Today we are snowed in. Now, that is not to say that if we really wanted to, we couldn’t get out. We could. Three inches of snow is not that great of a deterrent to the determined. But we are, at the moment, content to stay inside and drink good tea and burn spring scented incense. The other day I was coming out of the store, and a man coming out the door with me said, “it’s only 90 days to spring,” and I thought, yes it is. We should take time to enjoy every season because we never know if we will see another the same way. Two families very close to me are finding that out, right now.
Christmas Day the father of two long-time friends passed away suddenly. The 85-year-old widower had several rental houses in town, and every Christmas eve he enjoyed taking candy to them and wishing all of them a Merry Christmas. Halfway through the task, he slipped and hit his head and decided to finish the candy delivering the next day. He went home, went to bed, and about 1 a.m. called an ambulance because he was having a heart attack. On the say to the hospital, he went into cardiac arrest, but they brought him back. After they entered the ER, his heart stopped again and he could not be revived.
As luck would have it, all his grandchildren, great grandchildren and his son and daughter were in town for Christmas or within an easy flight or road trip of home. As they laid their grandfather to rest, I’m sure many of them wondered if they’d ever come together all at once like this, again. The common thread that bound them all has now been cut.
Families today are like tapestries sewn onto other tapestries, a crazy quilt of broken alliances and reformed alliances, and conjoined pieces of life fabric, sometimes in surprising combinations and hues.
But wait – the story has even more tragedy. The daughter’s youngest son lives in a western state, and his father and cousin decided to drive him and his girlfriend home after the funeral. New Year’s Eve, after midnight, their van collided with an oil tanker near Amarillo, killing the father and cousin and sending the woman’s son to the hospital in critical condition. The girlfriend was more or less unharmed. At about the same time, south in Austin, Texas, the woman’s best friend was informed that her ex-husband, dying of cancer, had breathed his last. North in Amarillo, her friend’s son now is recovering, after surgeries to remove a spleen and a kidney. And I, a friend to all the people involved, wondered how I got out of this one. I know, that is selfish. But if a common thread does indeed flow through all of us, how is it that I did not personally share in that tragic few days. Or, should I be looking over my shoulder, wonderfing the grim reaper is coming for me or mine, and it just hasn’t arrived for me yet.
Meanwhile, here on the farm, we are snowed in today. I have a dutch oven filled with smothered pork chops in the oven, and on the counter three loaves of my mother-in-law’s bread is rising for the last time. This is a day worth remembering, one for the record books. I’m trying to cherish it as long as I can before it fades away.