Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Winter's Bone Structure

In the midst of winter, I finally learned
that within me there lay an invincible summer.
~Albert Camus

Snow this morning on the way in to work and I once again recall the harsh winter weather of 16 years ago.  

My 81-year old mom had been a widow for two and a half years. Except for some housekeeping and errand help, she lived alone in the home she and Dad had occupied since 1983.

I lived 37 miles from Portland and the East County area where I worked and where Mom lived. I spoke with her daily and at least twice a week stopped by after work to visit.

That particular winter set records for freezing rain and record-setting snowfall. Power lines fell and large trees toppled—especially in the wind-tunnel-like area where my mother lived.

When TV news informed us that all power was out in her section of Portland, I packed some clothing and made plans to stay with Mom as long as necessary. “…as long as necessary” turned out to be six days.

I nailed blankets and tarps across the hallways, lit candles, turned on the gas fireplace and pulled Mom's recliner up close to the warmth.  When she settled in I wrapped her in blankets from the bed. She took it all in stride (she was a North Dakota gal, after all!).

Much about those days is sweetly memorable to me; the two of us talked and laughed, reminisced and remembered—at times tearfully, most often with shared delight.

Outside: A white, completely silent landscape. Inside: Mom wrapped head to toe in blankets, firelight flickering across her beautiful, serene face, outlining the sharp bone structure; the skin of her small and delicate hands stretched taut across blue veins, reminding me of a baby bird just out of the shell.

People don't notice if it's winter or summer 
when they're happy. 
~Anton Chekov