My life always seems to come down to snow. It is a theme that runs through my little teacher-life, my little story-teller-life. Did you know that I was born during a blizzard? Mason City, Iowa was snowed in during the November blizzard of 1956 when I was born, on this date in the wee hours of the early morning. Some of my most vivid memories happened in the snow.
There was that night when I was eleven and snow was falling heavily as choir practice at the Methodist Church came to an end. The walk home was more difficult than I had anticipated when I started out. The entire front of me was plastered with snow as I leaned into the wind and trudged like some kind of plodding living snowman. I got as far as the Library on Main Street when Mrs. Stewart and Mrs. Kellogg called me into the library to thaw out. They called Mom and Dad to come the three blocks from home and pick me up. But Alicia Stewart was there. The most beautiful girl in all of Rowan, as far as my young heart was concerned. She sat in the row across from me at school. I am fairly certain that my Math grades were so poor mainly from the time I wasted watching her sharpen her pencils and turning the pages in her textbook. I had my Russian snow hat on that night and the ear flaps were pulled down. I had the little bill on the front of the cap pulled down to shield my eyes, and it was caked and dripping with snow as I entered the library.
I pounded off some of the caked snow and said, “Gee, I think it might be snowing outside.”
Alicia pulled up the bill of my cap and looked me right in the eye. “Michael, you are so funny,” she said. That smile she gave me that snowy night warmed my heart, and drove the cold out of even my frozen toes. I still keep the memory of that smile in my heart to this very day, in a drawer where nobody can find it, and I haven’t really ever told anybody about it until here and now.
And snow keeps coming back to find me, even now that I live in Texas where snow is much more of a rare thing. On February 14th, 2003 in Dallas we woke up to another heavy snow flurry.
The people I love most in the world were enthralled. My wife squealed like a little girl. She is from the Philippines and she told me she had never really seen the snow falling before that day. My three kids were awake and romping in the snow almost from first light. The gently falling snow was beautiful, though it was a bit damp and clumpy, falling like goose feathers from a pillow fight, and easily forming into snowballs. We built snow men in front of Tatang and Inang’s house (Filipino for grandpa and grandma). Dorin, Henry, and Cousin Sally were throwing snowballs and random handfuls of snow at me and each other for most of the morning. The Princess, barely walking and talking at that stage of her young life, ate snow and played in it until her bare hands were red and hurting. She threw a crying fit when we had to force her into the house to warm up her hands. Even pain couldn’t make her want to leave the snow behind. I never loved snow that much until I got to see it through their eyes.
I truly believe that one day in the near future the snow will come for me again. I will probably not be living in a place where snow is frequent, so it may not even be real snow. But it will come for me to take me away the same as it brought me to this life. Not real snow, but that obscuring snow that falls as your field of vision fills up with whiteness and purity and fades away. Being in poor health for several years now, I know that sort of snow all too well. I know it will be coming again. The magic of life comes and goes in the clear, cold beauty of snow. And all the warm tangles and troubles of life will be smoothed out under a blanket of pure, white, and cleansing snow.
Write me an epitaph that includes the snow;
He was born in a blizzard,
And he knew the secret of snow.