I was having trouble thinking of a blog subject this morning…you know a sort of writer’s block or, more appropriately, a blogger’s block, trying to think of something interesting, funny, engaging, and appropriate. My eyes focused on an old photo of my grandmother, born in 1896, and to her grave in 1991. She lived with us the last six years of her life and I learned a lot from her. I have many funny stories about her, including the day she decided she wanted to be seventeen-year-old Elizabeth’s roommate, and she moved all her stuff into Elizabeth’s room to the surprise of Elizabeth when she came home from school. Elizabeth, shall we say, wasn’t exactly thrilled.
Grandma and I, though, were good friends. She inspired me in many areas of my life, so I thought that she maybe could kick some juju and get me going, so we had a little conversation. It was a rather one-sided conversation, but she started me thinking again.
“So, Grandma, tell me about your life. What was it like in 1896?” I asked her. She usually drank coffee while we talked, so I made myself a cup and drank it, just to get us started.
“It was different. No cars, no airplanes, no television. Thomas Edison was in his 40s, so a lot of things were not invented yet.”
“Like what, besides electricity?” I ventured, hoping she would expand a bit more.
She didn’t pause, “Well, like your washer and dryer, for example, they were not even dreamed of. I used a washtub and clothesline.” She went on to list ten or twelve other unthought of inventions that I take for granted, coffee pot, garage door opener, some vaccines, including the polio vaccine and a whole host of others. I’m sure she could have listed even more, but I wanted to get to the crux of my questions.
“So, Grandma, of all the inventions you have seen, what was the most important thing invented? Microwave (my personal favorite)? Computer? Airplane?”
She thought for a long time, and I thought our one-sided conversation was over, but she once again got inside my brain, “There was only one important invention in my life. I mean really important, but you take it for granted.”
“Okay, I give up if it’s not the microwave, what is it? Dishwasher?” I asked, politely, hoping she would provide me with some jewel to write about.
“Two words…Running water.”
She shut me down with those two words, but she is right. Lots of things have changed since she was born and since I was born, but even today, running water should remain at the top of the most important invention list. Think about it, in this pandemic, how would we wash our hands eighteen times a day without it?
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