02 December 2010

Flashback Chicago

It snowed today in Boise. We often get snow in winter, though not much. In fact, the average annual precipitation for southwest Idaho is 10 inches. So, imagine my surprise when I was awakened by a “snow advisory” text message from Boise State University at 0630 this morning, announcing that classes were canceled. Seven inches of snow had fallen through the night, and Boise was covered in wintry splendor. Because my husband is traveling on business, and the children were otherwise occupied, it was left to me to clear the driveway and sidewalks. It was no easy feat—the driveway was covered by nearly two feet of drifted snow, wet and very heavy. Our yellow Lab, Laci, who loves leaping in snowdrifts, made the task even more challenging.

With hours of work ahead of me, my mind began to “drift,” and I flashed back to my childhood years in northern Illinois, where the snow seemed to arrive in September and didn’t melt until April. I grew up near Chicago, the middle child of a large Irish Catholic family. Money was tight, and my brother and I were always hatching up schemes to get rich quick. Believe me, although our schemes were inventive, they fell far short of reaping a financial windfall. But, we were industrious. Besides, serving others was part of our DNA, and we loved the snow. For us, snow meant cash in our pockets. Cha-ching! So, bring it on. With shovels in hand, we roamed the neighborhood. For a few dollars, we would clean a driveway clean as a whistle. For a few more, we would uncover a car parked along the street and, for nothing other than the thrill of it, would push a car stuck in the snow. We were hardy and opportunistic.

Today, as I struggled to remove mounds and mounds of snow, I wondered more than once, Where are today’s modern version of my brother and me? I would have paid a small fortune to have a strapping teenager show up with shovel in hand ready to make a few bills. He or she wouldn’t even need to provide the shovel, as I would have readily let them use mine. With school canceled, I thought that maybe—just maybe—there would be at least one industrious kid looking to earn some money. But it was not to be. I guess they had better things to do. As for me, as I reflected back on my childhood and watched our Lab prance through the snow, our driveway and walks were clear before I knew it. I’m going to pay myself with a nap!

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.