There we were, stuck in the snow in the dark. When it’s dark in Nebraska and snowing, it’s DARK except for an eery glow. When there are no farms nearby with their security lights it’s dark and lonely. I had been living in that area long enough that it was familiar to me but it wasn’t to Mother and she didn’t like it. The temperature wasn’t extremely cold but that didn’t keep her from predicting we would freeze before we were found. I got out, over her protests, and went to the back of the car, opened the trunk and got out her snug sack. I was prepared for the cold weather, myself, and I’d left the engine running so we’d have heat. I tucked the snug sack around her and settled down to wait.
It must’ve seemed like an eternity to Mother but it wasn’t long until headlights appeared through the thick snow and there was Bandit with DH at the wheel. He got out and came over to the car to make sure we were okay. I assured him we were and Mother declared he had the handsomest face she’d ever seen. He waded through the deepening snow to the other side of the car and half carried Mother to the pickup. It sat higher than the vehicles she’d traveled in before and it was a bit of a business to get her up into it. DH got on the driver’s side and reached across to pull while I pushed from behind. Between the two of us, we managed to get her situated. DH unloaded the trunk and secured everything in the back of the truck. He left the car unlocked and we set out for home—again.
Mother was concerned about our leaving the car on the road like that but what were we to do? There was no way we could move it. Our experience with the road clearing crews was that it would be okay but it was hard to convince her. As glad as she was to be on the road again, she couldn’t help but worry. She was the gold medal winner in the Olympics of Worriers, anyway. If she didn’t have anything to worry about, she’d make something up.
It was kind of tricky for DH to drive with Mother in the middle. If it had been me, it would have been no problem but shifting gears that close to her legs was embarrassing. He was as delicate as he could be under the circumstances and I’m sure she understood he wasn’t trying to get fresh.
DS2 and DD were waiting for us and DS2 was anxious to see his granny. DD couldn’t remember her but she was getting caught up in the excitement, anyway.
Once again, DH assisted Mother out of the truck and into the house and then he went back and got all of her “dunnage” as she called it. We were home and it was still 40%-ing.
We were all pretty much wrung out after a long day so we got Mother settled and went to bed. Before I “flew up”, I checked outside and it was still snowing to beat the band.
Next morning, we got up to a winter wonderland—and it was still snowing. It snowed all that day and the next and the next. Mother and DD would be on the couch and Mother would say, “Guess what?” I’d ask, “What?” She’d answer, “It’s thnowing.” (I don’t know how to write “guess” with a lisp but that’s the way she’d say it.) When all was said and done, we officially ended up with 37″. And there had been a 40% chance with no predicted accumulation.
DS2 was still in the hospital. The surgeon had been snowed in as well. DS2 couldn’t see why we didn’t come get him. Where the hospital was on a hill, the snow had blown away and drifted down below. He could see bare ground but 50 feet away, the street signs were drifted over.
Meanwhile, DS2 and DH were having a ball in Bandit. They’d take it out across the fields, get it high-centered and dig it out. Then they’d start all over again. Gas was relatively cheap.
It was four days before the maintainer showed up which was almost unheard of in those parts. The road crews were always Johnny-on-the-spot but this was a system that had covered a larger area with more snow than usual. They had miles and miles of roads to clear.
DH and I left Mother and the younger two at home to see how the car had fared. There it was, pushed off to the side of the road and no worse for wear. We continued on to the hospital where DS1 welcomed us with open arms. One was in a cast. Later, the surgeon told us the wrist had broken at the growth line and that arm might end up shorter than the other. (It didn’t.)
Before we headed back to the homestead, we stopped to check on our Nebraska Grandmother. She and her husband were trying to clear the snow from their driveway. Their house was on a little hill just down the street from the hospital and it was well-drifted. DH took over and had the snow moved in short order. DS1 saw why we hadn’t been able to get out to bring him home.
The landscape looked unfamiliar under all that snow. Snow wasn’t unusual but it would fall, blow and drift. There would be lots of bare places. To have three feet of snow covering the ground was unheard of.
A few days later, Mother agreed to watch DD. She and the boys caught up on old times while DH and I went for a ride in Bandit. We headed for the sandhills North of the Interstate. The roads up there were one lane with pull-offs here and there in case two vehicles met. The maintainers were still clearing roads and people with glazed eyes were emerging from being held hostage by the blizzard. We went as far as we could with snow on either side piled up higher than the truck. Finally, we rounded a curve (there were curves in the sandhills) and there were two maintainers attacking a drift—one from the South and the other from the North. We backed down to a pull-off, turned around and retreated. We’d had it better than a lot of people.
I’d been trying to impress Mother with my, by then, well-honed mostly vegan cooking skills. She wasn’t easy to impress. Our very favorite entree was polenta with cream cheese, ripe olives and marinara. It had a layer of polenta, the other ingredients in the middle, another layer of polenta, then topped with marinara and baked. I fixed it for Sabbath dinner and served it with garlic bread and a huge salad. I waited for the compliment but it never came. I started fishing. I told her that when I served it to our friends and/or church members, people always asked for the recipe. She was the Mistress of the Terse Putdown. All she said was, “I won’t.” I didn’t make it again while she was there. She never mentioned it but I wondered how many times she told it and laughed her trademark laugh. We liked it and that’s what mattered.
All in all, we enjoyed the visit and it seemed to be over too soon. She was heading out on the bus to go back to Tennessee and home. It had been a long time for her to be away. We were back to the five of us.
DH had to get back out there and make a living. This time, he and F/J were doing an independent trip that didn’t have anything to do with the pilot pool. He didn’t tell me where he was going. He promised to call whenever he could.
The boys were getting increasingly combative. It was harder and harder to keep them from trying to do each other in. My nerves were frayed. I went to the doctor and he put me on Sinequan. On top of everything else, it had been days since I’d heard from DH and worry didn’t come close to describing what I was feeling. I had to get out of there. I took DD and went to a motel for a night so I could have some peace and quiet. The boys were old enough to take care of themselves if they didn’t kill each other.
I called F/J’s sister and she was almost as concerned as I was. She hadn’t heard anything, either. It wasn’t like either one of the men not to call.
After my mini-retreat, I went back home. The boys were subdued. They knew I had my limits. I’d never left them to fend for themselves. It was welcome calm but it didn’t do anything to lift the dark sense of foreboding I felt. I couldn’t breathe…