November 7, 2021
Originally Posted November 9, 2009 - Reposted Here With Minor Changes
We didn't get much sleep, but we had a lot of fun on Grandma's feather bed . . .”
From “Grandma’s Feather Bed” by John Denver
I’ve never claimed to be much of a country boy. While I love the smell of hay and farm animal “extract” that comes along with the whole farm scene, the wisdom and logic that one gets from being raised on a farm is not one of the many blessings I received.
Case in point: As a child, one of my family’s annual events was visiting our extended family in East Tennessee. When I was about six or seven years old, my family and I were on one those visits. At one stage of our trip, we were at Mammaw and Pappaw Patterson’s small but idyllic farm in Madisonville, Tennessee.
(To translate that for you fellow urbanites, “Mammaw” and “Pappaw” are southern terms for “Grandma” and “Grandpa”. It’s a country thing. You wouldn’t understand. Back to the farm.)
While climbing around the hay bales in the loft of my grandparents’ rustic barn, I came across some eggs that one of their hens had recently laid. I immediately knew that I had to get these eggs to grandmother – (I mean, “Mammaw”), so I picked up one in each hand and realize something about being in the loft of the barn:
No escalator, my hands are full, and I’ve got to get to the “first floor” of this barn. No problem! I stuck an egg in each of my front pockets and proceeded to climb down the ladder. It only took one bend of each leg while mounting the ladder to discover why God made egg cartons.
I hear you snickering. And, yes, the “yolk” was definitely on me and left me “shell-shocked” and “pecked on” for the rest of the day.
Moving right along . . .
Regardless of which set of grandparents I stayed, bedtime had its own special excitement. Since air mattresses weren’t invented yet, and the adults got the guest beds, grandkids had the privilege of sleeping on the floor on a feather bed.
Lesson number two for you fellow city slickers: A feather bed consists of a large, pillow-like mattress stuffed with goose feathers. Yes, goose feathers, and, for a kid, there couldn’t be a better place to sleep. If you’re still having a hard time imagining what a feather bed looks like, think “futon” and then imagine it stuffed full of feathers.
As a kid, nestling into those feather beds made me feel like royalty. I would lay there and think back on the fun events of the day (even if they included unfortunate run-ins with eggs), listen to the sounds of rural Tennessee outside my window and try to figure out what was making those noises.
Sometimes, some of my cousins would be visiting, too, and we’d share a feather bed. We shared stories and dreams of what we were going to be when we grew up, share secrets and swear that we would never tell them. Eventually, we would drift off to sleep and wake up the next morning to the sounds and aromas of a country breakfast cooking in the kitchen. Life just didn’t get any better than that!
No, I don’t live in the past and I know that none of us can ever go back in time. And even though I still miss both sets of grandparents so much that it hurts, I wouldn’t want them to leave their much-deserved eternal rest just to be with me. But what I would give to once again climb around in the hay loft of the barn that has long since been torn down. I’d even stick an egg in each pocket to see if I can make it down the ladder without breaking them this time! If I could once again wander the woods of their farms, eat their home cooking, or plop down with exhaustion into one of their feather beds, the thrill of experiencing those things just one more time would be heavenly.
I’m certain that you, too, have fond memories of your youth that take you back to more carefree days. And while we can’t go back to those specific happy times, we can approach each day with the same sense of awe and adventure as we did in our childhood. We can take in the aroma of each day and not be afraid to stick eggs in our pockets now and then. And when the day is done, we can collapse into our beds, share our thoughts and dreams with our loved one and swear to never tell.
I wonder if they make a Sleep Number® feather bed?