My grandmother, who my brothers and I referred to as "Nana," tortured her grandchildren and neighbors by taking outside showers in her garden clothes, well, that is, until the shower broke, and she couldn't find a person within miles to fix it. The shower or pipe stood about five feet long with a shower head, and a place where you could attach a hose on the side, like a shower/water faucet combination.
There was a concrete floor under the shower so your feet didn't sink in the grass and form a muddy mess while you bathed.
My grandmother's property was in an old neighborhood that accommodated the new world: for instance, her garden and ancient outside shower were next door to her neighbor’s tennis court and paved driveway, although Nana’s circular drive was gravel.
But, the ingredients of the old and new worlds did coexist, although sandwiched between my grandmothers back porch and the neighbor’s back door and tennis court, stood the outside shower.
My brothers and I played in the water pipe/shower, especially in the summer, and the outside water hose/pipe/shower, also functioned as a water supply to the garden and the rest of the side yard, when necessary.
My grandmother never understood why her grandchildren refused to take an outside shower, although, I think she did notice how eager we were to bathe inside.
It never occurred to her that perhaps our reluctance to bathe outside was the fact that her neighbors had a clear view of the garden shower, as well as the breakfast table. In other words, she could never grasp the fact that the people next door may not wish to view her soap her body, garden clothes or not, in the gleaming sun while they drank their morning coffee.
When her neighbors began to complain about their view from the breakfast table, we took it as one of the first clues that the best of both worlds were going to collide- It was just a matter of time-
I will never forget the evening we received our next clue...It is an evening that will stay with me for a long time.
One morning I heard my older brother screaming so loud from Nana's back porch we thought he's been bitten by a snake,
“Nana! Please stop!” he yelled, however, impossible it was for her to hear. But, he continued,
“I swear Nana, I’m never coming over here again if you don’t stop. Mr. Coors (her neighbor) is having a tennis party next door for some of his friends at the Country Club! They can see you, Nana!” he screamed so loud, you could see veins popping out of his neck,
“They are watching you right now!"
I saw my brother jumping up and down waving his hands at my grandmother, while she slowly lathered the shampoo in her hair, oblivious to his shrieking! (Or she was pretending she couldn't hear him.)
My eyes followed my brother, who ran from the back porch to my grandmother's garden generating the attention of the tennis party next door from waving his hands back and forth, and jumping up and down in the middle of tomato plants; hence, the red juice from the fruit splashed into the air like fireworks.
Picture this image: My grandmothers neighbors guests playing tennis next door at their party, Nana's garden, my brother jumping up and down screaming, and my grandmother gently lathering her hair. I stood on her back porch wishing a nice family would rescue me from the insane one I was born into.
Although, now when I recall those memories I'm grateful our minds are capable of recording moments experienced long ago, because I can replay the voice and character of my best friend, who was also my grandmother, Nana. So often we forget the impact our family members have on our lives, until we think of a song, smell, or see something like an outside shower to help us remember a moment shared long ago.
Nana passed away eight years ago, and I still recall this shower drama as if it were yesterday. I hope that when we remember a shared experience of long ago that the ones we've lost remember also remember.
-Because that day, I witnessed heaven on earth.-