It seemed the minute I had shoulder surgery and had my arm in a sling, the snow started coming and never let up. We didn’t worry too much about it during Christmas break, but in the first part of January, after work and school started again, the snow needed to be shoveled.

A lot of the burden fell on my wife, Donna, but I learned how to shovel snow with one arm. I would grab the shovel below the handle and wrap the handle under my forearm. I found I could shovel snow quite efficiently, though I did have to do smaller scoops.

However, it seemed like we would just finish shoveling from one snowstorm only to have another one hit. I was trying to help all I could, and Donna was concerned that I was not being careful enough with the arm I had surgery on. It was during one of these snow shoveling sessions that she suggested we should get a four-wheeler to push the snow.

“We aren’t getting any younger,” she said. “And this issue is just going to come back year after year and be more vexing to us.”

“Our neighbors have been kind to help us out while my arm heals,” I replied. “And a four-wheeler is a lot of money.”

She nodded. “I understand all of that. But these types of health challenges are going to happen more and more. I know how independent you are, and you definitely don’t want to have to rely on someone to always do it for us.”

I had to agree with her, so we started looking for a four-wheeler. We had never purchased one before, so we talked to all of our neighbors and friends who owned one. They helped us know what to look for in our search. Finally, we narrowed it down to a few, and after some test runs, we bought one.

We had no sooner got it home, then my wife and daughters were vying for who got to clean the driveway. I, unfortunately, was not even in the running. I can’t run the machine with one hand. I didn’t even get to try it out before we bought it.

It wasn’t long before our driveway was scraped clean, with the snow pushed into big piles at the side. Areas we don’t usually use in the winter were even scraped clean. When Donna came in, I complimented her.

“It really looks good. You are really getting the hang of running that machine.”

She let out a disgusted sigh. “Yeah, well, the neighbors did half of it before I even had a chance.” She paused a moment, and her eyes lit up. “I wonder if there are any neighbors that need me to clear their driveways.”

We talked about it further and came to the agreement that she should get some more practice before she did it for someone else.

“But that’s the problem,” she said. “If someone keeps clearing our driveway before I can, how am I supposed to get any practice?”

Sunday came, and quite a few people had heard about our new machine and were happy for us. One lady told us she had just sold her four-wheeler. Before Donna could offer to come to help clean her yard, the lady continued.

“In its place, my husband bought me a little tractor with a scraper and a loader.”

“How do you like it?” I asked.

“How should I know?” she replied. “I haven’t got to use it all winter. Before I can, some neighbor comes and scrapes my driveway. I’m dying to try out my tractor, but there is nothing left to try it on after the neighbors finish. I want to run out there and say, ‘I can do my own yard, thank you,’ but they have it done before I even get a chance to tell them. I keep wondering if there is anyone who needs to have their yard cleaned so I can try out my tractor.”

I looked at Donna and smiled. She gave me a look that told me not to even say what I was thinking. But we both knew she probably wasn’t going to get any extra practice with our new four-wheeler.