GETTING UP IN THE MORNING
When I was about eight years old, I sometimes got to stay all night at Grandma and Grandpa Jenkins’s house. It was a small house—only four rooms—but it felt cozy.
I was old enough to sleep in the spare room by myself. Apparently insomnia hadn’t reared its ugly head in that phase of my life, so I would sleep until the morning sounds and smells gentled me awake.
Grandpa gets up first. I hear him in the kitchen, lifting the stove lids to check the bed of coals left from the night before, then opening the fire door (it squeaks), pulling chunks of stove wood from the buckets in the space behind the stove and filling the fire box. Then I hear the rasp of a kitchen match against its sandpapery striking strip. After a short wait—fire snapping and popping—the stove lids are dragged across the stove top and clunked into place.
Those early morning sounds reassured me. Grandma and Grandpa’s house was a safe place to sleep and to wake up.
Later, after Grandma gets up, I smell bacon frying in one of the big iron skillets. When I get up and mosey out to the kitchen, Grandma will crack eggs in the bacon drippings and our breakfast will be nearly ready.
The eggs were fresh from Grandma’s hens, down in the barn. There weren’t many hens now. With her family grown and gone and only occasional company, Grandma didn’t need to cook big meals.
Grandpa has been out to check on something—maybe the chickens—and he now comes back inside. The big blue granite coffee pot has come to a boil. Grandma pours out two cups (I’m still too young to imbibe) and sets the table.
Coffee made in my modern drip pot doesn’t have the same nose-tickling aroma as the elixir from Grandma's blue granite pot. But I’ve been a dedicated coffee drinker since about age 14, like my mother and her parents, and all the aunts and uncles and cousins.
Throughout my life there has been something—or someone—that gave me the extra push to get out of bed. In winter, the floor might be cold, the room chilly, the sun not yet up, but there was always some reason to give up the warmth of my comfortable bed. When the children were home, I had the morning ritual of getting them ready for school and getting myself ready for the office. Since I retired, I had a few years of dog duty with Joy—she was an especially good alarm clock, never barked at me, but managed to convey her wish to go out NOW.
Life never stands still. Have you noticed that, too? Things have shifted for me. With no one else in the house--person, dog, or cat--I wake up to the possibility of an event that I want to attend: walking at the Y first thing with my walking buddy (we keep each other accountable), before all the people get there; yoga or tai chi class; coffee or lunch with a friend; sewing or knitting with another woman who enjoys that activity as much as I do.
Something different—unusual—or rarely occurring—gives me a sense of the day being an adventure. Big adventure, little adventure--all are welcome.
Often I greet the day knowing I’ll have a treat. Coffee and chocolate, both limited on my diet, are always a treat. Or a new book to read, a new movie or episode on Netflix. A shopping trip (even though I may not buy anything). [Aside: I once went to Barnes & Noble and bought nothing. Not even a newspaper. I know you don't believe me, but it's quite true. Sad, but true.]
Other times I wake with an overwhelming sense of joy. I’m rested, and warm; I have a sense of well-being—no problem in view; or maybe I wake with a sense that a problem has been resolved, a prayer answered. Something, somewhere, fell into place and the world can breathe easily again.
No one starts the bacon or the coffee at my house. There are no little home-y sounds that tell me all is well and Grandpa—or somebody—is taking care of things. Life has moved on, and I’m the one taking care of things. Getting myself up in the morning.
But the memories live on in me. And I smile.