Snow removal makes a man

Stephanie Ziebarth

Josiah is 15 and quite responsible. He has great skills and a good work ethic. I am proud of him.

Blizzard 2016, however, provided him with special responsibilities. His father was out of the country when the blizzard approached. His mother had an injured shoulder. Josiah knew that snow removal was solely his responsibility. And he knew snow removal was going to be a big deal. We were to get more snow than we have experienced in our 13 years in Pennsylvania.

Josiah rose to the challenge.

Fortunately, we have a snowblower. Josiah tuned it up, checked the fuel, and tested the machine out prior to the snowfall. He was ready to use it.

As the snow began to fly, he started discussing his approach to snow removal. He would look out the window and give periodic updates.

Josiah knows that it is not good to use a snowblower when the snow is too deep, so he brought it out for the first time when there was about 20 inches on the ground. I sent a photo to his father"my husband"in Spain. 'It's good Josiah is already out there,' his dad said. 'It wouldn't be good for the snowblower for him to use it in much deeper snow.'

'Yes,' I responded, 'that's what he said.'

I admired my son through the window as the snow blew horizontally through the air. There he was, ski goggles, black hood, black jacket, snowboarding gloves. He was essentially covered from head to toe, protected from the harsh winter weather as he looked out for his family. He pushed that snowblower up and down the driveway, down the sidewalks, beyond to the neighbor's sidewalk.

As the blizzard continued, Josiah continued his work. The next day, the sidewalk having been partially covered by the snowplow's efforts, Josiah geared up to clean it again, nary a complaint.

Josiah touched things up with a shovel when needed and made sure the neighbor accessed the snowblower when he was ready to use it.

I have vivid memories of a snowstorm 13 years ago, when my husband was again out of town. I remember doing the shoveling myself, throwing out my neck, ending up flat on my back, tears streaming down my cheeks as my toddler and preschooler clamored for my attention.

Now that toddler was the one caring for me.

Thank you, Josiah, for looking out for your family. And thank you, Blizzard 2016, for the opportunity for my son to rise up as a mature young man.