Masked intruders, ghosts, monstrous bugs and dreams about talking black cats were just some of the neurotic bumps in the night that kept me awake as a child. When I'd finally gather the courage to roll over and slide out of bed, I'd scamper out into the hallway and down the stairs as fast as I could so as to breeze past the Hulk sized tarantula that was surely wandering around the house as the trained pet of the chainsaw wielding man that was also lurking in the unfamiliar shadows created by night.
I'd sit in the lamp lit living room and watch infomercials about food dehydrating devices and knives so sharp they could slice through rope just waiting for the glowing green numbers on the VCR to read 4:15 a.m. That magical time made ghouls and goblins vanish because I knew Uncle Pete was waking up across town to begin his morning pre-work ritual. Just knowing that my strong and protective Uncle Pete was awake brought so much comfort to my little worrisome mind that I was able to banish the bumps in the night, get back into bed and drift back to sleep.
I remember my Mom telling him about this little childhood quirk of mine once and he just laughed softly with a wry smile. Even when I was older and the uncertainties of the night kept me from sleep, Uncle Pete's 4:15 a.m. wake up call still provided the same comfort.
Now, 20 plus years later, I find myself sitting up in my bed in the wee hours of the morning, wracked with precarious insomnia from the seemingly never ending worries of this particularly troubled young adult and when 4:15 a.m. glowed green from the cable box, this temporarily forgotten memory of a beloved, gentle man surfaced. The numbers then blurred together, the childhood comfort now replaced with emotion and a happy recollection.