Blog 2098 – 06.23.2021
“Sleep That Knits The Raveled Sleeve Of Care”
One of the greatest joys of life is a good nights sleep. Another great expression regarding sleep is the saying that he or she “Slept like a baby.”
Even new babies, who wake up hungry and malcontent every few hours throughout the night, remind young parents and old how precious is sleep even in short interrupted doses.
My mother, especially during the last three years of her life after her lifelong companion left her, my dad, had trouble sleeping. After dad died she focused more on her own problems. Dad had served to insulate her from too much introspection. It seemed mom was long practiced in blaming most of her discontent on dad, I often wonder how he was able to bear her constant berating, debating, and parading of his faults, and like everyone daddy had a few, but to hear mom tell it his were far too many and mostly unforgivable. It was not true, but like most boys I loved my mama best and thought she could do, think, or say no wrong. I learned as most sons eventually do that moms like dads are not perfect either.
On the morning of the day my daddy died, my lovely and loving wife, seven year old son, at the time, and I had just completed, the afternoon before, a long drive from Houston to Chattanooga to be with my parents whom we had not seen for over two years. While Linda and Jonathan were still sleeping and dad was out out back working in his shop, mom and I sat at the breakfast table catching up. She told me that dad had been down in his back the year before and could not get out of bed even to use the restroom and had had to use a bed pan. And in her own words she said, “ I just don’t think I could take care of him if he got sick.” Well, she did not have too, as dad passed suddenly that very evening and so quietly that we did not hear when it happened though his bedroom was only a few feet from the dining room where the four of us were playing Monopoly. Dad had said he was not feeling well and so he was retiring early. He had always been such a great game player that I was surprised that he did not play with us. Mom had said that since his stroke several years earlier dad had changed quite a lot and that in the last year or so he had given up playing cards and table games because he was no longer as sharp at them as he had once been.
Mom took dad’s death quite hard. They had been married over forty-seven years and as I said dad had been her constant if imperfect companion through thick and thin. I wonder if remembering that remark about not thinking she could bear taking care of him in sickness haunted my mother and with so many other thoughts that she could not seem to find a way to turn off robbed her of her sleep.
That is as I understand it what prevents many people from getting a good nights sleep – difficulty turning off there hearts and minds or at least quieting them for a few hours each night. My mom, as long as I knew her, was a worrier and definitely a “somebody stole cup” not even a cup half empty person. Dad on the other hand was more of a “cup flowing over” person, a trait I inherited from him along with many of his faults as well, I am sure. However, not being able to enjoy a good nights rest was not among them.
Dad and I both were in the military, WW Two was his war and Vietnam was mine. We were taught as General Colin Powell said of soldiers, “A good soldier never runs when he (or she) can walk, stands when he can sit, or sits when he can lie down.” We were taught to make use of every opportunity to catch a few winks, a few z’s, any time we could. I remember often using a steel pot helmet for a pillow and getting a quick nap whenever we would stop for a short break marching here or there during Basic Training at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. I am sure dad learned good sleeping skills in the Navy years earlier as well.
Mom always complained about dad’s loud snoring when he slept, among a myriad of things that my daddy did that annoyed her, but I think she missed him, faults and all, terribly. Though they had for sometime slept in separate beds with a den and two closed doors between them at night, the light roar from another room must have helped lull mom to sleep at night, if only by providing something else for her to focus on besides her mostly imagined worries.
People use to put Rest In Peace on grave stones, but why should we wait till the grave to get some rest? Enjoy a good night sleep tonight. Teach yourself like babies teach themselves to quiet those constant complaints, turn off that thinker, and “”chill ax.”
Sweet dreams, Baby.
Your friend and fellow traveler,
In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning