Clear Conscience

John’s grandfather, also named John, was legendary for his ability to fall asleep the instant his head hit the pillow.  On hot summer days, Grandpa John would often take a short nap after lunch so I have heard many anecdotal accounts of his extraordinary ability. When people would ask how he could fall asleep so quickly he would give the simple response, “That’s the sign of a clear conscience.”  Unfortunately, he passed the trait on to his grandson.  I don’t mean that it’s unfortunate because I want John to toss and turn for hours every night before falling asleep, but occasionally it would be nice if he were available to help out after 9:00 p.m. Ultimately, this begs the question, “Can your conscience be too clear?”

For example, about a month ago I agreed to watch all 5 of the grandchildren so when John said he would help out, I was very appreciative.  I was especially thankful that I didn’t have to take 2 six-year-olds, 2 four-year-olds, and 1 twenty-one-month old to the grocery store because I needed to get the ingredients to make pies for a belated family Christmas gathering the next day.  When I got back from the store, he was already on the couch watching television but still awake.  Nonetheless, since he was horizontal, I knew he was on his way to Slumberland despite the fact that it was still early, none of the girls were ready for bed, and I had 5 pies to make for the next day.

Since John typically goes to bed early, this wouldn’t have been a noteworthy evening if not for the fact that 1 of the six-year-olds started vomiting around 9:00 p.m. just as I was in the middle of making my first pie.  I won’t go into graphic detail, but the poor girl was sick at least once every hour until 11:00 the next morning.  Around midnight I helped her make a dash to the bathroom, and I was standing in the doorway ready to offer support when John got up from the couch, wandered down the hallway, and stopped just a couple of steps away.  He listened to the pitiful retching for a moment and said, “Is someone taking a bath?”  A bit stunned by his question I replied, “It’s midnight.  Who do you think would be taking a bath at this hour?  Did you forget that Azbey is sick?”  When he indicated that he also needed the bathroom, I suggested that he try one of the other two in the house because this one was going to be occupied for a while.  In short order he was in bed sound asleep.  I shook my head in disbelief as I knew there was no way I could sleep while any of the grandchildren were sick.  Azbey was incredibly brave through the ordeal proving that she is, indeed, tough like a toad.  Somehow in between caring for her and making pies, I got the other 4 children into bed and took my last pie out of the oven at 1:00 a.m.

Over the course of the next few days, everyone in the house that evening succumbed to the illness so John didn’t escape unscathed.  In his defense, I never asked for any help once I got back from the store.  John is good at many things, but doing anything after 9:00 p.m., especially caring for a sick child, is outside his area of expertise so I guess there was no point in both of us losing sleep.  Upon reflection, I think his ability to sleep through chaos and turmoil has more to do with his hearing deficit and less to do with a mind free from guilt.  Nobody’s conscience is that clear.




Leave a Reply

Subscribe to RSS feed