By Fadila Chater
CHIPMAN, N.B. — A New Brunswick man has posted an infectious video of his elderly parents checking out the family’s flooded-ravaged cottage, demonstrating there can be laughter in disaster — and after 46 years of marriage.
Shawn McNee posted a YouTube video in which his 75-year-old father, Robert, attempts to enter their family’s water-logged cottage on Grand Lake, one of the worst-hit areas during floods that ravaged the province this month.
The video begins with McNee’s mother, Darlene, chuckling over the camera at her husband while he fumbles to the door in knee-high rubber boots in the murky, debris-ridden water with pitchfork in hand.
“This may prove interesting, may prove funny, or disastrous,” Darlene says in the video, giggling.
Determined, and despite his wife’s playful banter, the man opens the door, peers inside and tells his wife, who is standing comfortably a few feet away on dry land, that he can’t make it past the door, try as he may.
“I told you not to do it,” Darlene says.
On his way out, he gathers himself on what appears to be a log and a slat of shingles, slipping and sliding until he loses balance and falls belly-first into the murky water — all while his wife bursts into infectious laughter.
The camera actually misses much of the fall itself — it swings to the left as Darlene laughs so hard she loses control.
“You don’t go swimming in August, why would you want to go in May?” she eventually tells him.
The scene is reminiscent of family sitcoms in which the quiet, relatable husband risks humiliating himself while the wife watches from the sidelines, making affectionately snarky comments.
The cottage, owned by Darlene and her two siblings, was built by her father in 1961 when Darlene, 72, was a teenager. She said some of her fondest memories were swimming in Grand Lake.
“Back in my day … everybody was in there swimming, even my father went in…. unlike my husband who doesn’t go in,” Darlene said in a phone interview, breaking into a fit of laughter. “I don’t think he’s put his big toe in the water.”
Darlene, who offered to check on the cottage herself, said her husband didn’t get hurt when he fell. He even drove home, wrapped in a blanket, sitting on a plastic freezer bag.
“That man went down, he stopped, dropped, rolled before I could get the camera down on him,” she said.
“I said, ‘You’re gonna have to take a hot shower you know, get that nasty germs off ya, or you’re not crawling in bed with me tonight.’”
The video, posted last Sunday, has over 2,800 views, with one YouTube commenter saying “Nice to see laughing in such hard times.”
Darlene said she has lost many irreplaceable things because of the flood, including an antique rocking chair that belonged to her grandmother and hand built tables.
“The smell in there — it’s not mould or must — it’s like a dead smell. There’s no life. And I just couldn’t get it out of my head.”
She said the damage to the cottage is well over $100,000. There is nothing worth salvaging, she said.
She said it isn’t flood insured, but hopes the government will help cottage owners like herself cover some of the damages.
“This is just stuff,” she said. “Too many people are heartbroken, but as long as everyone and their family are still kicking, that’s the main thing.”