My mother possessed a unique characteristic throughout her life of 88 years.
We have heard the phrase “early to bed and early to rise.” For my mother that was more than a phrase, it was how she lived her life.
Her day would start not later than 5 a.m. when she would awake after a night’s rest.
My dad would sleep another hour or more, but for my mother 5 a.m. was the start of her day. She would use this time to prepare the food for the day she would serve to her family plus the hired man my dad had for many years.
It was also the time she would use to get ready for a Bible study at church or, as she had the love of teaching, she would prepare lessons in her later years teaching at a nearby school.
It was a mystery to me how anyone could arise that early and so full of energy when I would be groggy from lack of sleep at that hour.
Conversely, by the time 7 p.m. arrived she could hardly hold her head up. I watched her for many years nod off or take a short nap to make it to 9 p.m. so she could go to bed.
That made entertaining supper guests difficult and explained while the rest of us were watching Bonanza, Red Skelton, or Lawrence Welk on television, she would be napping in another part of the house trying to make it to her 9 o’clock bedtime.
One of my sisters has the same habit and to this day she is ready for bed at 8 p.m. and is up before 6a.m., even in retirement.
I thought this was a somewhat odd characteristic as I liked bedtime any time after 10 and many times closer to 11 at night. Getting up around 7 o’clock felt right and that was what I did most of my life.
That is, until recently.
In recent years bedtime has become 9 p.m.. After watching the 10 o’clock news for years, I couldn’t care less about anything that they have to tell me.
Sometimes I find myself impatiently waiting for 9:00 so I can get to bed.
Then, after about five hours of sleep I wake up. Sometimes I lie there listening to the radio next to me, using an earphone to keep things quiet, listening to anything of interest from news to talk radio.
Or I pick up my phone to check the obituaries, news, or anything else I am curious about.
Frequently I lie there in the dark and let my mind wander. It is a time I have come to value for its peace and lack of any interruptions as it is seems meditative in nature since my mind is refreshed and clear.
It is also when my creativity is at its best.
After a couple hours, I fall back asleep as if something has told me that the world is still a relatively safe place and I can resume my night’s rest.
So, something I was considered an odd habit of my mother’s has become a form of my mental health homework, a time when I can listen or ponder or imagine or plan.
It has taken me more than 60 years to realize once again, my mother knew what she was doing all along.
Maybe it will help me get to age 88, just like she did.
Now that I have written this, I can go back to bed.
Well, after I check the obituaries and maybe the weather forecast. I wonder what the topic on Coast to Coast AM is.
Maybe the truck drivers calling in to WLW in Cincinnati are interesting tonight.
Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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