β€œIn life we all have an unspeakable secret"

Ande Bliss

Ande Bliss
November 04
Essays, poetry, opinion and short stories. Free lance on line and in print. Favorite quote: "In life we all have an unspeakable secret, and irreversible regret, an unreachable dream, and an unforgettable love.” ― Diego Marchi Personal Website:


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FEBRUARY 28, 2012 3:32PM


Rate: 13 Flag

I am sure that all of us have “people, places and things” that instantly remind us of something entirely different. They are linked by an event, which had a profound impact on our life.  For me, two of those things are puddles and bed making. An unlikely pairing but this is how it happened: 



 Dr. Foster went to Gloucester

In a shower of rain

  He steppped in a puddle

Up to his middle and never went there again.

The origin of this children’s poem entitled Dr. Foster is English. Gloucester was a reference to Gloucestershire. The historical reference is about a visit King Edward made there. He is repudiated to have fallen from his horse into a mud puddle. He was so embarrassed, he vowed to never return. The underlying story is a warning to children not to get into things, PUDDLES that may be deeper than perceived. *



One of my early childhood memories is about an argument I had with my dad. I was seven, lying on the floor of my room, reading a poetry book.  It featured the picture of a man standing in a puddle. (Dr. Foster) There were rings in the water around his leg. It was fascinating.  I wanted to know ‘WHY” the rings were there. My dad wanted me to make the bed.

I defied him and announced that I was not put on the earth to make beds. It was my job, on the other hand, to know ‘why’.

That was when I stepped into my own puddle. I got my answer to WHY.

“Because I said so!” He bellowed.  I remained in front of my book.In short order, I was over his lap receiving stinging slaps on my rear end.

 I made the bed.

I never got a satisfactory answer from him about the rings. I did get a lesson in behavior   modification.  I learned that obeying brought praise and affection. Disobeying brought spankings and disruption.

I can’t say that I never disobeyed my parents. Unlike the poem, indeed I have “gone there again”. In fact I have spent my seventy plus years, stepping, falling and being pushed into an assortment of puddles. And I still ask why. It is my nature to question.

Although my father did not have anything erudite in mind when he insisted I make my bed before I could read my book; it did establish routine and motivation as part of my make-up. Getting up, making my bed and getting on with the day has become second nature.

As a result of my upbringing, I have become the queen of bed making. I am also compulsively neat, straightening as I go. It is hard for me to leave a room that is not tidy, a table un-cleared, or a towel not folded. There is something strangely satisfying for me, about order. It may be that the inanimate, by their nature, stay put.  Time and chance do not! 

Outside the front door is the world. Inside the door is your nest. To really live life fully, you must leave the nest and join the fray, avoiding puddles as you go. But returning to the nest of your choosing is splendid. It is your comfort zone. Even if it is a single room, it should make you happy. Living with chaos inside of your home, makes no sense. (This includes stress and abuse). We all know the expression that a man’s home is his castle. Mine just happens to be neat.

My husband jokes about my tidying mania and often asks if I am expecting the inspector of beds to visit. I usually grimace and say, “I like it that way.”  But I never connected the dots until my dad died.

Now my husband’s words have a different meaning for me. No longer an abstract, I realize, profoundly, that the inspector of beds, in fact, may have been my father. And I have spent a lifetime, unaware, that I was still seeking his approval.



* (

Illustration is from The Real Mother Goose (1916) illustrated by Blanche Fisher Wright 




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I think a lot of us have the same or similar memories about bed-making. Great story.
Such a sublime, wise and wistful tale. Thank you.
Hey, He said, She said. Thank you for finding me..another bed maker.
Erika, such a lovely comment. Yeah...a bit wistful. I miss my old man. launched this. Thanks
My dear Jane, the creative must have piles, somewhere. Thanks
A splendid read :)
Unfortunately, when I think of bed-making, I am tortured with memories of cleaning hotel rooms for three years...bed after bed after bed after bed....
None the less, the theme of this rings true for all, or at least that is my hope :)
Thanks Jennifer glad you enjoyed it.
Pensive sure my old man is still watching.
Puddles, a cocker spaniel, was my first, and only dog. Dad wouldn't let me keep her 'cause she made puddles in the kitchen. I made sure my kids had tons of pets--even the kind that needed cleaning up after.
Ha! Very clever and subtle, Ande; you made my night. R
[r] one of the smartest things Dr. Phil has talked about is about a small collection of powerful "defining moments" in our lives. Sounds like that sure was a defining moment for you with dad. I really like how you linked the puddles muddle in with the bad making and made a big acknowledgement there at the end. this was such a satisfying and enlightening read! bravo. libby
Hey there beauty..another Puddles connection. Glad your kids have such a "liberal" mom. :)
Thanks Thoth.."you always say the nicest things..."
Libby, glad you liked it. Thanks for taking a peek..glad you came by to read.
What a heartwarming story, Ande! Sometimes it takes most of our lives to reach an epiphany, but isn't the journey worth it? Then the moment becomes so much more precious because we can truly appreciate it.
Now, for me it's vacuuming. . . :o)
Thoughtful post. I watched myself working to hard yesterday and recalled my father being unsatisfied with my chores when I was twelve. All of a sudden I felt the connection between his dissatisfaction and my over-work ethic. Strange how things linger. And puddles...I'm bouncing in those lately! Once your feet are wet, why not jump in one more?
Funsun and Maureen....links and threads. Interesting. How some things connect and others repel. And those puddles.....
Good catch. I think I'd have trouble isolating an event like that. Parental approval, sure, but I can't usually trace how I am to single events like that. I'm sorry for the more recent event that led you to your conclusion, though. I now understand loss better than I used to.
This was heartwarming. Wanting to live by your own rules...
When you were a child it was not your time. Then when it was, the rules were the same. :-) R