Some weeks earlier, DH and the boys were on their way home and a blizzard struck. DD and I were waiting at the house and the hour grew later and later. I was getting nervous and called the landlord along about 11 pm. He chided me for not calling sooner and set out on his tractor to try to find them. The tractor had an enclosed cab with heat. It was prepared for the elements. When he found the car, it was well-drifted. DH and the boys were huddled in the back of the station wagon under the blankets we were wise to keep handy. I’d put in a grocery order that included bananas and they were frozen solid. Nebraska weather doesn’t play around. The snow had been coming down so hard scooping it away was impossible. Everyone was happy to see each other and they willingly crowded into the tractor cab and came home. Talk about relieved! In that part of the country, it’s unusual for someone to freeze to death because of routine preparation but it isn’t unheard of. And here we were, in a worse pickle.
DH was still outside, looking for something to scoop the snow away from the car but he was coming up empty. That’s another thing vehicles in Nebraska carry—a shovel. In our case, the shovel of choice was a grain scoop. It was sturdier than a snow shovel and wider than a garden spade. It also had a straight edge on it that made it wonderful for clearing snow. We didn’t have one. In our hurry to get home, we hadn’t taken needing anything like that into account. Our warm clothes and the partial tank of diesel were the two things we had going for us, and our shared body heat was the third.
Actually, I’m leaving out other very important assets—DH’s determination. He didn’t give up easily. He was also resourceful. There wasn’t much in the car since it was brand new (my first new car) and we hadn’t had time to load it up with miscellaneous Stuff. It had heavy cardboard carpet protectors, though, and he grabbed one, closed the door and started digging. There must’ve been an angel strengthening that cardboard. It held up until enough snow was cleared away to make it possible for us to be on our way. DH got back in the car and we were off.
We weren’t many miles from home and I was ready to call it a night. It was after 10 pm when we pulled up to the house where every light was on. The boys came tumbling out the door and were ecstatic to see that we had gotten a Peugeot after all! DH promised rides the next day. They had to get in and test out the seats. It was an exciting time.
I wasn’t the only one who bonded with the car. It immediately became a member of the family.
I have no idea where the station wagon ended up and, personally, I didn’t care. I had no attachment to it. A purpose had been served and that was the extent of my feelings.
DH kept flying and I’d have to go pick him up at the airport. No matter what time of the day or night it was, I’d haul DD and sometimes the boys out and here we’d go. He started eyeing pickup trucks but we couldn’t afford two vehicles quite yet.
Meanwhile, the snow kept coming. It would snow every week. I’d been reading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder to the boys (DD was still too young to appreciate them) and when we got to The Long Winter, I knew I had to read it to DH. But if I started with that book, he wouldn’t know the context so I started over from the beginning. A new tradition was born! Whenever DH was at the wheel of the car, I would read aloud. I could do that on Nebraska roads because they had no curves (except for Correction Road). I read all the Little House books, the Chronicles of Narnia, and all of James Herriot’s books that were in print at the time.
At first, my throat would get sore but eventually I could read for hours without a break and it didn’t bother me. When DD wrote about being read to and reading, she was 100% right.
One day, I got a disturbing phone call. Mother had fallen in my former employer’s beauty shop and had broken her hip. She was in her mid-70s and I was heartbroken. I didn’t have much experience with people who had broken hips who survived for very long. Would she be okay? I knew she was physically strong but she was also “getting up there”. None of us had any idea how involved her treatment would be.