After spending my entire married life on hand-me-down mattresses, except for that brief period with a rent-to-own deal, I was ecstatic about choosing a brand new set. We had been discussing it for ages, knowing instinctively that a number of our aches and pains would subside if we weren't constantly fighting for the one spot in the bed that didn't sag to the floor.

My mattress history is dismal at best. As a toddler, I was transferred from the crib to my very first "big bed." This is a normal course of events in the life of every child, but most children don't inherit the bed of their recently deceased great-grandfather.

Grandpa Whipple was a hefty man, and the mattress he had slept on for a quarter century prior to my birth, resembled a swayback horse. A hammock would have been an improvement.

To a 3-year-old it didn't matter much. I took my blankie and cocooned in the deep indentation. But by the time I reached six, my mother began to worry that the complete lack of lumbar support would permanently affect my posture. Dad had an ideal solution, and it did not include a trip to the mattress store.

Plywood had been used to build a hutch for my rabbits, cover the beams in the attic to prevent anyone from stomping through the living room ceiling, and as a ramp for wheeling elderly relatives in and out of the house. So, it came as no surprise that, in an effort to shore up the deteriorating mattress, a sheet of plywood was tucked underneath. My posture did not improve, and I now had the added burden of waking up with splinters in my fingers if I let my hand drape over the edge of the bed.

At the age of nine, I didn't pass the annual scoliosis test held in my school's library. The nurse sent a note to my mother indicating that further evaluation was needed. Fortunately, the doctor determined that the slight curvature of my spine did not warrant a scoliosis diagnosis. Mom was certain we had dodged a bullet, and that evening my sister and I got new beds.

The bunked beds were an exciting addition to our life! We could use them as a fort, or go mountain climbing, or drape sheets and create elaborate hideouts. The foam piece covered in fabric, emblazoned with images of the Liberty Bell, George Washington, and other American icons, didn't really deserve to be called a mattress. But no dead person had ever slept on it, so I was as happy as, well, as happy as a little girl who no longer had to sleep in the bed of her dead great-grandfather.

When I was a teenager, and finally got my own room, I was the recipient of an antique bedroom set that mom bought from the landlady. I strongly suspect the bed had been tucked away in the basement because the landlady's husband had died on it, but I didn't ask, and mom didn't tell.

After 22 years, hubby and I finally got to choose a set all our own. For the first time in my life, I went bed hopping, just to check out the mattresses, of course. We bounced around the store twice, narrowed it down to two, and then made our final decision.

I woke up on my forty-fourth birthday feeling considerably younger than I have in years. Immediately, aches and pains were being alleviated. My future grandchildren needn't worry about inheriting this mattress. I'm planning to take it with me when I go!