We take our grand-daughter Daisy to the park
for an afternoon of fun. When they turn on
the water-spray play equipment, five-year-old
Daisy can’t wait to get her bathing suit on.
I pull the tiny ruffled pink-turquoise-and
Spandex-sparkly garment from Daisy’s
backpack. She looks up at me. “I need to
go to the restroom to change,” she says.
This is new; she wants privacy, she’s not
such a little girl anymore. Grammy and Papa
have the same thought at the same time:
We can make you an instant changing room
by holding up your beach towel. And we do,
with Daisy wriggling out of her clothes and
into her bathing suit with much giggling
at the fun of being confined inside the small
round column formed by her circled swimming
towel. Okay! And Daisy runs off to spend the
next three hours cavorting in the spray,
mucking with water in sand and on the gravel
path where she spells out words with a stick.
A little while later Grammy has to make a
trip to the restroom herself. As I approach I see
an elderly woman so bent over the front of her
long cotton skirt nearly touches the ground,
her elbow being held by a younger woman
as the older one shuffles forward one laborious
shuffle at a time. I wonder how long ahead of
“having to go” she has had to leave the picnic
table so she will reach the restroom in time.
I go into a stall but can still hear the younger
woman helping the older woman in the door.
Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle, she finally makes it to
the stall next to mine. The door opens and shuts.
A pause. “Where is the flush handle?”
the older woman asks in a quavery voice.“
“See it on the wall above the toilet?”
Shuffle, turn, “Oh, yes, yes, I see.”
Now the stall’s metal door latch clicks back
back and forth all herky-jerky several times.
“Are you having trouble with the lock?”
“I can’t make it work.”
“Would you like me to hold the door shut for you?
And the quavering voice answers, “Yes.”
I am on the other side of the steel partition
marveling at our need for privacy and bodily
respect, how it starts sometime in the growing-
conscious years of childhood and goes on…
how long? To the end? I know which end of
that continuum I’m inevitably approaching.
I wonder: Who will be there
to hold the door for me?