Saturday, April 13, 2024


My sister Josie arrived this evening! 

I set up an air mattress for her in the basement. And also set up a couch cushion bed for her in case the whole air mattress thing didn't work out. And told her that a third option was a futon in the girls' room, which I didn't set up because Rachel had already gone to bed. 

Miriam was going to take the futon and let Josie have her bed, but then she broke her arm and didn't want to give up her comfy bed because sleeping has been hard enough as it is. 

But the futon is a third option. And if none of those options really sound good then we can kick Alexander out of his bed and steal his mattress to put on the floor downstairs.

So many comfy options!

"I'll be fine," she insisted. "My years in Young Ambassadors really taught me that I can sleep anywhere."

She loved her touring days, but they were grueling and the accommodations could sometimes be...less than accommodating. 

"Really, I'm the opposite of some people," she said, as I was telling her that she's free to scavenge anything else that looks comfortable from anywhere in the house to supplement her bed. "I will just sleep with whatever I'm given and won't complain."

"Oh, I'm the same way!" I told her. "I would probably rather die than tell someone that I'm uncomfortable."

Is this a good way to be? I don't know. But it's the way we are. 

So I told my sister a little memory I had of staying over at my grandma's house. I...don't remember why I was there. I know that I was there for multiple nights for some reason (was it the time we stayed at her how for swimming lessons? Or the time I was dropped off there before going to spend a week at the farm? Or some other reasons). I can't remember. But I know that I was sleeping in the little basement room at the end of the hallway, with the bunkbeds and the crib. Specifically, I was asked to sleep on the bottom bunk, which was fine by me...until it was bedtime. 

Man! That bed was uncomfortable. It was hard as a rock. 

I had a long and uncomfortable night. 

In the morning when Grandma asked me how my night was, I screwed up all my courage and told her that I found the bed to be a little uncomfortable.

Now, my grandma was the sweetest woman on the face of the planet. She was kind and soft-spoken and always, always, always well-meaning. She laughed easily, but she gasped even easier. She kept a sort of innocence with her for her whole life, easily scandalized by loud laughter and my grandpa's dare-devilry. She was perpetually timid and had post-it notes on her bathroom mirror that said things like, "Feel the fear and do it anyway!"

I'm not sure what she was afraid of because as far as I could see (at the time), all she did was birdwatch, tend strawberries, and read the scriptures, none of which felt particularly terrifying. 

Despite her quiet demeanor, however, Grandma was also incredibly tough. 

She was the second youngest of 12 children. She grew up on a farm in the Dust Bowl during the Great Depression. Her younger sister had special needs and Grandma helped care for her and their father after her mother died (when my grandma was 16). She worked hard as a farmer's wife. And then she took care of my grandfather for nearly two decades after he had a stroke. 

The idea of something being uncomfortable didn't sit well with her.

So she told me a story about the time she had been sent to help her sister with a new baby and how she had had to sleep on the kitchen floor by the stove—not so unlike Cinderella—because her sister didn't have any bed for her at all! And wasn't I lucky to have such a lovely room and cozy bed to sleep in? She knew the bed wasn't awful because she'd made it up herself! I was being a little too picky. 

And I could be fussy about things! I spent about half the week (or two?) we spent at Grandma's house for swimming lessons crying. The water was too cold, I missed my mom, my brother was always brave and made friends while I was quiet and lonely, and my bed was hard

I was full of complaints! 

Some complaints were legitimate. The water was too cold (swimming in an outdoor Alberta...rarely comfy) and my bed was hard! 

Other things I could have changed my behaviour to bring about better consequences. For example, I could have stopped crying and started talking to people so I could make some friends. But, you know...that's not really how I roll. 

And while complaining about the temperature of the pool is one thing, complaining about someone's hosting skills was another!

Anyway, my mom finally came to pick us up and when my Grandma called next she was all full of apologies (because she's ultimately a kind (perhaps overkind) person who was scandalized at her poor hosting). You see, for whatever reason, my grandma removed the mattress from the bottom bunk. 

In my mind, I think perhaps she had cleaned it for some reason. Or maybe she just needed it for something else for a while. It wasn't even a real mattress, per se, just a thick piece of foam (several inches thick—perhaps five—so not uncomfortable as a mattress, but also not a real mattress). Whatever the case, it was propped up against the wall in Grandpa's workshop (a little room in the basement full of Grandpa's workbench and tools and an antique telephone; I could never understand its existence because I don't recall Grandpa ever being capable of doing any work down there...let alone even being down there except for (1) this one time my dad and uncle helped him downstairs so we could play raucous card games like PIT! and (2) perhaps the time he fell down the stairs while my grandma was helping him walk down the hall—and then he pointed up at her and slurred out, "She pushed me!" because he was a jokester, even if his body didn't work the way he wanted it to, and she got all flustered and started crying, "Oh, Arnold!"—but even then I think he ended up on the landing only). 

At any rate, that mattress was not on the bed. But my grandma had put a sheet over the plywood panel on the bottom bunk so the room wouldn't look "undone" while the mattress finished...drying...or whatever was happening with it, wherever it was. 

I spent the week (maybe even two weeks?!)* sleeping on a plywood board!

* I'm actually not sure how long because I can't remember precisely why we were at Grandma's house when this happened!

1 comment:

  1. Did I understand this correctly? The mattress was literally missing, but my mom thought it was there because she put the bedding directly onto the plywood?