Saturday, December 18, 2010

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times – Chapter 60

(This photo of my dad, which I don't think anyone in our family has seen before, was taken when he was about 39 years old, right around the time he married my mom.)
#60– “Put a pillow at your back.”
This one of one hundred things my mom taught me a million times just joined the list yesterday. It’s funny how things trigger memories. I was rearranging the 6 pillows in my living room chair (my office), and the memory just popped up like a cartoon caption bubble! “Put a pillow at your back!”

There’s so much irony in this lesson that I hardly know where to begin. Let’s see, there’s the dearth of pillows in my childhood home, the fact that I am a “pillow pig,” the infectious aspects of pillow hogging - oh well, I’ll just dive in and see where this memory leads me.

I’ve heard that people who survived the Nazi concentration camps were prone to obesity later in life.  Pillows were few and far between in our house, and usually homemade and virtually flat. As a result, pillows are important to me -  a measure of opulence and a source of solace. When most little girls were dreaming of marrying prince charming, I dreamed of owning as many pillows as I wanted –pillows in every room of every size, shape and color, pillows to burn. I remember when the zillion pillows on your bed trend first surfaced. I would stare dreamy-eyed at the pictures in Better Homes and Gardens.

I have lots of pillows, shop rather obsessively for them (FYI, Garden Ridge and Tuesday Morning are the best sources), and keep Goodwill well stocked in cast-offs. Let's see, I have 12 pillows in my living room, 6 in the Cowboy Room (masculine bedroom), and12 in the Frou-Frou room (feminine bedroom). My hubby put his foot down on too many pillows in the master bedroom and the lounge (where he spends his leisure time). Also, no pillows in the bathrooms or kitchen. He can be so unreasonable sometimes! Click on Read More Below...

I don’t think pillows are just a deprivation issue for me though. Around 2006 I read Temple Grandin’s book about her autism,  Animals in Translation, and the idea occurred to me that perhaps I am a bit autistic as well. You may have seen the HBO move about her last year. She has a PhD in Animal Science and has revolutionized certain aspects of the cattle industry. Anyway, because her autism made her feel like she was spinning out of control she invented what she called a “squeeze machine” modeled after a squeeze chute used to hold cattle still so they can be vaccinated (or have their balls jerked out). 

I sleep surrounded by pillows. I work surrounded by pillows. Like Grandin’s squeeze machine, pillows make me feel calm and secure, although I doubt they would calm me if I were getting my balls extracted. But back to mom’s lesson #60 – Put a pillow at your back.

I adored pillows even as a kid, but typically resisted doing anything that my mother told me to do. Seems we’re hardwired for that. So for years I wrote #60 off as a “mother trying to tell me what to do again,” thing until one day (obviously when she was nowhere around) I slipped a pillow into the small of my back and heaven was revealed! It was as if when God was making us she said, “Hmmm, that lower back looks like trouble. Oh well, they can always put a pillow back there.”

When I go camping I take eight pillows with me. My pillows take up dang near more room in my car than the rest of my camping gear. I need three at my back, two under my knees one under each elbow and one in my lap to cradle my book. Actually I prefer to have a fourth pillow at my back, but I draw the line at taking nine pillows camping. Honestly!

My hubby kids me unmercifully about the pillows, but he’s a closet pillow pig himself (the infection reference). Every overnight stay in a hotel/motel involves a pillow fight. Not hitting with, but rather fighting over. We invariably end up calling housekeeping to request more pillows. They arrive, pillows in tow, stare at the 12 pillows already on our bed (now cleverly labeled firm, medium, hypoallergenic, feather), and look at us with a mix of kinky curiosity and chagrin.

So mom was right. Put a pillow at your back …. and under your knees, and behind your neck, in your lap, under your elbows, and anywhere else that makes you feel just right!

Happy Holiday!


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