This I Believe

Lisa - Tampa, Florida
Entered on May 23, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in gratitude for a hot shower.

When I was a girl, I was all too often subjected to long and torturous lectures pontificated by my father. Having grown up during the depression, his most common lecture themes focused on childhood hardships.

He’d begin these lectures in vivid and exaggerated detail and I’d brace myself for the duration. The most lasting lecture turns out to be the one where he describes his weekly boyhood bathing ritual: A small, galvanized tub is retrieved from the backyard and filled with water from the tap. His grandmother fills the kettle with water and places it on the stove until it boils. She places her grandson in the tub of cold water and he anxiously awaits the welcome rush of hot water carefully added to the basin. An audible… Ahhh… of soothing relief welcomes the hot water. Apparently, there were mere inches of water in which to indulge. I heard these details with both wonder and skepticism. The lecture ends, as the inches of hot water chill and yet another child retrieved for the weekly bath ritual. A weekly bath? I’d say incredulously, come on Dad!

As the legend goes, when the modern hot water heater appeared, a hot shower became my father’s most savored luxury. He’d passionately describe a seemingly endless stream of hot water hitting his face each morning. An indulgence so decadent that it was surely coupled with frequent pangs of guilt.

Naturally, as a young girl coming of age in the 1960’s I took hot showers for granted. My morning ritual in our one bathroom home was often abruptly interrupted by pounding on the bathroom door by my father reminding me to save some of the city’s water supply for my siblings and to spare him from going broke over outrageous electricity bills. I’d cringe knowing that what would soon follow was yet another lecture about my father’s boyhood galvanized tub! I’d beg him to spare me the lecture and assured him that I knew the value of gratitude for hot running water. This quick admission usually averted an unwanted lecture.

All of which leads to my daily ritual: I step into the shower, the instant hot water hits my face, I am filled with wonder and gratitude for the seemingly endless strong and steady flow of hot water. I am in that In that moment fully and my heart sings with delight. It ripples and I am reminded of other simple pleasures: The cup of coffee made by my husband, my beautiful garden, the easy smile on my son’s face when he makes me laugh. I am filled with appreciation for this luxurious way to begin my day. It gives me reason to pause and savor the profound wisdom of my father and his gift of teaching me to have gratitude for a hot shower. Ahhh!