This day in 1987 it snowed.
Snow of any proportion in a children’s home is reason to celebrate. You sled, you have snowball fights, you build snowmen and then knock them down, build a fort and then come in the house freezing looking for hot chocolate.
This day, with 24 inches and still coming down, Mighty Mittens (me) and my gang wrestled and slipped and slid all over the hillside at the front of the home. Their goal was to cover me in snow and my goal was to avoid it.
Then the phone call came. “Your mom’s in the hospital. Come now.” Finding a car on the campus that could manage the ever drifting snow, blizzard conditions and unplowed highways between Paradise and Harrisburg took some time. Our one hour trip on good roads took four hours driving at 5-10 mph. Driving was rather surreal. Snow pelted our windshield like a scene from a sci-fi movie where the space ship travels unhindered through the vast universe passing planets and stars on all sides.
In the distance we could see a car parked on the side of the road. Smoke was billowing from the driver’s side window that was cracked less than an inch. The amount of snow, the phone call to “Come now” and the smoking car made the afternoon feel like we were driving through a dream. The dream was more of a nightmare that wouldn’t let me go.
No one stopped. No one stopped in front of us. No one stopped behind us. We all passed slowly by this garish scene. The other motorists probably thought as we did, could this be real? Cell phones hadn’t been invented yet. Watching my sideview mirror intently, I finally told my hubby, “We have to turn around. No one is stopping. Mom is in a hospital, she has my dad, my brother, doctors and nurses with her. If there’s someone in that car, they have no one.”
We traveled to the next exit and came back to park on the other side of the snow covered highway. There wasn’t even a fingernail file in our borrowed car to try breaking into the smoldering vehicle. Despite his valiant efforts in the worst of conditions my hubby couldn’t rouse anyone inside. He climbed back over the guardrail and we were on our way again. As we began driving away, we spotted emergency vehicles cresting the hill ahead of us. Help was on the way.
A good runner or someone on skis could have made faster progress.
Arriving at the ER, we were met by my brother and faced the sad, sad fact that mom had passed hours earlier. Unknown to us, she was already gone when they called me. Because of a bed shortage due to the weather, she had been moved to the morgue. Denny asked me, “Do you want to go see her?” My response, “Is that what I’m supposed to do?” “There is no right or wrong here, Ginny. But whatever you decide to do, I’ll help you.” I didn’t want to see her in a cold metal drawer covered with a sheet. Those simple words left me grieve in my own way. I will always be thankful for his support in those first moments.
It’s 28 years and this still makes me cry.
Any age is too young to lose your mom. I was 40, and it felt like my mommy was taken. Knowing we would never laugh or cry together again was hard but she gave me the best of gifts in those 40 years. She instilled imagination, creativity, resourcefulness, contentment, the ability to laugh at myself, a tender compassion for the needs of others and a desire to stand by my man through sickness and health, richer, poorer, for better and for worse. I watched her stand by my dad for 51 years, and like any marriage their’s was not perfect. But she didn’t give up on it.
Every once in a while I dream about her and we’re always laughing together. I hate to wake from those dreams because she’ll be gone again. But then I thank God for the visit and the memories we made.
I wrote this post at center court of Park City Mall while I waited the two and a half hours predicted until Apple could look at my dead computer. Writing was accompanied by tears as the memories walked across my mind. When it was my turn to have the computer looked at, a young woman in her mid 30’s was ever so helpful. She laid healing hands, so to speak, on the computer and we’re back in business again.
As I was leaving, I asked her name. When she replied, I must have looked like I didn’t hear her. So she spelled it, E-v-a. My eyes immediately filled with tears. Eva, that was my mom’s name.
Silly maybe, but I feel like she just visited again through the eyes, hands and intellect of this young lady. Mom would have never been able to work for Apple though, she wasn’t big on technology. Finding multiple uses for a stapler at her first office job gave her a great deal of pleasure. She used it to fix her purse, a friend’s shoe, a falling hemline. She never learned to drive, but she managed to get where she wanted to go. What a woman!
Eva glanced again at her Apple paper work. Her eyes filled with tears too realizing that my name was Virginia. Her best friend by the same name died suddenly last January.
This day . . . was unique.