I slept on a pallet of quilts on the floor with my 5-year-old grandson this past weekend. My husband and I carefully laid down 6 old quilts that had once belonged to our ancestors – tediously but lovingly sewn by our mothers and/or grandmothers. Perhaps, as they sewed, they even pictured their children and grandchildren spreading them out for a nap or snuggling under them on a cold winter’s evening. I was transported in my mind to summer vacations where houses overflowed with relatives and my cousins and I shared a pallet on the floor and giggled and whispered ourselves to sleep; or to slumber parties with pajama clad girlfriends sharing stories, dreams and laughter and trying mightily to stay awake before succumbing to the inevitable. That was what happened in my mind. What happened in my body was something else entirely. I think I slept a total of 2 hours – if that. Except for watching the sweet, sleeping face of my grandchild, it was not a pleasant experience. And so what my restless, aching bones brought to mind were a multitude of other things.
The first thing I considered were young soldiers dressed in combat fatigues, lying in fox holes looking up into the dark of the night sky, wishing they were anywhere else, wondering whether they would make it through to the next day, and yet dreading what might come with the morning light.
And I thought of cowboys – those herding cattle across the miles; those traveling into the unknown for the sake of adventure – but eventually settling down for the night on a bed of earth, hoping to rest weary bones before another day with more of the same: hard work and sweat and seemingly unending days.
And then I thought of the homeless who lay their bodies wherever they can find – in doorways, alleyways, under bridges, in cardboard boxes, a car (if they’re lucky). I suspect their emotions are myriad – fear, sadness, loneliness, longing, confusion. Do they even dare to hope?
With the morning light and creaking joints, I rose to make myself a cup of tea. As the steam floated upwards from my cup so did my song of gratitude.
My grandson awoke much later perfectly delighted in the array of quilts, blankets, and pillows that surrounded him. Clearly he had enjoyed this grand adventure and he looked forward to sleeping in that space again. Me? I plan to play the Age Card and will be gratefully sleeping on a mattress at the next sleepover.