The visiting nurse has always asked the same questions of Peter. I have to answer for him and I nearly always say the same things: Yes, his health is good, yes, his appetite is fine, no, no joint aches, no incontinence, and definitely no trouble sleeping. The man lays himself down and is asleep instantly.
In the past year though, I’ve modified my answer to that question because he started having nightmares. Sometimes he yells, sometimes he talks, but the worst times are when he swings his arms as if punching someone, or kicks with with bruising force.
Of course that disturbs his sleep, although it doesn’t seem to affect him the next morning and he certainly doesn’t remember his nighttime carrying on. He goes right back to sleep; me, not so much.
We’ve always been territorial about our pillows. In fact, Peter is so possessive of his that I put an old, colored case underneath the fresh ones each week, so our pillows don’t get mixed up accidentally. There’s not much chance I would do that anyway. His pillows could be bags of cement; mine could be flattened geese, they’re that lifeless.
About a year ago Peter decided he didn’t need two pillows any more. Each night he placed one pillow on the floor on his side of the bed. He did that for months until I decided to take one when I went to bed to use as a bolster against my back and, not incidentally, as a foil for the frequent nightly soccer goals he scores when he kicks viciously in my direction.
That worked for months.
Then one night I was awakened from a sound sleep when Peter came to bed. Usually he’s very quiet, but that time he yanked away the pillow I’d pilfered months before. I grumbled but drifted off again. In the morning, his reclaimed pillow was on the floor, smoothed and neat, on his side of the bed.
Yesterday morning I slept late for me — 7:15 — but I lay dozing for a few minutes when, suddenly, Peter sat up, threw his arms in the air, yelled, and fell on the floor with a crash. Had he scored a goal for Fulham in his sleep? I ran to his side of the bed, sure he’d broken a bone or gashed his head. No such drama except for his colorful language.
He climbed into bed and went to sleep at once. Later, he didn’t remember falling nor if he’d been playing football in his dreams. I hadn’t noticed the cut above his elbow earlier, but when he complained of blood running down his arm, I showed him proof of his fall. He insisted I’d shoved him out of bed.
Laugh? Might as well.
2016 National Society of Newspaper Columnists’ contest finalist.
I’d lay money on it he is playing soccer in his sleep! You should get one of those body pillows that are long, put it right down the middle of the bed to protect yourself.
Next time we’re shopping and IF I don’t lose him…