For my eleventh birthday I received the bed of my dreams. We were building a new house in the suburbs, and my parents took us downtown Indianapolis to Brown’s Furniture where a good friend and future neighbor was the manager and would give us a good deal. I can still remember sitting at the foot of the white canopy bed with rosebud decals, dreaming that it would be mine while the rest of my family wandered around the store choosing I-don’t-remember-what.
We hadn’t yet moved when the bed was delivered with its matching desk, dresser and night stands. My father painted the bedroom I shared with my sister in the old house. I don’t remember where we slept those last few nights before my birthday while the smell of pink paint dissipated and the furniture was delivered. I do remember the fluttery feeling of excitement as I cracked the door and peaked in the night before the big day. I only glimpsed my mother behind the ironing board, surrounded by billows of pink rosebud bedspread, before she shooed me away. She was smiling even as she scolded. Funny, the moment of revelation when I saw the new room for the first time is forgotten; it is my mother ironing the bedspread that I remember.
The bed in the store was a single bed. What I got was a double—more practical for a guest bed sometime in the future. Sharing a double bed with my sister those months before the new house was finished and we each got our own room was a challenge. How well I remember using the center of that rosebud decal as the starting point to draw a line down the center of the bed and order my sister to stay on her own side.
In the new house I had a pink room with a deep red carpet. I even had a half bath off the room with pink cherry blossom wallpaper. My mother gave me an old quilt to use when I wanted to lie around on the bed—so I wouldn’t ruin the expensive $30 bedspread. I was in college before I realized that the handmade, Depression Era, tulip-appliqué quilt was worth considerably more than that bedspread.
There were times as a teen that I looked at my friends’ rooms with bulletins boards and posters and thought they might be fun, but I never really was a teenager. I preferred to paint a rocking chair white or spend $25 dollars of saved allowance on an antique bowl and pitcher set to keep the tone of a nineteenth century lady. Of course, it wasn’t real—no nineteenth century lady had box springs or Formica tops on her night stands—but the room was me.
I got married from that bed and brought my husband back to it. (He was a good sport about it.) When we moved back to the U.S. with our children in junior high, I took the bed from the guest room in my parent’s house for my oldest daughter. I realize now I was pushing something on her that wasn’t really her personality. When her own little girl was born, my daughter wanted nothing to do with pink or frills.
When we sold the house in Indiana and consolidated to the lake before returning to Africa, the dresser and nightstands went into a basement bedroom. The canopy bed was too tall for the very necessary ceiling fans, so the pieces went into odd corners of basement and garage. Some mornings when we slept in the loft over the garage during family reunions, I would lie on a mattress on the floor and fantasize putting the canopy bed up there. But during some garage clean-up, the metal side pieces got thrown away as unidentified scrap. It wasn’t going to happen.
But now I have a grand daughter who, despite her mother’s aversion to pink and ruffles, is totally entranced by them. She refuses to zip her fleece at the ice rink because it will cover the plastic “jewel” sewn at the neck of her pink velvet skating dress. Her room is too small for the double bed. The canopy would never fit under the ceiling fan. But the attic over the two-car garage has been remodeled into an office for me. If we traded the twin beds, and moved things around . . .
And there it now is. My grand daughter carefully enunciates the new word—ca-no-py. She scampers out to the attic to have another look and throw herself down under its pink ruffles. I see a little of my own joy and excitement in her eyes. Can it really have been fifty years next month?
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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