This I Believe

Barbara - Ellicott City, Maryland
Entered on June 5, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65


My mother said, “Always make your bed”. My grandmother and her four sisters always, without fail, made their beds. As a young girl, learning to make my bed was the first chapter in the book on how to live a disciplined life. The square corners I didn’t learn until I got to nursing school. Sister Thecla taught me how to square the corners and turn down the crisp hem over the white cotton blanket. Other lessons were daunting. That one I aced. The book is dog-eared now, but it has served me well. I believe that simple lessons in discipline have helped to shape my life. They have given it form and boundaries within which I love and serve myself and those around me.

When I was a young mother, sometimes the making of my bed was the only constant in my life. There were toys underfoot, cereal on the walls near the highchair, colicky babies and curious toddlers. Yet, there in my bedroom was one serene, quiet, and nicely made bed.

My grandmother started her day by making her bed. She readied herself for the busy day with pearl earrings, and a little rouge. Rooms were cleaned, clothes washed and dinner cooked. All these things she did for the love of us, her family. She was proud of her clean house, her neatly made beds and the abundant pots of food on her stove. My mother and grandmother opened their welcoming, lovely homes to all their family and friends. Like my bedroom, their homes were havens for the weary.

As my nursing career continued, along with the observing, medicating, and treating of my patients, I always had my secret weapon, my “ace in the hole”, my little voice in my head—“always make your bed”. When all else failed, a back rub and a freshly made bed conveyed my love and caring. If my patients were too sick to notice, it never failed to comfort their families.

I am retired now. Recently my dear uncle was dying. There was nothing medically left to do for him. I cared for his dying flowers on the windowsill. I sat with him and held his hands. I massaged his feet and rubbed his back. Then I made his bed, squared the corners and readied him for his journey.

I believe that making my bed was only the first of many lessons of discipline that the women in my life taught me. All the skills and good habits that they ingrained in me are the tools that I use today to show my love, to comfort, to nourish and provide a safe haven to my family and friends.

So, always make your bed! At least you won’t be tempted to get back in and perhaps you’ll get something done today. Best of all, you’ll have an island of serenity in the sea of your busy life.