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By Rosemary

The original version of this story was copyrighted in 2005, and 2006.
                                                                                                                                      
It was the morning in late January of 1967; Janie was attempting
to wake up her twin sister Rusty.
 
"Wake up, it's snowing outside!" Janie exclaimed as she
was excitedly nudging her sister with her pudgy little hands.
 
Rusty, who was still a bit drowsy, climbed out of bed and soon
followed her sibling.  Immediately, they walked softly downstairs
to the giant bay window to see what was occurring outside.
 
To their astonishment, the snow was falling steadily. This certainly
was a remarkable sight. The consistent flurries had been tumbling
down since earlier that morning, while they were each enjoying a
cozy slumber. This was a drastic change to the unusually balmy
weather they had recently enjoyed.
 
They decided to communicate in whispers. Their grandmother,
who lived with them, was ill with cancer at the time. She was
sleeping serenely, and the girls were mindful not to disturb her.
 
The twins immediately hurried in silence upstairs to their bedroom,
and began getting dressed for nursery school.  Usually, the little
yellow school bus picked them up at the same time every
morning.
 
It was a thrilling time for them both, as they were getting closer
to their fourth birthday. Unexpectedly, there was a knock at
their bedroom door.
 
"Hi girls, may I come in?" their mother asked.
 
"Sure Mom, come in," they both replied.
 
She entered and sat down on one of the beds. I just received
a phone call from your teacher.  Due to the weather, school
is being canceled today," their mom informed them.
 
"Why don't you both nap for a few more hours," she
recommended, as she stood back up and strolled gently
out of their room.
 
As hard as they attempted to snooze, they were both too
energized and spent this time making plans for later that
day.
 
"Hey, why don't we build a snowman?" Rusty suggested
aloud.
 
They assumed the snowfall would cease eventually, and
they would be able to have fun outside in their backyard.
 
Hours thereafter, they had awoken once again. To their shock,
the snowfall had not curtailed. They both revisited the same
window from earlier before.
 
This time, the accumulation had become higher, far above their
carrot-red ringlets. When they opened the curtain, they could no
longer see outside beyond the wintry clutter. They were simply
too small in stature to see above the pasty looking flakes.
 
The twins immediately leaped into the kitchen where their mother
was talking with their grandmother, who was sitting at the table,
accompanied by her nurse.
 
She was positioned in a comfortable chair, bundled up with blankets.
Their grandma's smile would broaden whenever she would see her
two little granddaughters.  
 
They both ran over to her, and gave her a big hug. They were aware
they needed to be more careful around granny, as she had become
physically weaker from her disease.  
 
"Good morning, it looks like the two of you will be staying home
with us today," their grandmother stated with a gentle grin.
 
"Yeah, I guess it is just too icky outside," Janie remarked.
 
"Girls, the weather has become so dreadful I want you both
to stay inside today," heir mother cautioned.
 
"Look on the bright side, at least this will give us all an opportunity
to spend some time together today," their grandmother stated
happily.  She then added, "Why don't we all watch some programs
together in a little while."
 
Later that morning, the twins enjoyed watching television
with their granny.  During this period, they viewed their favorite
shows together.  Sadly, they began to notice how tired she
had become.
 
"Kids, why don't you come back later today, it looks like your
grandma needs to rest now," her caretaker advised.
 
"Okay, we'll see you later grandma," Rusty amiably commented.
They both gave their grandparent a kiss on her cheek and left
the room.
 
The twins accepted the present circumstances, which resulted from
the knowledge they had been provided with at the time. They spent
the remainder of the morning, and early afternoon, frolicking together
with the typical immaturity of their youth.
 
They utilized this interval by dressing their dolls, coloring with their
crayons, as well as reading aloud with simplistic interpretations from
their picture books. They each took turns pretending to be the teacher.
 
Then by mere coincidence, they overheard their parents engaging
in an important conversation.
 
"Al, I am worried about all of this snow.  What happens if my mother
needs to go to the hospital again, and the ambulance is unable to
gain access to our driveway?" their mother voiced with anxiety.
 
"Well, hopefully, this storm will end soon, and I will be able to find
someone to help us," their father glumly asserted.
 
He then added, "I've already started making calls. Unfortunately, it
is going to be very difficult to find a company to provide this type of
service now. I have placed our name on all of the waiting lists in
the area," he confirmed with a tone of defeat.
 
As the hours passed, the chilly disarray outside failed to halt.
Due to the situation, their dad closed his business for the day.
Traveling to work would be too daunting a task for everyone.
 
The day was no longer entertaining for the twins. They had
begun to comprehend the panic, and worry, which had
befallen their family.
 
By the next morning, the snowfall had finally concluded.
Since it was Friday, their father's business, as well all of the
schools in the area, still remained closed.
 
What had amassed on the ground was beyond comprehension.

Then suddenly, they noticed their father was preparing to venture
outdoors.
 
"Hey dad, where are you going?" Rusty inquired inquisitively.
 
"Hi honey, I am going to try and wave down a snowplow
somehow.  We need to keep the driveway clear, should we
need to call for assistance in order to help your grandma,"
he stated logically.

"Can we help?" Janie begged.

"Sorry, the snow is simply too high for the two of you to leave
the house today.  I fear that I would not be able to see the two
of you out there," their father explained.
 
There was such a large volume of arctic litter on the ground;
their dad had difficulty opening the door.  He had to shovel
snow away from the inside, before he could even attempt
to journey outside.
 
He walked clumsily as his feet proceeded drudgingly in the
miserable frigid hodgepodge, which engulfed the property.

The lower portion of his legs sunk deeper as he attempted
each step.  After a while, he found his way to the center
of their driveway.
 
For a short time, their father, stood patiently with his feet
buried into the snow.

He was attempting to find help, while at the same time
trying to maintain his balance with the bottom portion of his
boots hidden within the chilly milky-colored mishmash. Trudging
forward in this frosty jumble was a strenuous task.
 
When he came back inside, he was covered in snow.
"Hey dad, you look like a giant snowman," Rusty teased.
 
"I know, the weather has shown us no mercy," their father
voiced with hopelessness.
 
After they all consumed a hearty lunch together, he went back
outside and continued his pathetic attempt to find a snowplow.
 
Now his attitude was sounding desperate.
 
Finally, their dad was surprised when miraculously a plain
green-colored snow plowing truck suddenly appeared across
the street.

As a result of the weather, the usual stream of traffic
was nonexistent that day.
 
The red-headed stranger inside the vehicle appeared to be a
younger man in his early thirties.  His overall physical
characteristics seemed to be typical of a person with his hair
color.
 
He stuck his head out of the window, and yelled from his
vehicle in their dad's direction.

"Hey, I see your driveway can use a clearing," he communicated
pleasantly with an Irish accent.
 
"Yeah, I am willing to pay any amount you want!  My mother-in-law
is a cancer patient.  We must have this whole area cleared, in case
we need to call for help. You name the price," their father voiced
in a vulnerable plea.
 
"Don't worry about that now, we can negotiate later," the man
replied kindly.
 
"Thank you so much. Oh by the way, please call me Al," their
father requested cordially.
 
The snowplow operator did not mention his own name.
 
For the next few hours, the driver in the larger vehicle attempted to
shove the excess snow aside with his plow.  He allowed their dad to sit
along side of him inside the truck where it was warmer, while he was in
the process of carrying out this tedious undertaking.
 
Unfortunately, there was such an overabundance of pearly-colored
winter mess; it was a very complex chore.  Finally, the work was
completed.
 
"Wow, you really did a great job for us," their father expressed in
a grateful manner.
 
"Why don't you come into the house, and enjoy some hot coca
and a sandwich with us before you leave," their dad offered.

"No thanks, Al, I still have other parkways to tackle today," he
graciously declined.

"I understand," their father conceded sincerely.  He then asked,
"How much do I owe you for all of this work?
 
"Well, let’s see, I will charge you five dollars," the man calculated.
 
Their father then cheerfully countered, "You deserve more than
five dollars.  At least allow me to pay you twenty-five."
 
"If you insist, that is fine with me," the stranger chuckled.
He then cautiously drove his vehicle directly up to the front
door.
 
Their dad then added, "Let me go into the house and get some
money from my wallet.  Also, I would like to keep one of your
business cards on hand, so we can hire you in the future."
 
"Well, I do not have any business cards available at this time.
I still have not decided on a company name yet.  Why don't
you bring a pen, and sheet of paper with you, when you come
back with the cash," the young man suggested.
 
"Okay, I will be right back. Don't go away!" their father eagerly
emphasized, as he climbed out of the truck and marched carefully
into their suburban dwelling.
 
A few minutes later, their dad returned with the currency.
He also brought along a pencil, and pad of paper.
 
To his shock, the cordial fellow had departed before their father
had an opportunity to compensate him. He stood outside feeling
bewildered.  He waited for a few more minutes, and then decided
to walk back into the house.
 
"You'll never guess what just happened Margaret, that nice guy
who helped us left before I could pay him," their father vocalized
with puzzlement.
 
"Well, maybe he had to go someplace else, and couldn't wait.
I am certain he will be back," their mother expressed assuredly.
 
"Yeah, I suppose so. I will just place his earnings by the door,
so when he rings the doorbell I will know where it is," their father
stated.
 
The young gentleman did not return that afternoon.
 
A few days later, their grandmother experienced another relapse
and their father frantically called for an ambulance.  Luckily, because
the crucial area had been cleared, the van was able to drive up to
the main doorway without interference.
 
Immediately, the healthcare professionals rang the doorbell and
were led inside by their dad.

Their grandmother's body was covered with a thick quilt, as she
was lying comfortably on the couch.  Her nurse, and their mother,
were both sitting beside her.
 
"Girls why don't you both go upstairs and play," their dad urged.
 
The twins adhered accordingly to their father's instructions. The
frightening words, personified the behavior of the grown-ups
involved in this predicament.  This indicated the unspoken
severity of the latest emergency.
 
However; unbeknown to the adults, the twins
were observing all of the commotion which was
taking place on the first floor, from above the
staircase.   
 
The two youngsters had become inquiringly attached to this
sudden matter like magnets. The event, which was presently
unraveling before them, was obvious, and did not require
an explanation.                                                                                   
 
Like most children, they had intuitively begun to sense the
'air of worry,' which surrounded the situation.
 
After their grandmother was gently carried onto the
stretcher, the paramedics asked some routine questions.
They then began the process of preparing the patient for
transport to the hospital.
 
As they were arranging to leave, their father had an idea.

"Margaret, I will ride in the ambulance with the attendants,
so you will be able to remain here with the children," he
decided.   

 "No Al, I want to go with you," their mother replied.                                                                                             
 
"Well, if we both go, who will stay with the twins?’ their dad
questioned realistically.
 
Suddenly their grandmother's caretaker tendered a solution
to their predicament.
 
"Why don't you both ride inside the ambulance. Since there
are several qualified staff available, your mother will receive
excellent care. I will stay here and watch the twins,"
she offered sympathetically.
 
"Are you sure?" their mother asked with slight trepidation.
 
"Yes, I am certain. It would be too difficult for you to attempt
to find a babysitter now," the nurse pointed out with candor.
 
"Gee thanks, we really value your help," their father expressed
as he humbly accepted this favor.
 
"Don't worry, I will stay here with your girls," she reassured them
soothingly.
 
After they departed, she focused her attention on the two startled
little beings standing before her, and uttered, "Why don't we all go
to the kitchen and have something to eat."
 
The twins were very fond of the caregiver, as she was always friendly
and pleasant to be around.  She was clearly a kindhearted person.

She was a slim woman in her early fifties. Her soft and untainted
manner, was accompanied by her thick grayish locks, and her
affable smile.
 
She decided to cook their favorite meal, hot dogs, with baked
beans.  After they finished dining, she encouraged them to
draw vibrant 'get well' pictures for their grandma.
 
Hours later, the telephone rang. The nurse immediately
answered it with uneasiness.  It was their dad.  Since the
twins were in the next room, they could overhear only
portions of the comments being spoken.
 
After she hung the receiver up, she walked into the room
where Rusty and Janie were working on their art projects.
 
"I have good news. It looks like your grandmother is doing
much better now. Your parents are going to remain at the
hospital for the time being, and will return in a cab tonight.
I will stay here with the two of you," she lovingly reiterated.
 
Later in the evening, the siblings were preparing for bed,
when their mom and dad arrived home. Their parents walked
directly towards their bedroom to discuss their grandmother's
progress.
 
"Hi girls, I am glad you are both still awake. It looks like your
granny’s condition has improved a bit. However, as the situation
looks now, she may need to be in the hospital for a little longer.
The doctors are not able to give us an exact time frame
just yet," their father tactfully informed.
 
"When can we visit her?" Janie asked.
 
"I'm sorry, it is against the rules. The two of you are too
young to visit a patient.  Nevertheless, do not fret; let's hope
she will be home very soon.  Tomorrow, I will bring the
artwork you both have created for her to the hospital,"
their daddy assured.
 
During the next few weeks, their mother, father, and the
nurse, each took turns visiting their grandma.

Since they had not heard from the nice man in
the green truck, they had no choice but to hire another
snow plowing company for the remainder of the season.

The caretaker was still living with them, and had become
a very familiar fixture.  She had become almost like another
member of their family unit.     

Then one day, several weeks later, the front door opened
and they noticed their father was carefully steering a heavy
wheelchair through the doorway.                                                                                                

It was grandma!  The twins bounced over to the fragile
elderly woman to embrace her. They each hugged her softly.
She was finally home.

"Why don't the two of allow your grandmother to settle
back into her room, and you can both visit her a bit later,"
their mom instructed.
 
They were both delighted to see that their only
grandparent was home again.
 
However, they noticed that she appeared to be much
thinner. Her complexion seemed to be almost as pale
as the preceding snow outside.
 
Usually, her skin tone was very much like theirs, fair but
with a light pinkish tint. She seemed to be quieter, as there
was a hint of fear etched upon her face.
 
Physically she was merely a fraction of the slightly plump,
and outgoing creature, she had been previously.
 
Soon after, the twins were relaxing with their granny as
they were watching television with her. They both snuggled
up against her, as they all sat on the sofa treasuring this
special time together.
 
"We missed you a lot when you were in the hospital grandma,"
Rusty expressed in a childlike fashion.
 
"I missed the two of you more than I can say.  However, I really
cherished looking at all of those colorful pictures you both had
drawn for me.  Your gifts really cheered me up," she thoughtfully
acknowledged.
 
Unfortunately, this reunion did not last long.  Within days,
granny's condition continued to worsen.  She was in the hospital
yet again.
 
It seemed as though their reunions were becoming increasingly
'short lived', as she needed to be readmitted not long after she
would arrive back home
 
In mid-February, their grandmother was unable to attend their
fourth birthday party. The celebratory ribbons, goodies, and gifts,
could not camouflage the fact that one treasured member of their
family was visibly absent from the partaking of their celebration.
 
Her caretaker was not around the house as frequently. The twins
were allowed to communicate with their grandma over the phone
occasionally, while she was away.

Her physical presence was truly missed.        

They designed multicolored paintings for her with the
watercolor sets they had received from their birthday. Their
parents continued visiting their grandmother in rotating shifts.      

They had also begun to notice some of the 'other relatives'
who suddenly started spending time with them. The extended
family members also made their own appearances at the
hospital.   

Although the twins enjoyed socializing with everybody, they   
sensed the reality of the situation with sorrow.  

Five months after the blizzard, their grandmother passed
away peacefully in her sleep at the hospital.

Her funeral took place on a pretty June day.

Their home became a sanctuary of baskets of fruits, and
beautiful flowers.                                                                                     

As Rusty gazed upon the floral arrangements she
blurted aloud, "I hope grandma is happy."
 
"Yes honey, I believe she is. I know your grandmother
is in a very good place right now, where she has been
reunited with your grandfather.  He was the love of her life,"
their mom delicately explained.
 
Everyone was very saddened by her death. However,
they were grateful to the warmhearted person, who  
helped their dad that one frightful January day.
 
The 'sympathetic individual' made it possible for
the ambulatory workers to come to their grandmother's
aid, in order for her to receive the proper medical
attention.

Plowing the driveway in advance for the paramedics
had saved valuable time, which was crucial in prolonging
their grandma's existence during the last months
of her life.

To their family, this had become precious beyond
explanation.
 
The helpful stranger never returned for his payment.

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