I never wanted Mom’s white metal bed for our guest room. I preferred our second-hand Jenny Lind twin beds, and so did our younger daughters. They grew into women between the wooden spindles abundant with stories, prayers and dreams.
Besides, before Mom fell ill with dementia, she assigned her white bed to my youngest sister’s eldest daughter. When time came for my four sisters and I to gather in our mother’s Kentucky homeplace to divide her possessions, my older sister directed Mom’s white bed to my house.
“When Mom stays with Iris and Mel, she’ll feel more at home sleeping in her own bed,” she reasoned.
My youngest sister assented.
Sadly, Mom didn’t remember the white bed she purchased for the lovely house she’d built in 1975 next door to her old homeplace. For twenty years, my husband and I slept in that bed on summer vacations while our daughters dreamt upstairs in Nana’s “dormitory” designed to sleep sixteen grandchildren.
After the double loss of our firstborn to substance abuse in 1996 and her mother’s death in 1997, Mom sold her dream house and fled to Florida.
My family visited her beautiful new retirement community to celebrate New Year’s Eve. All seemed in good order. Yet, I observed emptiness in Mom’s eyes, a lack of interest in cooking, and her inability to follow a conversation.
“I’m worried about Mom. Something’s wrong,” I told Mel after we settled into her guest bed late that night.
“She’s just tired. The move took a lot out of her.”
The following summer, the same family members who moved our mother to Florida unpacked her household in her McCoy homeplace built in 1925. With the help of her five daughters and sons-in-law, Mom rallied to host her entire family of thirty-some for Thanksgiving dinner.
That night, I climbed the stairs of the homeplace where I lived the first five years of my life, and propped myself up in Mom’s white bed. I sensed another ending approach on the other side of the lace curtain.
My middle daughter opened the door. “Are you okay, Mom?”
Oh, what love and mercy from the one who spent a blissful childhood July alone with her Nana running the McCoy Bottom with her cousins. “Yes, thank you. Just feeling the years pass too fast.”
“I love you, Mom.”
“I love you.”
Soon after, my mother crashed like a comet. One of many solitary drives south to monitor her decline, we sat together on the edge of her mahogany bed. “I don’t know why I sold my house and moved to Florida,” she confessed.
“Well, if you had to get away for a while, a vacation would’ve been a lot easier,” I jested.
Dear Reader, my baby sister and her husband came for Mom’s white bed today. They’ll pass it on to her daughter’s household with three children, the newborn my mother’s namesake, Sadie.
Great-Nana would be tickled.
And one Jenny Lind bed has found another little girl to hold and grow.
Email Iris at firstname.lastname@example.org.