Mychal Wilmes: New life for a bed creates new option for room
The morning breaks beneath thin gray skies that soon yield to November blue. Tire tracks into the pasture indicate that the hunter who asked to put up a deer stand in the brush and hardwood mix is prepared for the season.
The oaks refuse to let their leaves be scattered by the wind. The killing frost reveals unpicked cucumbers among the twisted vines and unpicked green tomatoes. Elliot finds a red one in the mess, holds it up for the world to see and races into the house to show grandma. The last garden tomato is as special as the season's first.
Elliot's other grandparents have come to eat and to dismantle what had been Sarah's bed. Elliot's bed has grown too small, and Sarah's would be a fine substitute. His new bed is as old as I am — a gift to Sarah from her grandparents. I had intended to take it apart myself before they arrived, but my ambition was thwarted when Kathy ordered me and the hammer to leave the room.
"Get out of there because you'll break it,'' she said.
When she's right, she's right. I wish for only adequacy when it involves home work and have not received it. While the others dissemble the bed, I'm off doing more important things. Elliot has a fly swatter, and I have a plastic ball. I pitch it, and he hits it hard against the television, and his hard throw strikes me in the face.
"You've got a shortstop-strong arm,'' I said, imagining a distant day when his grandpa watches him play.
We celebrate our success with high-fives. He is, at the moment, Kirby Puckett who saved the 1991 World Series with a home run.
Elliot is more fortunate than many others because now he has his own bed and never goes to sleep hungry. The government says more than a million children suffer from food insecurity. It doesn't seem right that in this land of outrageous plenty that food shelves are overtaxed while much food is wasted all along the supply chain from field to fork.
I never had my own bed.
Sleeping with an older brother had its advantages.
The old house — with newspaper insulation, decrepit windows and a first-floor oil burner — was winter frigid. My bedmate, because he was older, could stay up later. It was my responsibility to head to bed a half-hour earlier to make it cozy before his arrival. When blizzard winds blew, snowflakes settled on our bed. We shared other responsibilities. Our small sled carried wood for the cook stove from the stack, and it was our assigned task to dump the chamber pot.
An office is born
Sarah's bed is in its new home, and the room she shared with her sister seems a little empty. A friend suggests that Kathy transform the space into her office. Kathy embraces the idea.
"What do we need an office for,'' I ask.
"You could write right here instead of going in to work.''
Most people could, but I can't. Birds in flight, a barking dog or a weed carcass that stands strong against the wind would be too distracting. I, like many others, am a creature of habit. Certain rituals must be carried out before writing begins. The empty pop bottle must be refilled with drinking fountain water before I start; the half-dozen desk pens must be arranged in their usual way; and a prayer is silently said before I attempt to fill the empty computer screen.
The righteous must depend on faith and not superstition.
TV commentator, book author and uber columnist Bill O'Reilly says the Holy Spirit inspires him to write. He also happens to be a multimillionaire. A person who isn't famous or wealthy cannot expect to get such heavenly help.
Mychal Wilmes is managing editor of Agri News, a weekly agriculture newspaper published by the Post-Bulletin Co. His column appears every Monday in the print edition.