Thursday, January 27, 2011

Clearing the Path

Last night's Thunder Snow dropped 16 inches of very heavy, very wet snow upon my area. When I woke up this morning it was beautiful. The trees were bending almost in half under the weight of the snow. It was pure white everywhere you looked.

But there was little time to enjoy it. We needed my parents road and parking area cleared so the ambulance could transport mom to inpatient hospice. She needed to get there. It was time.

My two nephews, 10 and 16, were outside even before me to begin shoveling. At first I just stood there, overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of where to begin.

"Just start shoveling!", the 10 year old hollered at me.

Sixteen new fresh inches on top of the 6 inches already on the ground from last weeks storm. Where do we dump our over-full shovels?

Notice the snow is higher than the car.
Yet the sidewalk and street are clear.
It was hard work but everyone
pitched in to help.
The mounds of snow we cleared lining the sidewalk and parking lot are almost as tall as me.

As we were working up a sweat in the cold temperatures, the neighbors began drifting out to see for themselves. One of the men on the street told me not to bother, that once the plow came down the street we'd have to start all over again anyway.

No, we have to keep shoveling. We need to get mom out.

Soon word began to spread, and almost the whole street was out shoveling with us. At one point we realized the snowplow wasn't coming because our street was literally snowed in. No one could get in or out past the huge snow drifts that were blocking the way.

So little by little, shovel by shovel, we moved the snow.

The ambulance arrived right on schedule and immediately got stuck on one small patch we thought was out of the way. No one needed asked for help, everyone just started shoveling around the ambulance's tires and throwing salt down for him to drive on.

And then the neighbors disappeared. I don't know if the task was done so they moved on, or if they left to let mom preserve her last bit of dignity as she was wheeled out of her home for the last time.

But her path was prepared with the love of the neighborhood she lived in for almost 40 years. The kids that I played with as a child, that she was room mother to a long time ago, are now adults living here. They, and their children, helped clear the way for her.

My nephew left before the ambulance wheeled mom out. He couldn't watch. That's ok. His final gift to her was complete.

We've all done everything we could to make mom's transition as smooth and pain free as possible. I don't know of any other way to say I love you.


  1. This was utterly beautiful. Thank you, I'm crying tears of love for your Mom and your family.

  2. I'm with Meredith--tears and all. What a gorgeous act of love and common humanity. Continued love to you!

  3. So beautiful how a neighborhood joins together. I am crying reading this too. Sending love and hugs.

  4. Ok, following suit with Meredith and Anna, this brought tears to my eyes. Lots of love for you, your family, and wonderful neighbors!

  5. wow.. what a powerful post! thank you so much for sharing! We too had to dig out stuck trucks with our neighbors but for such different reasons. You described the urgency and the power of it beautifully. Sending you love

  6. This was a very moving description of a beautiful act from a neighbourhood. My thoughts fly with you and your family.