For the better part of seventy-eight years, I’ve gone beddy-bye every night—but I’ve been alone for only the first twenty-three of those. In those early years, I slept atop an inexpensive mattress, twin-bed size, identical to the one occupied by my brother.
On my wedding night, no longer alone, I slipped under the covers on a similarly-inexpensive mattress, double-size now, which sat on a metal spring supported by three wood slats running between the sideboards of the antique bedframe we had inherited from my grandparents. Those slats had the nasty habit of slipping off the lip they rested on whenever my wife and I were, shall we say, not exactly resting quietly. Matrimonial merriment became a challenge, to see how frisky we might get without wrecking the bed.
Every night since that honeymoon eve—with a few exceptions due to travel, illness, or similar unusual circumstances—I have gone beddy-bye with the woman I married.
By the time we welcomed our first daughter some five years on, we had bought a more expensive box spring/mattress combo, double-size, but still resting on those same slats—reinforced now by two additional slats, all five screwed into the sideboards. No longer did we fear capsizing while…..well, you know, canoodling.
Our second daughter arrived twenty months after her sister, and it seemed no time at all before we began waking to find four of us in our double bed. With those two wee urchins snuggling between us, I remember being pushed so close to the edge of the bed that I would almost fall out. It was about then that my wife and I, for decorum’s sake, began to wear pyjamas…..and to consider buying a larger mattress.
We graduated, eventually, to a queen-size bed, the mattress set on its own free-standing base. The old double-size bedframe was stored away, except for the headboard, which we continued to use, propped at the head of the bed to match the rest of my grandparents’ suite. Even with the girls growing bigger by the day, the space was more than adequate, as if we were sleeping in the wide-open spaces.
During all this time, I slept on the right side of the bed, to the left of my wife. The only reason for this, as I can recall now, is that in all the homes we lived in, the bathroom was closer to her side.
Not long after the girls had left our happy little family to start their own, we began to suffer hitherto-unknown aches and stiffness in the morning. Thus began a period of frequent mattress-turns and flips, seeking to stop the sag. Eventually, after some consideration of the alternatives (and the cost), we opted to purchase a king-size, memory-foam mattress. We found ourselves at that point, just the two of us, sleeping on a bed that would easily have accommodated our little family of four.
For the most part, at least in the beginning, we gravitated to the middle, close enough to reach each other, and to feel each other’s warmth. And there were no sags—not in the mattress, anyway.
But lo and behold, into this blissful beddy-bye there came an insidious intrusion that negated the benefits of the mattress—to wit, snoring. Increasingly, in the wee, small hours, one of us would waken to the other’s snorts and gurgles, toss and roll fitfully for what seemed like hours, unable to recapture sleep, and finally retreat to the recliner-chair in the den. It was intolerable.
The cure arrived when we went, first I and then my wife, to be tested for sleep apnea—a condition where one stops breathing, sometimes for a minute or longer, thereby placing great pressure on the heart and other vital organs. And when breathing resumes, it’s often with loud gasps and splutters—AKA snoring. Alas, both of us were diagnosed with apnea, which led to our acquiring CPAP machines (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) to combat it.
We feel now as if we’re sleeping with Darth Vader, each of us with a mask over our mouth and nose, flexible hoses running to the machines on our bedside tables. And we’ve moved away from the middle of the bed so the hoses won’t be stretched beyond their six-foot length. To anyone unfamiliar with CPAP machines, this must sound like a horror show.
Thankfully, however, the machines work! After a short period of adjustment, they have put an effective stop to our snoring, allowed us to sleep more deeply, and longer, and to waken more refreshed.
So now—more than fifty years after I moved from my single-size twin bed to that double-size marital mattress, still sharing my bed with the love of my life, close enough on our current king-size mattress to reach out and touch—I find myself looking forward every night to going beddy-bye.
I am blessed.