer issue was related to our property. The plumber connected the new house’s sewer line to the 60 – 70 year old sewer line (made from tar paper) of the old house. It had long since crumbled deep underground. I learned all of this while in Florida getting my mother’s affairs in order at her doctors’ suggestion.

A new sewer line had to be installed to a different sewer main. While I was in Florida, these plans were drawn up and approved. My mother narrowly escaped death and appeared to be doing fine. She was moved to a rehab facility to recover and regain her strength.


With mother on the mend, I returned to Atlanta to be present for the big dig. Good grief. This was a huge mess. The driveway had to be dug up along with a significant percentage of the front yard.

Big Dig Sewer Replacement 01

Big Dig Sewer Replacement 02

Big Dig Sewer Replacement 03

Big Dig Sewer Replacement 04

Big Dig Sewer Replacement 05

Astonishingly, even though the county regulations explicitly state otherwise, and even though it appears the county has already replaced sewer lines in sewer easements and street rights-of-way for almost every house on this street, and even though the county has reportedly received $16 million designated for sewer repair, the county flat out refused to have anything to do with this project, claiming “We don’t do that anymore.” Yeah, I’m pissed!

DeKalb County Code

A new sewer pipe had to be installed under the road without digging up the road. They used a special, monstrous boring machine and kept hitting rock (Stone Mountain) which always altered the angle of the bore. The pipe had to continue down at a specific angle to keep the sewer from backing up. On the fifth and last attempt, they managed to get a successful bore and pull the new sewer line through. This process was actually interesting to watch.

Mother had another breathing spell and was rushed from rehab back to the hospital. My sister was very concerned that the multiple doctors kept changing mother’s medications, taking her off of a specific medication that she specifically needed to prevent the shortness of breath. Once the medication was started again, she improved.

The day before Steve and I were to go to Alaska for a planned and pre-scheduled vacation, the big dig was finally finished and mother was out of the hospital, back at rehab, and up walking. We made the call to go on the vacation.

At the beginning of the vacation I missed the final step on one of the ship’s stairwells and hairline fractured my kneecap. Do not let the word “hairline” fool you into thinking this injury was no big deal!

After returning to Atlanta, my mother tells me in a phone conversation that she knows she is dying. Her heart is failing. Unsure if she was being overly dramatic, as she has often been about her health, I decided I should go back down to see how things were going for myself. At any rate, she was scheduled to be discharged from rehab to go home at the beginning of September. I would be needed to help make that happen.

The night before I was to drive down, I sent my sister a list of questions for my mother’s heart doctor. My sister had been convinced my mother’s health concerns were related to the mismanagement of her medications. I was beginning to think there may be more to this situation than anyone knew.


En route to Florida, my sister told me mother was at her heart doctor appointment. She was live texting me. The situation was grave. The doctor prescribed hospice care.

When I arrived, I drove directly to mother’s room. Exhausted from the brief doctor’s visit, she was asleep. We had a wonderful visit the next day, Wednesday, which I blogged about here. The following day, Thursday, she went into hospice care and passed away on Sunday, September 6th. Her funeral was held on Wednesday, September 9th.

Tim in Hazmat Suit with FlowersJust before I arrived in Florida, my sister opened the door to a room upstairs in the house. It had been closed up since it was not being used. The room had mold everywhere! My sister and I spent the next 3 days after the funeral doing a mold abatement in hazmat garb.

While driving back to Atlanta, a week after my mother’s death, I was informed my Aunt Helen passed away. She had had a long battle with stomach cancer. My mother and Aunt Helen were close. We never told my mother Aunt Helen was in hospice also. We flew back to Florida to attend my aunt’s graveside service.

I got back to Atlanta in time to receive the last of the furniture and art we ordered for the house. The art work was installed. The last window shade was installed. The big entertaining events that had been scheduled for September and October were canceled. I just have not been in an entertaining mood.


So, for those who have wondered why I have been unusually silent on my blog, these are the reasons. Sometimes life piles up. This time life piled up high.

Also, a special thank you for the many kind remembrances and condolences on Facebook, my blog, in cards, and in flowers. Your thoughtfulness has been touching.


2 thoughts on “When It Rains…”

  1. So sorry, Tim, to hear of your losses and complications.

    Glad you got to do the Alaska cruise. I have taken it twice and would do it again. So beautiful.

    Thinking of you and hope to see you again soon.

  2. Tim,
    I enjoyed reading your blog. I am so sorry to hear about your Aunt Helen. Losing her so soon after your Mom must have been very difficult. Let me know when you are in Pensacola again so we can get together. I am keeping you and Stephen in my
    prayers, Rebecca also. I know that the next few months will be especially difficult for all of you. Please let Rebecca know that I’m thinking about her and will give her a call soon.

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