When Mom was a child, their family went on a picnic by a river near their home. Grandpa K , Mom, and her sisters went splashing in the river while Grandma sat in the shade, mending some clothes. (Mom always laughed at that memory; Grandma always doing something constructive, even while relaxing on a family outing.)
Grandpa thought he’d play a trick on the girls. He dove under the water and swam downstream. His daughters, not seeing him come up after he went under, thought he had drowned and began screaming and crying, hysterical at the thought of losing their Dad. When he surfaced farther downstream from them, laughing, the girls’ screaming and crying became even louder, and Grandma chastised him for scaring them. Ever since then, Mom has had a water phobia.
Fast forward to about 25 years ago. Mom and Dad were visiting out at the ranch. It was a hot summer day, and we didn’t have air conditioning, and Mom was really uncomfortable inside the house, and outside was even hotter. I set up the sprinkler on the south lawn, and suggested we run through it…like kids.
Oh, no, she couldn’t do that! She had NEVER run through the sprinkler. Mom has a deep-seated fear of getting her head wet; she nearly panics when she washes her hair, and never gone swimming since Grandpa’s innocent prank at the family picnic.
I told her, aw, c’mon, you don’t have to get your head wet, just your legs, that’ll cool you off. I was wearing shorts and a tank top, mom was in a dress and apron. I ran through first, then urged her on. At first she just stuck her toes into the water, then walked around the sprinkler, then straight through the water, getting her legs and the hem of her dress wet. She started squealing, then lifted her dress up above her knees and danced around in the water, laughing, until she was drenched, from head to toe. It was hilarious!
I wish I could have had a picture of it. We sat out on towel covered lawn chairs in the sun to dry off, Mom all the time saying how refreshing it was and was she ever glad Dad wasn’t there to see her. (The men were out checking windmills a mile or so away). It made me happy to see her “let her hair down”, dancing like a kid, not even worrying about her head getting wet.
Mom still hates to have her head wet, still panics when she goes to a beautician for her monthly shampoo-cut-and style. But for a few moments, she had lost her inhibitions and forgot her fears as the cold water from the sprinkler sprayed over her and cooled her. It was a day I will never forget.