There is nothing more exciting than a huge snowstorm. The anticipation is so fun. And it’s all anyone can talk about.
Earlier in the week, the weather people started saying we would get a dusting of snow. No bigs. After all it is February in Chicago.
But by the time I flipped on the news on Tuesday night, the word blizzard was being used. I had to check the channel I had on. What the hell city were they talking about? Schools were already closing. What the what?
A few inches is one thing, a freaking blizzard is quite another. But you know me, I’m always prepared. I had a nice bottle of Kim Crawford that I was saving for an occasion such as this. And I had six loaves of bread in the freezer. We were ready.
So I’d have to get up a little earlier and get the kids all bundled. The snow wasn’t going to start til mid-morning and intensify as the day wore on. So the morning commute wouldn’t be the problem. The heart of the storm was supposed to hit at 4pm. What a mess.
To complicate things further, my Aunt Batsy was having knee replacement surgery and I had to go straight to the hospital after work. In a damn blizzard. I was not looking forward to it.
Sure enough the snow started coming down right when they said it would. There were white-out conditions everywhere. I had to start monitoring my water intake so that I wouldn’t have to pee into one of the diapers I keep in my car for emergency situations such as this. I also threw a little snack in my bag just in case I got stranded.
My kids were so excited at the thought of a snow day. I calmly explained that I have a better chance of fitting into my jeans after eating bread for three days in a row than they do of having a snow day. But they were excited nonetheless.
By midmorning the forecast was calling for one to twelve inches of snow. So I really felt like they had a handle on the situation. One to twelve inches? How is that even a forecast? That’s like a teacher giving a student a grade that says, somewhere between an “A” and a “F”. It’s a little vague.
But I wasn’t complaining. I had places to be. When I left work I didn’t even have to remove any snow from my car. Because there wasn’t any. And thankfully so, because my kids had taken my snow brush out of my car to brush their ride-on pony’s mane.
I flipped on the radio as soon as I got in the car. AM radio. Like my dad. All I needed was a Kool cigarette to complete the look.
The reports were urging people to stay off the roads. And people were listening. There was no traffic. I got to the hospital in record time. Aunt Batsy had not even gone in for the surgery yet. It was a miracle. It was like I was two steps ahead of the eye of this storm. Amazing.
Once I was at the hospital, I forgot all about the blizzard. There is something about being trapped in a twenty by twenty room with all of your relatives to really make you forget your troubles.
This is a scene I’m very familar with. Spending quality time with my extended family in the waiting room. This was my life for a few years and even though it’s been a while, it all came flooding right back.
The same jokes that were told ten years ago were still being told. The group text messages were out of control.
Me: They are giving her a spinal. Then she’ll go back to surgery. I’ll update when she’s out.
Them: Why is she getting a spinal? Is she out of surgery yet? What floor are you on? Where did you park? Any updates? What kind of soup do they have in the cafeteria? What room will she be in?
I finally dozed off for a few minutes. But I was startled awake by the ringing of my uncle’s cellular device. It was so loud. I was so scared.
After listening to an even louder convo on his phone, I comment on what a lovely ringtone he has. He was flattered. He proudly displayed his phone and said, can you believe I got this for ninety-nine cents? Yes. Yes I can.
Turns out my uncle has to run an errand. I don’t ask any questions. Especially when he hands me Aunt Batsy’s teeth for safe keeping. Of course he had Aunt Batsy’s teeth in his pocket. And of course I now had them in my purse.
This is when Shelly comes in. Like a perfect tag team. We head on down to the cafe to get some dinner. With Aunt Batsy’s teeth. The soup was lobster bisque.
By the time we get back to the waiting room, more family has joined us. So for two hours we sat staring at each other. Taking selfies. Talking about where we all parked. Debating the fastest ways to get back to said cars. Discussing a little politics. You really get to know people in a waiting room.
There is something so comforting about being marooned with your family in a hospital waiting room. Some of my favorite memories with my brothers are the times we spent waiting for news about our parents. I think it was the most real time we ever spent with each other. And even though both my parents ended up dying, I wouldn’t trade that time with my family for anything.
Finally, Aunt Batsy was out of surgery and in her own room. We got to see her to say goodnight. It was a relief to know she made it through surgery.
I learned a lot from this experience. First, Aunt Batsy taught me a very valuable lesson. Never lie about your weight to the anesthesiologist. Second, carrying someone else’s teeth around in your purse isn’t nearly as weird as you’d think it would be. And last, weather people have no freaking clue what the hell they’re talking about. We never did get any snow.