Saturday, January 9, 2010

Inconvenient Winter Wonderland

Old Man Winter has hit with a vengeance and sub-zero temperatures make life hazardous for all of us. Our entire country has been hit with record-breaking lows.

Caregivers must be vigilant to keep their loved ones with Alzheimer’s safe. My heart goes out to the caregiver in Nashville who put her 81-year-old husband to bed Sunday night and woke up to discover he had wandered outside. His frozen body was found in his own yard the next morning.

Here in the Midwest, our Christmas snow is still on the ground and added to on a regular basis. This winter wonderland is starting to inconvenience me. Our roads were graded to a thin layer of ice, and I drove the scenic, long route to work each morning to avoid the hill to west of my house.

The first time I had to drive on slick roads this year, snow whipped onto my windshield and the wind shaped snow into tall drifts that threatened to block the roads. I didn’t meet any cars and I figured there was a good reason they stayed home.

While I negotiated the slick roads, I thought about how competent and confident Jim was on snow and ice. When he was in the early stages of dementia, I still trusted him more than I trusted myself on the slick roads. I never had to drive on it until he could no longer drive.

My hands shook by the time I pulled into my garage, but the trip had gone without incident. Jim taught me well. I do know how to drive on bad roads. I know it is important to keep up momentum without driving too fast or too slow. It irritates me to be on a slick highway and have people whizzing around me in their pickups and SUVs going ten miles over the speed limit. They are not just flirting with disaster—they throw slush on my windshield.

Wednesday morning a winter storm warning was in effect. I packed my duffle bag with clothing and other essentials in case I couldn’t get home after work. It’s hard to know when meteorologists will get the forecast right, but it doesn’t take much snow and wind to blow giant drifts across our roads.

My mom called and asked me, “Are you snowed in?”

“Nope, I’m snowed out,” I said.

I spent two nights at Best Western. I’m not used to cleaning off my car in the mornings and misjudged just how long it takes. The inconvenience of cleaning my car was certainly much better than being stuck in a snowdrift.

When I got word that the snowplows had made it down our road, I came home last night. My brother-in-law, Terry, used the snow shovel to clear my driveway so I could get my car into the garage. Staying at the hotel was nice, but it sure feels good to be home.

Looking out my window, the pristine snowy scene is worthy of a Currier and Ives Christmas card. Instead of just enjoying it, I’m thinking of the inconvenience. Can I drive safely on the roads? Should I just relax and spend the day at home? Winter wonderland, beautiful to view, but not so great for driving.
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