Comeuppance in daylight savings game came with age
Though we are are sometimes told that farmers are major beneficiaries of daylight saving time, that is certainly not what I heard years ago on a small hill farm in Chapeltown. Parents, grandparents, and neighbors considered the hour change a major disrupter of the natural order of things.
Daddy in particular would go on and on about the adverse effects on him, his cows, and about everything else in our small world of that time.
Probably because of the natural resilience of youth, I don’t recall any ill effects from time changes in my early years. The loss of an hour’s sleep in the spring might have led to a drowsy morning but certainly nothing of any consequence.
There was a major change in my life when I chose a sea-going career — perhaps the polar opposite of life on the farm. With long voyages, long international flights to and from ships that didn’t return to the U.S., and an hour change every 15 degrees of longitude, time changes became a part of my life.
The little game that Daddy and I began to play started in the late 60s when I returned home from the Orient. I had experienced an hour change every other day during the long voyage across the Pacific, and had topped that off with a change of two more hours during the plane ride from San Francisco. It was just too much to get home and find Daddy “suffering” from a measly hour change that had occurred weeks before.
I told him that his complaints were ridiculous and that he needed to get over making a big deal out of such a small thing. After that, he embellished the ill effects of time changes even more, and I had to show that they had no effect upon me – a task that became more difficult as I got older.
It certainly became more difficult in the mid-80’s when I was assigned to a ship on station on Diego Garcia, a small atoll in the middle of the Indian Ocean and just about halfway around the globe from home. Since the ship seldom returned to the U.S., duty rotations usually required a long journey. It was about a 24-hour ordeal of flights, changing planes, and sitting in airports, and one’s body clock required a 12- hour reset.
Those trips were a strain, but I could only show the effects when reaching the ship. When returning home, I had to keep a stiff upper lip because Daddy was watching. Regardless of how I felt, I would jump right into the routine and go to work with him the next day.
Daddy left us when I was about three years into the Diego Garcia rotations — an assignment that would last another seven years. But it was at least two years after his death before I allowed myself to rest a day after returning home. It seemed that he still might be watching to see if I would show the strain of all those time changes.
Now, nine years after any international travel, and five years of hanging around on this little farm where my life began, a curious thing has happened. I am now feeling the effects of a measly one hour time change, and I wonder why.
Is it possible that a body clock accustomed to change can get out of practice when the body is stationary? Or does moving into one’s middle 70s make everything more difficult?
On Monday while performing some routine tasks, I felt fatigued and short of breath. I knocked off a little early for lunch, and while resting I stumbled on an Internet article stating that heart attacks increase about ten percent following time changes.
I have been very cautious since reading that, and have taken frequent breaks from work this week.
Seeing Daddy again would be a pleasure, but I don’t want our reunion brought about by a heart attack caused by a time change. I’d be hearing about that forever.