I will never forget October 29th. It was the night Super-storm Sandy hit NY. One of the hardest hit areas was the southern shore of Long Island, and in particular, the area near my parents home. My mother was supposed to fly to Florida to be with my father (Grampy Mike) in Florida, but due to weather, all flights were cancelled, and my mother was caught in Long Island. Friends that chose to stay in our neighborhood begged her to go to higher ground or locations that had generators, but she refused. She wanted to stay in her home. At that point, her cancer was taking over, and wether I want to admit it or not, she was tired. She had been fighting so hard for so long, and I think she was truly exhausted. She was on oxygen at this point, and could not bear the thought of packing up a bag and traveling anywhere. And so she stayed. She stayed in her home as the storm raged and destroyed the home that she loved so much. Several feet of water poured into the house, trapping my mother on the second floor, without food or running water. When the waters receded, my mother was able to go downstairs and access the damage. It was as bad as you would expect. My mother was able to get a flight out not long after that. And then something amazing happened, a family friend named Hanne, and her incredible family, without our even asking, came to the house and moved every stick of furniture that they could to higher ground, packed up all of my families special treasures (art, family photos etc.) and moved them to safety.
My mother needed to return to NY a couple of months later for treatments and follow up. At that point, our house was stripped to the studs with no heat or water, and so Hanne generously let us stay at her home nearby. I went to NY to be with her during that session of treatment and progress diagnosis, and when we all went and saw the house stripped to the studs, I believe that something in my mother gave up. Construction is hard for even the most hale and hearty among us, but imagine that you are threadbare, and exhausted, and sick, and you have the looming Spector of months of upheaval, and mess and decision making...So with that in my mind, I decided that we all needed to try and put this house back together, and to make a light at the end of the tunnel, to give my mom something to look forward to. It was a family affair. My stepsister Cynthia, who is an amazing kitchen designer, hand drafted an incredible kitchen layout, and we tried to incorporate all the things my mom loved in a kitchen. As I have mentioned before, my mother loved the kitchen, it was truly the heart of the home for her, and I desperately wanted her to have something to look forward to when she was so sick, so In addition to the kitchen, I worked on all kinds of mood boards for the house, anything that would giver her a reason to look forward, and not give up.
My mother was able to see the beginnings, to see the images, and to look forward, but I think there was really no way to sweep away all of the sadness. My mother passed away 5 months later. She never did see the house put back together.
Remodeling my own kitchen takes me right back to working on hers. After the storm, so may things in my mom's kitchen were destroyed. One silly, simple thing that remained was the sweet little desk chair above. The lemon pattern above happened to work perfectly with the sage colored cabinets. I am so glad that that chair and cushion are still there, it is the last decorative touch of hers in the kitchen.
Below is a picture of the fabric that will be the decorative element in my new kitchen. (banquette cushion and cornice boxes) I wish I could show this all to my mom, but truly, I believe she is seeing it all.