"Seeing this photo made me think about sleeping in bed with my wife Sheila. As she was born in the Chinese Year of the Monkey, I have had four and a half years practice of sleeping next to one. Incidentally, if this image is reflective of me and Sheila asleep, I'm the fatter one; the bottom scratcher!
For those of you who know either me or Sheila, you will know that we have been married five years and not four and a half. Unfortunately, our time together in bed these days is more spontaneous than routine. As a result of having two lots of cancer treatment, my feet and hands are now so sensitive and painful all day and night, that the only way I can now get to sleep is to thrash about in bed as I fling my legs back and forth to ease the constant sensations in them. Not only would it be unfair to inflict such behaviour on my beautiful wife, but I'd hate to be the first man ever to kick her out of bed!
Six months ago, we made the decision to take a leaf out of the aristocrat's book and to sleep in separate beds and separate rooms and occasionally visit the other. I'd most certainly recommend such a move to the partner of any snoring or flatulent bedmate (Of course I'm the guilty one, and even if I wasn't, I'm too much of a gentleman ever to spill the beans on my fair lady!)
I have always placed little credence to a woman's assertion that size doesn't matter. Take it from me, where the bed is concerned it matters enormously. The bigger the bed is, the more room one has to move around. When the bed size is too small for two movers and shakers, you may fall asleep in each other's arms, but you are more likely to wake up kissing backsides. Have you ever wondered how rock hard a woman's small derriere is compared to the much larger, and might I add, the flabbier backside of a man? What's all that about then?
They say that all of us dream, but not everyone remembers having dreamt. Ever since childhood and the development of a vivid imagination, I have dreamt one kind of dream and another. I still dream vividly today and often awake with the theme of a new story to write or having solved a puzzle in one I am currently writing.
As a child, the dreams I had might have been part of a western film I'd seen earlier that night and I'd wake up in a sweat with a Sioux arrow through my throat. In my teens, I would frequently dream of more adventurous stuff and by the time I had passed the age of majority, I dare not tell the priest in the monthly confessional box of the depravity of some of my nightly visions. While I'm prepared to accept that in the eyes of the Catholic Church one can be guilty of having certain unwholesome thoughts during the light of day, I firmly believe that even God appreciates that one cannot be held wholly accountable for the content of one's dreams when sound asleep!
During the years my first marriage was breaking down, when night arrived the marital bed became a prison from which they'd be no release until the following morning and the sentence was spent.
After my ex-wife decided to end our marriage, once the initial wounds had started to heal, I travelled the country far and wide meeting up with many women in similar circumstances to myself. Indeed, there was a period when I forgot that I was a man in his mid-sixties who'd tricked his ageing body into believing that it could still live the life of an active thirty-year-old. I forgot that I'd incurred two heart attacks at the age of 59 years; the second of which left me unconscious and on life support for three days while my five children held vigil around my bed in Leeds General. In fact, it is highly probable that had I not met my wife Sheila when I did in 2010, and put a stop to my galavanting far and wide, I would most certainly have had another heart attack and not be alive now to have contracted the terminal illness I have today!
I have since rediscovered the many pleasures of bed, particularly when you are in bed beside the one you love. Since knowing Sheila, we have read, drunk tea, talked about our day, made love, kissed, cuddled, held hands and slept in bed. We have even scratched each other's backs from time to time and given shoulder massages in turn. The main thing is that the pressure to perform has never been placed on either of us and by golly, what a tremendous difference that has made! I have found love and physical attraction in a marriage before, but now I enjoy both of these aspects, along with a deep sense of spirituality that has added a new dimension to my relationship with a woman. Before marriage, our relationship tended to be all passion, and it is only into the marriage after it has settled, that we have become inseparable best friends and soul mates in our roles as man and wife.
My relationship with Sheila has taught me that a heart worth loving is one you understand; even in silence. Not only do I believe that fate meant us to be together, but that we came from the same star when God made the heaven and earth. I believe that destiny leads love throughout its journey between two hearts and that our universe grants every soul a twin, a kindred spirit; a reflection of themselves. There are no accidental meetings between soul mates. In the finding and the settling of my spirituality with Sheila, I have known a satisfied soul knotted by a love that will never be unwound."William Forde: February 5th, 2018.