Friday, September 17, 2021

The Soapbox: The Fat Pillow

4-10 brandi_chambless13When I was a young girl of the age of 13, my Granny stuffed a couple of goose down pillows for my little sister Ava and me.  This was no order from Lands End.  The pillows were real, farm-raised, goose down pillows that had been personally cleaned and stuffed by hand.  In all my life, I had never before, nor since, slept on a pillow quite as heavenly.  Fit for a princess, my little one-year-old sister and I gave them the name the fat pillows.

The fat pillows came into our household during a time in which my Mom was transitioning my sister from a baby bed to a big girl bed as she was approaching the age of 2.  We had matching white iron twin beds in the room we shared.  Even though I was officially a teenager and beginning to focus more on basketball and my friends, Ava was my little doll.  We played house and dress up in our room. Then at night, I would tuck her into her little iron bed with her fat pillow and give her a kiss, or perhaps a zerbert, then tell her how much I loved her.  If she ever had a bad dream or tears in the night, she would come over and snuggle with me until she fell asleep again.  Then when morning came, I would doll her up in pretty clothes and brush her long black hair before I made her breakfast.  Having my own look-alike living doll was the greatest treasure!

When I went away to college at the tender age of 17, Ava was only 5.  The white iron beds were replaced by a queen-sized bed in our room, so that I would have a place to sleep when I came home for the weekends.  Rest assured, the fat pillows were still with us, though mine came to college with me, and Ava’s stayed at home with her.  I remember those weekends well, because Ava and I would stay up talking into the night, giddy, silly sisters, and having missed one another.  I would always ask if I could sleep on the fat pillow, since mine was three hours away in my dorm.  She was a girl who knew her own mind at an early age and gave a firm sibling answer of NO.  In spite of having to sleep on a lumpy pillow, I enjoyed those times so much.

She would tell me what it was like to go to kindergarten and I would tell her what it was like to go to college.  Then later, I would tell her what it was like to get married while she would fill me in on her life in junior high.  I would always ask if I could sleep on the fat pillow, and she would always say NO.  Pleading did not help, for any reason whatsoever.

To this very day, the fate of my own fat pillow remains unknown.  All I know is it became a casualty of my many college moves from dorm to rental property to home and back again for several years.  Rest in peace fat pillow.  I know you are out there somewhere.

When I turned 30, I had a baby and Ava went off to college herself.  I came home on weekends with a husband and my infant son, missing her when I opened the door to her empty room.  No Ava, and for sure, no fat pillow.  Her fat pillow had gone off to college, too.

Now we are both grown up girls with our own families, and unbelievably so, Ava still has her fat pillow.  Don’t panic, germaphobes, the fat pillow can be washed clean from time to time!  Instead of being the “older and cooler” big sister, though, when I visit Ava I’m simply known to her girls as Aunt Bebe and I am forced to sleep on the dreaded sofa bed.  I think whosoever invented sofa beds had a secret ploy to market a product that would actually prevent company from wearing out their welcome.

Despite the inevitable sofa bed slumber, I love seeing what a wonderful mother Ava is to the girls, and remembering our special times in our room years ago.  She brushes and brushes and gently brushes some more her girls’ long hair.  They put on their Frozen nightgowns and body lotion before snuggling up for hugs, kisses and even good night zerberts.  That’s the fun part just before lights out and crotchedy old Aunt Bebe curls up onto the shoddy sofa bed.

This was the scene of my last visit to Ava’s house.  All was quiet.  Then I felt a gentle kiss on my forehead in the dark and Ava said,  “Here is the fat pillow now.  You can have it if you want it.”  I did.  After she walked away, I closed my eyes and that fat pillow seemed to whisper all the secrets of my childhood into my ear while I dreamed sweet dreams about those two white iron beds and the best memories of my youth.  After all these 30 years, Ava finally said YES, and I, at last, got to sleep on the fat pillow once more.

Brandi Chambless
Read Brandi's column each month in The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper.

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