The Tub

 

The house at the shore (I should call it mine because technically it is, but it doesn't feel that way) has two and a half bathrooms.  When my mother purchased it back in the fall of 1995, it had three.  One off the kitchen area, one in between the master bedroom and a second bedroom, and one off of the back den.  After Superstorm Sandy, I suggested that the kitchen bathroom be turned into a half bath and that the tiny shower in there (which no one ever used) become a pantry/closet.  I also suggested that the linen closet in the bathroom off the den be eliminated so that the shower area could be increased.  Both suggestions were taken and once everything was finished, the house was lovely again.  (Different than it was before the storm, but still lovely.)

As the years went by, the bathroom off the den became my dad's and the one in between the master bedroom and second bedroom was my mom's.  Mom's bathroom was the only one that had a bathtub.  My mom was a bath person, not a shower person.  Whenever my son would stay with my parents, my mother would have him climb into the tub after a day at marine science camp.  He'd be pretty sandy after a day at in the sand.  She'd plop him in there with a bunch of water toys (rubber duckies, plastic dolphins), let him play and talk to him about his day.  In hindsight (and without actually being there), this time must have been very special and connected the two of them in ways that I didn't realize.  

My son grew up and grew out of marine science camp.  When we went to visit in the summer, we'd use the outside shower to clean off.  My dad would use the outside shower in the summer and the inside one during the colder months.  My mom took baths.

As my parents got older, they had grab bars installed in the shower and bath.  My father was sometimes unsteady on his feet and we got a shower chair.  Then my dad decided to get a walk in tub installed.  There was just one problem (okay, maybe there was more than one), Covid had slowed everything down and it took months (I don't recall how many) before the tub could be delivered and installed.  The new tub also required a new hot water heater.  Furthermore, due to sizing issues, they had to purchase a tankless water heater, which also was backordered.  So (if I recall correctly) even though the tub was ordered in the spring, it wasn't installed until the fall and the tankless water heater wasn't put in until mid-November.

All of this is to say, that by the time it was installed and ready for use, my mother had already been hospitalized once, which was the beginning of her downslide, and my parents required assistance.  What started out as a helper who could come by for a couple of hours several evenings a week turned into finding a live in care giver.  As my mother's health declined, I don't think she used the tub more than a handful of times.

I know I used it twice.  Here's what they don't tell you in the commercials.  That it takes a LONG time (and a LOT of water) to fill.  That you have to sit there and wait for it to fill.  (You need to be inside the enclosure with the door locked/latched before you start adding the water.  I suppose if you are young and limber, you could stand on something and climb in AFTER the tub was partially filled, but the tub is marketed to older adults so...)  I did kind of enjoy it, but I have to admit it was a lot of waiting and effort.

And after all this waiting my mother really didn't get to use and definitely didn't get to enjoy the tub.  

Now when I go to the shore house and go into that bathroom, I see all of the caregiver's belongings there.  The shampoos, conditioners, bath gels, etc. are on the ledge.  It is her tub.  I don't begrudge her using it, but it pains me.  I think of all the time and money that went into this and for what.

What is the lesson here?  Is there a lesson here?  I don't know.  I do know that I wouldn't exactly endorse the walk in bathtub, but that's not a lesson.  I do hope that someday, a day in the far future, that I will have the opportunity to fill up that tub and soak with a glass of wine, some good music and a good book.  It won't make it worth it, but it will be my “tribute” to my mom.


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