The day the dishwasher died

If you are old enough, you remember where you were the day of the Kennedy assassination, or when you heard the news that Elvis Presley died.

I’ve added a new date to my list of traumatic events: the day the dishwasher died.

Our Kenmore Elite was 13 years old, so I should have seen it coming. Patrick resuscitated it several times over its faithful years of service, utilizing his engineering skills and collection of Craftsman’s.

Despite its age and a few warning signs, I was still shocked when I walked through the door to this horrifying scene.


Photo by Shallow Reflections™

It plunged me into the stages of losing-a-major-appliance grief.

  1. Denial. Does this mean dishwashing…by hand? NO! Say it isn’t so? Couldn’t I still load it, and hose dishes with the sink sprayer?
  2. Anger. Who is to blame? Is it possible I clogged the motor with broken glass? Should I have scraped paper labels off marinara jars used for my ‘homemade’ sauce? Doesn’t the god of appliances know how much I suck at washing dishes?
  3. Bargaining. After Patrick determined the fix was beyond his skills and there wasn’t a YouTube with anything to offer, he called the repairman. I began a chant about how I would do better. I promised not to break any more dishes, would remove large food particles, and be alert to dental floss curled in the bottom my milk glass. I promised to use name brand detergent instead of generic. I vowed to buy jet dry.
  4. Depression. The repairman rendered his $60 diagnosis. The cost of repair was prohibitive considering the age of the dishwasher. It made more ‘cents’ to buy a new one. Dashed was my dream of a new pump or motor whirring this beauty back into life. I lacked motivation to research Consumer Reports, or go shopping. I cried as I envisioned my next paycheck washed away with the grey water. I made a feeble attempt to keep the dirty dishes from overtaking the kitchen.
  5. Acceptance. A calmness rinsed over me. I accepted the inevitable. We bought a new dishwasher, reinforcing Dave Ramsey’s rule that one should always have a $1000 emergency fund. The old dishwasher is on its way to an unmarked appliance gravesite.

Now that I have endured this ebb and flow of emotions, I find myself in the midst of gratitude.

I am thankful we could afford a new dishwasher. I am happy to live in a world where I don’t have to go to the river, break a hole in the ice and wash dishes on the frigid shore. Or plunge chapped hands into hot, soapy water, to hand wash dishes mostly clean, depending on the dish wiper to finish the job.

As my mother’s life expectancy waned, when she bought a new appliance, she reasoned, “This one should last for the rest of my life.” It reminds me that I outlived this dishwasher, and I will not take life for granted. I’m prepared to celebrate when my new one wears out as a badge of longevity (mine, not the dishwashers). Right after I go through the five stages of grief.

When was the last time you had to replace a major appliance? Did you accept its demise with grace or fight it knife and fork, like I did?

Molly Stevens

About Molly Stevens

Molly Stevens arrived late to the writing desk but is forever grateful her second act took this direction instead of adult tricycle racing or hoarding cats. She was raised on a potato farm in northern Maine, where she wore a snowsuit over both her Halloween costume and her Easter dress.