Time Holds You In Its Hands

Snow came down harder and harder, over and over, day after day.  Each morning I looked out the little guest room window I shared with my father, I groaned at the site, wondering how the van driver could get up the long sidewalk, now buried under snow, to wheel my dad back to the van for dialysis a mile away.

View outside parent’s apartment

Seven days prior my mother called to say dad was in the hospital with double pneumonia.  At age eighty-five and failing kidneys, I made a quick decision to fly to Illinois and of course upon my arrival was the very first approaching winter snow storm in the Midwest.

Early the very next day, I drove to Quincy at Blessing hospital to see dad. The news was out the storm was on its way, blazing up through Oklahoma and hammering across Missouri to Quincy which sets right on the Mississippi River on the Illinois side. One of my cousins called at 11:00 a.m.to say the snow was falling one inch every fifteen minutes and to watch out the window. I sat by dad and chatted about anything he wanted to talk about or hear about, looking over my shoulder out the window which faced the river. Please let me have enough time to stay. Within a half hour of my phone call, I saw the white blanket of snow coming across the river and heading toward the hospital. It was a thick sheet of white. 

“Dad, I have to go, the snow has hit, and I can’t see more than three blocks’ from here. I need to stay ahead of it.” A nurse popped her head in, “You better hurry, it’s time!”

“No problem, no problem, I know you need to go, you get along.”  Dad was thin, gray, and reached for my hand. I kissed him and said I would be back as soon as possible. 

Living in Arizona, we do not see much snow, fast and furious, covering sidewalks, and city streets, burying cars within minutes. I drove the little Ford 4-wheel drive Ranger my brother loaned me through town onto the interstate. The roads were barely visible but I could see the sidewalks and stop lights. The right lane had a few tire tracks imprinted in the snow but quickly vanished. The further I drove, the harder the snow and the narrow tracks I followed disappeared. What aligned me to keep going was the snow had not yet stuck to the dead grass along the interstate and I measured the distance from the grass to my right tires to stay on the pavement at 45 mph as other motorists pulled off to the side. How much time would it take to get back to mom? I could see her glancing at her watch, straining through the curtains and the haze of snow. There were enough worries and concerns weighing down the hands of her clock.

I spun and skidded up a small incline, down shifted, and finally pulled in front of my parents’ small apartment. Time let me make it. Time gave me a break. Time allowed me to bring my dad home from the hospital on cleared roads three days later.

View from hospital window