My wife has always had trouble getting to sleep. When we were young I used to tease her about having a guilty conscience. She still has trouble getting to sleep, and we’re both too old to do anything to feel guilty about—actually I think we could still do things, it just no longer seems worth the effort.
As much trouble as she has falling asleep, she has even more trouble getting up in the mornings. For a long time she kept her alarm clock, set to go off at 7:00 AM, right beside the bed. It would go off and she would reach over and hit the snooze button. Somewhere deep inside my wife’s head I think she believes the snooze button not only shuts off the alarm for ten minutes, but actually shuts off Time for ten minutes. Why else, after hitting the snooze four or five times, would she seem stunned when I go into the bedroom and tell her it is almost 8:00. Sometimes she gets mad at me as if I had sneaked into the room while she was sleeping and turned Time back on. Now she has her alarm clock in the bathroom so she has to get up and shut the alarm off, and then she goes back to bed, or she lets the radio play while she lies in bed sleeping until I come to tell her it’s almost 8:00. She still yells at me. I don’t know why she doesn’t just hide the key to Time so I’m not tempted to keep turning it back on.
For twenty-two years when I was a deputy sheriff I worked the overnight shift. Normally I got off work at 6:00 AM. At the time, my wife, who had never worked an overnight shift, believed God intended man to sleep between the hours of 10:00 at night and 8:00 in the morning—a little longer if some diabolical husband happened to turn Time back on without telling her. After I had gotten to sleep at 6:30, my wife called at 9:00. Her first question was, “Are you still in bed?” Then she began reciting a honey-do list of things she wanted done before she got home at 5:00. I nodded, agreed to get them done, hung up the phone, shut off Time and went back to sleep. That night at 1:00 AM I called my wife. My first question was, “Are you still in bed?” Then I gave her a list of things she needed to get done before I got home at 6:00. After that God changed the hours man was allowed to sleep.
When I went from working nights to working days, I thought it would take my body a while to adjust, but it didn’t. I can fall asleep in a minute, much to the chagrin of my wife. I usually start out sleeping on my side, but I’m told I roll to my back and fold my arms across my chest much like someone lying in a casket. One night after we’d had chili salad for supper, my wife said she actually took my pulse to see if I hadn’t passed away in my sleep. She said it wasn’t so much that I looked deader than the other times, but she didn’t believe the odor coming from me could have come from a live person. Later she admitted she had been foolish; that strong of a smell could have only come from someone who had been dead several weeks.
Normally I wake up in the mornings before my alarm goes off. Sometimes I lie in bed waiting for the alarm, but usually I get up, shut off the alarm, make coffee and start writing. I heard once that the majority of people die in bed. I figure the less time I spend there the better chance I have of making it out of here alive. Even if I do expire in bed, at least I will save the morticians some time with body positioning, but I doubt if they’ll knock anything off the bill.