Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Pillow Talk (#163)

It’s been closer to me, for longer, than anything else in my life. For more than thirty-five years I shared with it my dreams, my hopes, my despair, my tears, my prayers. Virtually every day. More accurately, every night.

“It” is an overstuffed, feather-filled pillow that might once have belonged to my grandmother or great-grandmother. It weighs in at a still-hefty 8-10 pounds. I can’t recall precisely when I took possession of it but it was probably when I left home for university in 1971. And it wasn't new then.

It is a wonderful pillow. I travel with it. In the nearly forty years we’ve been together, I don’t think we’ve slept apart much more than a dozen times.

Holy moley. That’s through two marriages, a dozen jobs and umpteen moves. Thousands and thousands of nights. At approximately eight hours a night that’s over a hundred thousand hours of cradling my head.

How many of you can say you’ve had any part of yourselves cradled by the same thing for over 100,000 hours? (Hair doesn’t count.)

I don’t see any hands. And I’m squinting.

So you can imagine how I felt when my pillow began falling apart a few years ago. Oh, I didn’t panic. I mean, a few feathers were working their way out. Big deal. It happens. As some of the exit holes became dime-sized though, I began to worry a bit. Not overly, because I did as any graduate of the Red Green School Of Handymanhood would do - I duct taped ‘em.

And that worked reasonably well for a few years, even when the holes became tears. Who cares if a pillow sports a few bits of tape here and there? Like laugh lines, they add character.

Lately though, every time I change the pillowcase, a few dozen loose feathers appear from new breaches. The tape isn’t holding very well any more and it appears the fabric itself is disintegrating.

The only logical conclusion of course, is to never change pillowcases again. Good job God invented Febreze. Just in time too.

I felt pretty good about that decision until I realized a complaint or two might eventually be voiced from someone else who may be sleeping in the same vicinity. So, the second most logical plan was to put another pillowcase on, a really good quality one, pull it sort of tight, sew it closed and trim off the extra fabric - making the pillowcase the new pillow. In a way.

And that’s what I meant to do as soon as I could talk someone with a sewing machine into doing it for me. I had high hopes for one of my sisters but was uncertain if any of them owned a sewing machine.

My fallback was sister-in-law Linda, who is Dutch. Dutch people own everything ever invented that has anything to do with housework or cleanliness. In fact, they own two of them, just in case. If she didn’t own a sewing machine it would only be because she could do a better job, and faster, by hand.

So that was my plan. As plans go, I felt it was one of my better ones.

Until last Thursday.

Last Thursday, someone who shall remain nameless (it was Hilary) mused aloud.

“There must be millions upon millions of dust mites in that old pillow of yours. Possibly billions.”

Now, at the time those words were spoken, my head was resting upon that “old pillow” of mine. Upon it and billions of swarming dust mites - surging through the breaches of my pillow’s oft-taped hull.

It was time to abandon ship.

For four nights now, my pillow has laid on the floor beside my bed. For four nights now, I have subjected my head to the indignity of either a foam or too-poofy new feathered pillow.

I have not slept well.

If I wanted to punch a temporary dent in my pillow to accommodate some part of my anatomy, a tender ear or achey jaw, it would stay punched. Not like foam or too-poofy new feathered pillows, which insist on pressing against every single part of your head.

I’ll probably have to go to some expensive store and part with hundreds of dollars for a densely-packed feathered pillow. Maybe I’ll even have to get one custom made. Because I can’t very well ask anyone to sew a new pillowcase on something that is disintegrating and is chock-ful of gazillions of dust mites can I?

Unless...unless someone...someone like, oh, I don’t know let’s say Linda - sees it as a challenge. I mean, if anyone on the planet could hermetically seal a near-forty-year-old disintegrating pillow teeming with hordes of disgruntled dust mites, it would pretty much have to be a person of Dutch descent.

Wouldn’t it?


Hilary said...

Run, Linda.. runnnnn!

I'm sure there's a new pillow out there somewhere with your name on it. Just give the old thing a decent burial.. somewhere distant.. so Benny can't dig it up.

Jo said...

That was so sweet and sad. I understand your pain...I had a feather pillow that took me from toddler years to my teens---what I loved about it is that I won every pillowfight b/c being hit with it was like getting smacked with a sack of oranges.

Maybe it'll be easier to part with your feather pillow if you consider the dustmites probably ate all the feathers a decade ago? My father switched from two-ton feathers to a pillow stuffed with tiny beans or seeds--sounds weird but he loves it.

Reb said...

Oh Frank, that is so distressing.I am sure you will find the pillow of your dreams that will last you the next 40 years. Look at Sears for latex, they are under $100.00, but I am not sure if they are as good as the $500.00 one I tried at the mattress store. Bonus with latex, it won't harbour dust mites.

Frank Baron said...

Hilary, I've been thinking.

I think I'm just gonna put it in the freezer for a while until I decide the wisest course of action. Musn't rush. Wouldn't be prudent. :)

Jo, your pity touches my heart. You are as empathetic as you are wise and perceptive. Plus you're pretty darn funny. A couple of folks have emailed me about the bean-pillow. I may have to check it out. Thanks. :)

Godblessya Reb. Heck, I'll settle for 30 years. ;)

Sally said...

Frank, if you put it in the freezer .... wouldn't that kill the mites?

Hilary said...

According to the folks at http://www.ehso.com/ehshome/dustmites.php
a 48 hour rest in the freezer would indeed kill the mites but you'd end up with a pillow full of dead mite bodies. They also say "Ten percent of the weight of a two year old pillow can be composed of dead mites and their droppings." No wonder your 35 year old pillow is so heavy!

And yep, the freezer is your pre-buriel holding zone for dead things.. like cats. Poor Hobbs.


Frank Baron said...

Maude, an eminently sensible suggestion. Thank you.

Hilary, you are a buzzkill. :P One might think you had a vested interest in the elimination of my pillow....

And about that ten percent nonsense: I have it on good authority that those figures were compiled from a study sponsored by the Pillow Manufacturer's Association.


Hilary said...

"One might think you had a vested interest in the elimination of my pillow...."

I mite..

Anonymous said...

It's me,your sister Lisa, you didn't squint hard enough, my hands are waving mightily! I slept with Uncle Vals 10 pound pillow until Zach wanted it about 8 years ago.I mourned it until I realized I could cuddle it daily and that helped. I got it back about 3 years ago and was so excited to go to bed each night but dust mite reports became common on the news and I started to get the heeby jeebies. I actually matured for one day and said my goodbyes to Uncle Vals pillow(I loved that man dearly)and I threw it away! I really felt bad but thought I got over it until I read your story and now I want it back! Maybe I could borrow yours for a wee cuddle, if it was Grammas her and Uncle val were cousins so the pillows are related right? Don't let Linda touch it! She'll replace it with some Dutch replica. Theresa has a sewing machine, it will be safe there. Bring it to our Easter get together and I'll make you your own loaf of Paska(with extra raisins!)

Frank Baron said...

Okay Lisa. I'll let you look at it. Maybe even hold it for a while.

Two loaves.... ;)

the Bag Lady said...

Frank, your story touches the Bag Lady's soft spot (the one in her head, probably, not the one in her heart...) and she has a suggestion for you.
I know this is going to sound really radical, but...hold on to your chair arms...feather pillows can be WASHED! The ladies of the Hutterite Colonies around here do it all the time! And they will mend it and clean it and even re-stuff it if it needs it. All for a small fee. Surely to goodness there's a colony somewhere close to you. (Hutterites or Mennonites or such)
Or Fed-Ex it to the Bag Lady and she'll clean it, re-tick it (that does not mean putting new ticks into it...) and send it back to you good as new! (for a small fee, of course...)

MagnoliaGirl said...

Almost let this one slip by me....

Your pillow sounds like a lot like my sock monkey, "Monkey the Clown", I called him and still call him. We sleep together from time to time. I'd be scared to see him under that light they use when they tell you about all the extra critters between your hotel sheets.....

Do whatever you have to do to keep the pillow, Frank:)

Kappa no He said...

I've been working on a "pillow post" for the last year. They don't HAVE feather pillows here!...only strange grain-filled things. Talk about bug infestations!


You know you can kill all those critters by sticking your pillow in a very hot car with the windows rolled up -- think summer. And as long as you don't mind living with inhaling all those dead carcasses...

Frank Baron said...

MG, I did not know that sort of light existed.

I never want to see it in action...

Say hi to Monkey for me. :)

Kappa, I'm getting lots of recommendations for that sort of pillow. Over here, they seem to be made of oats and such. I've gotten a couple of passionate testimonials for buckwheat husk pillows. In fact, I'm going to hunt one down and try it out.

Thanks for the hot car trick. I've only ever used that one for getting rid of dogs and cats.

Probably kidding about that last bit....


Frank Baron said...

Hiya Bag Lady. Sorry I missed you on the last go-round. Thanks muchly for your suggestions. If the buckwheat pillow doesn't do the trick, I'll be trying something along the lines of what you suggested. Thanks again. :)

Stace said...

Pillows are tricky. And once you've got the right one, it's hard to move past it. I've had trouble with pillows ever since I moved out of my parent's place. Actually I bought a new pillow a couple of days ago, it seems to be going ok so far. It's nice and firm, I like that in a pillow. I haven't actually been sleeping very well, but I think that's more to do with the fact that I'm in a strange room in a strange city and actually sleeping next to my husband again. The pillow is fine.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

I thought this was a sweet and sentimental post. It's so hard to let go of anything we've held onto for years- and particularly something like a pillow which has reshaped to suit your needs over time. But anything you've kept that long is hard to learn to live without. Very sad that things have to fall apart :(

Frank Baron said...

Stace, I'm breaking in a new pillow. It's a wary dance so far but I HAVE slept. :)

Thanks TE and yes, it is tough to let go. But sometimes you just have to accept that it's time.

Not for my PILLOW necessarily! Nuh-uh. My pillow isn't gone. It's just resting. :)

jessie said...

You caused me to think back to the Christmas in college when my parents gave me two feather pillows from the Company Store, both of which are still in use every night on our bed. That was 1984.

Oh, dear.

They leave dander and feather pieces on the sheets, but the new "better" pillows I got are just too full and stiff. Perhaps mine need a visit to the freezer, too, although the dust mites and I seem to be living in harmony so far.


Frank Baron said...

Try not to think about it Jessie. Next thing you know, you'll be obsessing over those wee beasts that live on our eyelashes.


You're welcome!

Anonymous said...

I wish I could find a pillow that didn't leave my ear & the side of my head in pain when I wake most mornings. Let me know what you discover!

Frank Baron said...

Q, I'm working on a Obus Form Memory Foam pillow now and seems okay. Not great, but okay. Lots of folks, primarily in email, recommended I try a pillow made from buckwheat husks. I'm eventually going to try that one too. If you do first, let me know how it goes. :)

Joanne said...

I'm finally catching up on reading my friends blogs. Don't squint too hard, Frank. You should know that if there was anyone in this world that held fast to something for many, many years, it would be me and strange as it may sound, I, too, still have my grandmother's feather pillow. Over the years feathers began to wiggle their way out of the seams, but it hasn't torn and isn't duct taped. LOL Years ago, after several washings, I finally put one of my grandmothers embroidered pillow cases on it and sewed up the end to keep it from losing more feathers. When those drawstring laundry bags came out I'd stuff it in there and wash it once a month, throw it in the dryer and it was fluffy and good as new. Not sure if all I did to save the pillow and all the washings and dryings killed the dust mites, but that pillow will always be with me--dust mites and all. If the dust mites don't get me, something else will. So what the heck. :D

Frank Baron said...

Thanks for the advice Jo, and for adding to my nice collection of pillow stories. I had no idea how many folks out there were attached to a particular pillow. Shouldn't have surprised me though, I suppose. :)