I have not spoken about this online before now, as I just didn't know what to say. On December 7, my mom went in for elective heart surgery to replace her aortic valve. Things have not gone well, and she is still in the hospital, with a long road ahead. So, if you are a praying type of person, please keep her in yours. Good thoughts and well-wishes are also much appreciated.
That leads me to my story. As I was making my way about my house this morning, doing what moms do -- laundry, dishes, tidying up -- I went into my daughter Bridget's room. She has been gone for several days, having a lovely visit with friends out on the East Coast. I began to make her bed, so it would look all nice and inviting for her when she returns. Her bedspread is of an old-fashioned variety, like the kind my mother has always had on her own bed. It is a white cotton, with raised patterns of flowers and a decorative fringe around the edges. Bridget told me a couple of years ago that she had wanted a bedspread like this since she was a little girl -- one like her grandma's. So, I got it for her as a Christmas gift that year.
And as I smoothed this bedspread out over my girlie's bed this morning, with the warm sun shining in through the big windows, I thought about my mom and the rituals she created around the making of beds when I was growing up. Our bedding always consisted of the following: white linens (fitted sheet, flat sheet, pillowcase) -- never any other color; one blanket during the summertime and two in the winter -- always the type of blanket with the satin edging; and a formal bedspread -- never a throw or comforter. When we were small, my mother made all the beds every day. EVERY DAY. And when we were bigger, we were required to make our beds every day, in the way that she carefully taught us. The fitted sheet was to be smoothed out and the flat sheet was tucked in with tidy square corners at the bottom of the mattress. The top of the flat sheet was folded down over the top of the blanket(s). The blanket(s) and flat sheet were tucked under the mattress all along the sides and bottom. The bedspread was then laid over everything and folded down at the top. The pillow was then plumped -- not a step to be skipped -- and laid at the top of the bed. Lastly, the part of the bedspread that had been folded down was pulled over the top of the pillow and tucked in behind it. Thus, all you could see was the pretty bedspread from the top of the bed to its foot.
Now, this bedmaking technique was required on Sundays -- no exceptions. During the week and especially on Saturdays, though, a slight variation might be allowed. This variation consisted in doing everything exactly as stated above, but the bedspread could be folded in thirds, neatly and precisely, at the foot of the bed. My mother considered this the "less formal look," hence the "never on Sundays" rule.
Each evening, also, had its ritual concerning the bedding. Between 5:00 and 5:45, as my mom was preparing the dinner, one of us kids was assigned the task of "pulling down" the beds. If the bedspread was covering the entire bed, it was pulled down and folded in thirds (as described in the above paragraph). The blanket(s) and flat sheet might also be folded back -- neatly, always neatly. And the pillow was again plumped. Thus, all was arranged for a tired little (or big) person to go to sleep at the end of the day.
It is probably apparent to you that my mother has always been quite the homemaker. And one of the things that makes me especially sad about her hospitalization is the fact that I know she is missing being at her house and doing all of the things she enjoyed doing there each day. My mom has never considered any of these things to be onerous duties. She has thoroughly enjoyed her role of making the home a clean, lovely place to be. And, even though I have not emulated her entirely, her example has been of enormous value to me in creating my own home for my own family. And the remembrance of my mom's ways has always given me a happy heart. Nobody's growing up is a perfect thing -- and sometimes my mom's "extreme homemaking" could be irritating. But, it was also heartwarming -- and a valuable skill not easy to learn or emulate.