A second unusual winter storm named Pax (Yeah, I don’t know when they started naming winter storms) blanketed my southern hometown of Charleston, SC with ice. Unusual is a rather mild word for this historic weather event. We typically deal with hurricanes and tropical storms, not ice storms. When we woke this morning, the ground was wet with rain, but everything above 2 feet was frozen. Icicles filled the tree branches where leaves once flourished. As time moved on so did the ice in the trees and bushes until everything was beautiful, yet frightening shade of white. Loud cracks and booms filled the day as branched broke and fell to ground shattering ice like broken glass on the ground. Reports of power outages began filling social media and the news. By early afternoon, we lost power at our house along with most of our friends in the area. Schools, business, and bridges closed for the second time in just a few weeks.
The magical wintery scene outside my window was stunning as well as alarming. As I sat and watched the trees and branches bending under the weight of ice and blowing wind, I thought about my mother. She spent most of her adult life in California and Nevada. She claimed and cherished our Native America heritage and loved to share her knowledge. When I lived in Nevada, we experience snowstorms frequently and ice storms from time to time. When ice would cover the landscape, my mother would remind me of the Native American story of “pogonip”. Pogonip is a Shoshone word meaning cloud or ice fog. They also refer to it as “white death”. The Shoshone know the dangers of people who become disoriented, get lost in the ice fog, and die from exposure. The early settlers believed they could inhale the small white crystals into their lungs causing death. The beauty of the high desert when it was covered in the white crystals and the stories, fascinated my mother.
In the next day or so, the white cover of ice will melt and the Winter Storm Pax will become a memory to share with family and friends. Each winter when the weather calls for snow or ice, we will talk about the year we had not one, but two icy winter storms. We will share pictures and memories, talk about the hours we spent without power in our houses, and debris covering our neighborhoods. We will even recall the beauty of a winter wonderland in our bit of the South.
The same thing happens when I think about my mother. I remember her life and share pictures and memories. I have been thinking about her more than usual the past couple of weeks. September of this year will mark six years since she passed away. I have often heard that grief touches grief; one grief event will trigger others. This week in the same year my mother passed away, my childhood friend’s husband died unexpectedly. Just a couple of weeks later, my best friend passed away unexpectedly, and a few weeks after that my childhood friend’s mother (my “other” mother) died.
The first part of March, I will be participating in an audition for LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER: CHARLESTON. Those chosen will bring their original, true accounts about motherhood to the stage. I haven’t finished my piece for the audition, but in preparing, my thoughts have turned to my mother, and to others who became “mothers” to me during my life. Just as I will with this year’s winter storms, I look back and remember those who touched my life, sharing them others and telling the stories one more time.