In the early morning hours when I am wakened by the presence of the ghosts of past occupations and the gremlins of present pursuits I often contemplate how things would have been otherwise—if I had never been a farm girl, a nanny, a part-time roofer, a baker, a professional house cleaner, a writer and a wife. Perhaps I would not now be host to such a diverse group of uninvited bedfellows.
There is the one spiteful sprite who usually makes his nightly resting place on my right shoulder, quite close to my neck. He digs his toes into the sensitive nerves there, whenever the covers are not right up around my chin. Apparently he doesn’t feel much like settling in if it is nice and warm and cozy there, just when this preferred resting place is chilly. He must be a first cousin to Jack Frost—he always leaves a painful reminder of his nightly abode the following morning. (A mean sugar plum fairy no doubt!) The burning and tingling of a pinched nerve lasts well into the day, in the exact spot where I once used to cradle the phone while writing down orders at the busy bakery my daughter Carrie and I once owned.
These knees that once were overtaxed with the strain of standing on roofs with my toes at a downward incline hour after hour, on long ago summer Saturdays while placing shingles ahead of my husband Rolly’s swinging hammer, are now haunted by “Snap”, “Crackle”, and “Pop”. At least that’s the chorus I hear when I attempt to bend my knees into a more comfortable position during the night. Little does it matter that the roofing work I shared with Rolly was done part time for several successive summers in barter for holidays at the roof owners’ kid friendly cottages, or for a used piano for lessons or other worthy goals. Pain doesn’t really care who his next victim is at 3:00 in the morning, or how much she loved her kids to overcome her fear of stepping off ladders for them.
That bumpy place on my index finger is at the exact point where a pencil rested for so many years and built up its own calloused cushion of protection. It is so immune to pressure that I could probably write with a pencil lead jammed into the end of a baby cactus resting there if I really had to. But now that I frequently type rather than write— sometimes for several hours at a time while working on a memoir of my family’s early farm years, I wake with the approach of every impending storm. My advanced digital age has its own set of problems akin to that of the World Wide Web —frequent glitches.
These glitches are in my finger joints and they have obviously migrated in from somewhere too. Maybe it’s from the on-screen weather forecasts I occasionally turn to for updates as to what’s happening outside. That way I can avoid leaving the keyboard when I’m on a roll. Perhaps I deserve these phantom prognosticators painfully jarring me awake at night whenever a storm approaches if I can’t even bother to go outside and look around for myself at the real thing when a storm is approaching in the day time!
And what of the lingering effects of carrying all those beautiful babies around on my right hip for more than a decade when our family operated a home day care for neighbourhood families? A few of those kids were really big for their age— a couple of them even went on to be tall, massively built football players. They certainly left a lasting impression on me— that’s for sure! I have plenty of time to think of them all now— whenever I lay awake in the early hours of the morning.
The last visitors of the night are usually a whole slew who leave me with what I’ll call “the Revenge of the Dust Bunnies.” These are the haunting after-effects of pushing vacuums around heavy carpets to trap them, dusting their favourite haunts both high and low, and sweeping them out from under beds and between banisters. Their revenge is a multitude of little unexpected twinges from long forgotten injuries— broken toes, banged knees, and fingers pinched by falling windows—twinges of such a minor nature that they would never be noticed, except for the lack of any other distraction than the snoring of a spouse.
Now if the one bedfellow I am happy to be sharing my sleeping arrangements with would just roll over and free up the space I want to occupy so that I can roll over onto my left hip instead, I’d be truly a happy camper…
… Hmmm. Maybe we’re not such a good match after all, now that I seem to have developed such left leaning tendencies…
…Go back to sleep Yvonne.