I was just now making my mother’s bed and thinking, “This is a trip down Memory Lane.” The bed itself has no associations for me, but the headboard originally belonged to my Auntie Mary, and there’s a slab of foam on top of the mattress that Mom and Dad bought years ago to go atop the bed settee to make it more comfortable for visitors.
We were visiting my parents at the time and had a BMW with a sunroof, which was bigger and roomier than my father’s car, and we had to go to the next town to fetch the foam slab. There were the 4 of us in the car, and the only way to fit in the rolled up foam was by poking it through the sunroof like a giant chimney as we drove back through town. We were all very tightly squashed, and the driver was not a happy bunny but we made it!
The foam slab was an excellent idea but there was nowhere to store it when the settee wasn’t being used as a bed. However, it was the same size as my parents’ bed, so that was the most obvious place to keep it. It makes the bed quite high for my mother now, since she has shrunk considerably in height over the last few years, and she now needs a little step to climb up.
Then comes a fitted sheet – I remember persuading her to buy a fitted sheet for convenience when they first became popular but it’s the only one she has – she prefers changing sheets the old-fashioned way, with top going to bottom, so you have only one sheet to wash at a time, and you can’t do that with fitted sheets.
Her blanket is one of a pair, a wedding present from her mother-in-law, my Granny, back in 1936, kept for years “for best” and eventually brought out last year when the old one was really no longer usable. It’s like new, very good quality.
On top of that is a gold-coloured Jacquard counterpane, thin and worn but still in one piece, which was also my Granny’s, and no longer new when Mom acquired it, so it must be over 100 years old now. It has washed and worn well, and it would be hard to find anything of such quality nowadays. This is covered by a fitted cotton bedspread Mom made herself to match the curtains and wallpaper (remember that fashion?) and on top of that is a gold quilted nylon bedspread with a frill round the sides and bottom, a golden wedding present from friends in 1986.
The top layer is the creamy-coloured quilted satin bedspread she bought two years ago, thinking at the time it was a waste, as she wouldn’t live long enough for it to wear out, but on the other hand if ever she was ill in bed and visitors came, it would look nice!
And finally, there’s the decorative sham pillow, a Swiss one I brought for Dad when he was having difficulty breathing unless he was propped up, and he liked the big square ones we have in Switzerland. This is now inside the decorative pillowcase my daughter gave her this last Christmas – so that brings us right up to date – topped by a little square silk sachet containing lavender and embroidered with a spray of lily of the valley, also a present from my daughter several years ago.
(Now hear the violins playing …)
There is a reason why she has so many layers on her bed. The obvious practical one is warmth: she likes to sleep in a warm bed but in a cool room. And this is a small house, with not a lot of storage; so putting things on the bed saves cupboard space. My mother grew up in hard times where you had to make do and mend and her motto is “waste not want not”, so nothing gets thrown away. The family DNA also seems to include a hoarder gene anyway, so as new items are acquired to replace scruffy old ones, the scruffy old ones are usually kept on until they are actually disintegrating (in which case they will go to be recycled).
Just don’t ask about the telephones accumulating in the top of the wardrobe …