Now that I have grandchildren of my own, I think more and more about my own grandparents. My grandchildren’s way of life is so far removed from that of just a few generations before them that they may never truly comprehend what was considered normal not so long ago.
My grandma and grandpa lived in an old farm house with a tin roof nestled in a holler in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri. They had running water in the kitchen, but no bathroom. They used a doorless ramshackle outhouse that faced the chicken coop for their calls of nature and took sponge baths from the kitchen sink.
Shortly after my grandpa passed away, my uncle blocked off a section of the living room and built a tiny bathroom for Grandma. Her rugs, shower curtain, soap dish, toothbrush holder and all other accessories were pink. In place of a door, Grandma hung up a pink curtain.
I will never forget my first visit to the farm after the bathroom was built. Grandma showed me the new room with a giant smile and asked, “What do you think of my pretty pink potty room?”
“It’s really nice, Grandma,” I replied with a smile.
“Now you don’t have to shoo the chickens or other critters away so you can pee,” Grandma said proudly.
The new bathroom was a big deal for the whole extended family. My immediate family traveled three hours to visit, so we always spent the night. Thanks to the new pink potty room, we didn’t have to go outside to do our business. No more wading through snow drifts and freezing half to death on the trek to the outhouse in the middle of the night. No more chasing the chickens off the throne so we could relieve ourselves. No more checking for snakes all around the shack before sitting down.
The pretty pink potty room suddenly seemed like a an absolute necessity when we had survived just fine without it for years. Something that had simply been a part of life seemed archaic and ridiculous once there was an alternative.
Progress is ever present. We find new ways to make our lives easier all the time. We can even have a robot vacuum cleaner if we want. We video chat with people on the other side of the world. We find information with a few key strokes. Despite these modern conveniences, there is a certain beauty in the simplicity. I actually sort of miss shooing the chickens out of the way.
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