Have Fun While We’re Gone.

When I was a child, on snow days, we would get bundled up and my dad, the kids and the dog would all trudge half a mile or so to the nearest hill.

We went sledding.

I thought sledding was spectacular. I’d zip down that hill with the wind whipping my hair into my face, squealing in delight all the way. Sometimes, to add to the fun, the dog would chase the sled and bark, too.

Eventually I’d slow to a complete stop – never getting off even one inch before I needed to – then I’d hop up excitedly to run up the hill and do it again.

I can remember, on those days, as I headed out the door, watching my mom at the back door. She didn’t go sledding with us, claiming instead that she was going to clean up the kitchen or do laundry or some other nonsense.

She looked so sad, standing there, waving to us as we made our way through the backyard tundra. And I felt so bad, just leaving her there, knowing that she’d be missing the greatest thrill the winter had to offer.

Decades later, when we were hit by the Great Blizzard of 2016, I had a sore throat, and what appeared to be a cold. During the worst day of snow – when we got upwards of 25 inches – I developed a fever, and spent the day on the couch. Bill and Dylan did all the shoveling, since Great Blizzard Day was also Shane’s birthday – making him exempt from work.

Two days later, when the roads were maybe almost clear enough, Bill offered to take the boys sledding.

I was feeling better, but not well. I didn’t feel much like sliding down a crowded hill, then trudging back up through 25 inches of snow. Unlike when I was a child, we have to drive to find a good sledding hill – and I didn’t particularly want to drive in the madness, either.

So the kids bundled up and got ready to go with Bill.

Shane gave me a big hug on the way out. “Have fun while we’re gone,” he said. There was a touch of sadness in his voice – as if he thought, she’d have so much more fun with us.

The boys muddled through getting ready – Dylan late to come downstairs, Shane forgetting to use the bathroom before he put on his ski pants. I helped by making sure they had dry ski socks and fleece shirts. I made sure my husband remembered his gloves.

Half-crazed with both anxiety and excitement, they pulled away. And I stood at the back door and waved.

Then I closed the door, remembering my own mom waving from the back door.

I thought, Gee, no wonder she didn’t want to go.


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