Yesterday I spent some of the afternoon reading social media posts from EVERYONE I know locally calling out in despair about, you guessed it, more fudging snow. Our whole province has become a bunch of whiners just begging for spring weather already. Can you blame us? This is the 5th time that every few days after finally it’s all melted we get another blast (thanks Alberta) that makes it look like Santa’s workshop should be around the corner because really only the North Pole should have white fluffy snow this late in the year!
While scrolling through pictures, comments and rants I came upon an article about how on the same day 19 years ago, we had “the blizzard of the century”. A group of us started our “I remember….”s about what we were all doing at the time and it really got me thinking. That day was the start of it, the first real sign my body was different, weaker, ill.
“As parts of southern Manitoba brace for a winter storm, there is a haunting echo from nearly 20 years ago.
On April 5, 1997, a spring snowfall began, then intensified with strong winds that impeded visibility. Over the next 24 hours, the storm dropped as much as 50 centimetres of snow on the Red River Valley (48 cm in Winnipeg).
Every highway and school in southern Manitoba was closed. Drivers abandoned snowbound vehicles on city roadways. At the Winnipeg airport, planes were grounded for almost 24 hours, trapping hundreds of passengers.
The snow, heavy with moisture from spring temperatures, snapped hydro lines and caused the roof of the Sears warehouse in Winnipeg’s North End to collapse.”
I don’t know if it was the storm or if it was just really crappy luck but after the worst of the snow had fallen and we were literally stuck inside our house, I stopped being able to breathe. My lungs felt like they weighted 100 lbs, they felt like they were already full of air but I couldn’t get it out and couldn’t get any more in. I was panicking and of course so was my dad.
Of course as a 9 year old I didn’t really think about how the snow, wind and lack of visibility was a problem, but I’m sure he was. After a desperate call to 911 and being told that there wasn’t much they could do at the moment because of where we lived, the snow and the fact that the few paramedic vehicles adaptable to that kind of weather were already busy with more emergent ( because I was still conscious) call outs, we might be waiting for a while.
My usually patient father decided that was no good, after all the hospital really was only a few (more like 20) blocks away and he’d be damned if he was going to watch his little girl suffocate on air. He marched through the knee-hip deep mounds of snow between our and our neighbors houses with my brother on his back while I waited on the deck. I don’t know what he would have done if they weren’t home to watch him, thank goodness they were. Then it was my turn. On his back I got.
It’s funny how so many parts of my childhood have fainted into a blurry mishmosh of vague memories but this particular time I can practically recall every detail. How the snow kept freezing to my tears, how fast my heart was beating against my dads back, the sound of him also huffing and puffing as he waded his way slowly through the drifts. It was dark and scary and I think this must have been the first time I ever thought to myself “I think I’m going to die.”
After what I am told was almost an hour we were about half way there (a walk that in the summer months even my little brother and I could have made easily in 10 minutes) my dad started to really worry we wouldn’t make it. This of course being before every person and their dog had a cell phone to try and find help. I think this was the moment that HE started to think “Oh no, my little girl is going to die out here.”
Miracles do happen though. As we both sat there, him catching his breath and me, gasping for any little bit of air I could through the bitter cold wind we saw a set of headlights coming down the road. Up until this point, everything was dark. All the other vehicles were wiped away, covered so deep in snow you couldn’t see they were there. A big black truck slowly pulled up beside us. The window rolled down on the passenger side and a man’s voice yelled asking if we needed help.
At that point my memory goes. I have been told what happened, but a mix of anxiety, lack of oxygen, the heat of the vehicle and the rush of the following events all add up to me remembering it more though how my dad tells it than any actual recollection of my own.
It was my first asthma attack. My first medical emergency at all, unfortunately they’ve just kept adding up since. If I could pin point when chronic illness first impacted my life, it was right then.
So while everyone else is laughing at their hard times getting their car out or being stranded at work for a night my dad and I have a pretty unique story to tell about our experience with the blizzard of the century.
The funny (and eerie) thing is, this week over the years has had a lot of other big events happen.
In 2009 only a wee couple months into our relationship Mr. Mango and I found ourselves living together. The start of the dynamic duo by way of his roommate kicking him to the curb. All of a sudden I went from single mom of Buddy recovering still from whacked out ex syndrome. Him from his own case of the same thing.
In 2012 my water spontaneously broke at 34 weeks pregnant resulting in back and forth hospital trips and Little Dude being born a week later (at almost 35 weeks).
It’s not all bad, scary and messed up though.
In 2014 after surviving our first small town winter we had a kick ass Canadian style barbecue.
As you can see, the snow is almost as tall as Mr. Mango… And he’s standing on the deck about 4 feet from where the snow starts on the ground. I guess it doesn’t make this year look so bad after all!