Even Hardy New Englanders Have Fear

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“Up to 18 inches of snow will fall over the next 12 hours.”

That’s this morning’s big news. Even for hardy New Englanders, that’s a BIG storm. A really big storm. A really, really big storm. In meteorological terms – a “Snow Bomb.” Our local forecaster notes that this term has not been used in over 40 years because these conditions have not arisen in that same amount of time.

Yesterday afternoon, I received a somewhat urgent call from Mom:

Will you be going to the store today? I need some things before the storm comes.

Yes. What do you need?

Thinking she would rattle off all the basic necessities – bread, milk and eggs – Mom replied:

Well, I’ll need a container of cream... (I get that... who can withstand a storm without cream?), and I’ll need two packs of muffins... (another obvious storm necessity...), and one cooked chicken... (ahh... an actual necessity...)

I’m not minimizing Mom’s concerns, but the reality is that she just went shopping with her helper on Friday and has more groceries than she’ll use in a month. When I return from the market, I am relatively confident Mom’s refrigerator will have 2-3 unopened cartons of cream, multiple forms of “muffins” (English.... chocolate chip... blueberry... etc.) and probably, the chicken soup she made from the cooked chicken I brought four days ago.

My job is not to question Mom’s reasoning, but to fulfill her minimal requests whenever possible – not always with a smile, but, nonetheless – I get the job done.

Mom’s been glued to her TV all day, so she’s acutely aware of the impending doom headed our way... each forecaster confirming the dire predictions of the next... their voices getting louder and their faces more animated with each proclamation.

Hence, the groceries.

And, I remind myself that Mom has not experienced a New England winter in many years. Usually, by this time, she’s comfortably situated in her “little home” in Florida. But this year is the first that she can no longer make the arduous trip - even with my assistance.

Putting Mom’s (minimal) groceries away, I hear the TV doomsayers myself, and begin catastrophizing my own scene. We’re down to ¼ tank of oil and the doomsayers are predicting a shortage. So, we’ll be oil-less during the ‘Noreast Snow Bomb... all electrical power will be lost... and we will freeze and starve (not necessarily in that order)... the end result being certain death.

I reign myself in and get a grip. I’m a New Englander after all.

When I take my shoes off (metaphorically...) and put my 91 year old mother’s on, I can understand her fear and concerns:

·         My daughter won’t be able to get to me (I’ll starve...)

·         The paramedics and firefighters won’t be able to respond to my Life Alert (I’ll die before they get in...)

·         It may be days before I can leave my house (and I have nothing to do since my daughter took sweepstaking away from me...)

·         My home helper and driver won’t be able to come this week (and I’ll have nothing to do since my daughter took sweepstaking away from me...)

Looking at things through her eyes, I understand Mom’s unspoken fears.

The head of the storm is coming, and the wind is picking up. Windows are rattling, trash cans are blowing and snow is coming down. Hard. One thing is clear to me today – I’ll need to keep the pathways to Mom’s doors open - from the front, and from my back door. And, maybe today would be a good day to do the gingerbread house we bought for Christmas.

Emily Gaffney