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A Most Memorable Move

Story ID:4137
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family Memories
Location:Manhattan KS USA
Person:Nancy Kopp and family
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Note: I had to write about a bad travel happening for a writing exercise recently, so I wrote about a trip moving from one state to another. Those of you who have made long-distance moves may be able to relate to a less than pleasant experience.

A Most Memorable Move

Christmas of 1974 found my husband and I trying to make a decision. Should we leave our home state of Illinois for a job offer? Should we go to a state I'd never been in until we flew to Kansas for a final job interview? We'd been so impressed with the university town where the leading bank wanted Ken to head their trust department but leaving our home state would be difficult. Our New Year's Eve included the decision to make the move, despite the fact we knew our families would not be happy. From that point on, things moved at a snappy pace. Told friends and family the news, put the house on the market, and flew back to Kansas to look for a house. In one week-end , we picked out a lot, met with a contractor and signed a deal to build.

By the first week in February, the movers were at our house packing, and I was at our three year old's bedside in the local hospital. Karen had a nasty case of flu and had become dehydrated. We had two days after she was dismissed before we were to leave, and on one of those days, we celebrated (sort of) Kirk's 7th birthday. The farewell parties were over, the house was empty, and it was time to go.

From the moment we'd made the decision to move to Manhattan, Kansas two, maybe three, butterflies took residence in my stomach. It was February, and I didn't like the idea of our making the 8 hour trip driving two cars. I had no problem driving in bad weather around town, but on the highway was a different story. "What if we run into snow?" I'd asked Ken a dozen times, and he patiently told me over and over that if that happened, we'd stop and go on the next day. The three butterflies in my tummy didn't seem to hear him, however, and they kept up a constant flutter.

Ken took Karen and our oversized Golden Retriever with him, and I had Kirk with me, following Ken. The morning we left was cold but clear, and Karen seemed to be feeling better after her hospital ordeal. Kirk moaned and groaned as I drove trying to keep Ken's car in sight. He didn't want to move away from his friends, and he made sure I knew it. I finally tuned him out and kept driving until Ken pulled into a large roadside service area. We all met inside for something hot to drink and a snack. As I walked in, a weakness flooded over me, my legs felt like rubber, and I had a headache. Stress, I told myself.

Soon, we were on the road again. Just south of Des Moines, Iowa, the snow started. Lightly at first, then harder. I had to work at finding Ken's tail lights. My butterflies each gave birth to babies at that point. I thought about pulling off to the side of the road, but I couldn't see it in the thick, swirling snow. Near tears and silently cussing my husband, who had promised we'd stop if we ran into bad weather, I drove slowly on. A statement from the backseat caused me to grip the wheel so hard, my knuckles matched the blizzard outside the car. "Mama, I'm going to throw up!" Kirk yelled.

"Empty the toy bag," I shouted at him. "Throw up in there."
So being the obedient child I'd raised, he did exactly that, fell back on the seat and went sound asleep. Meanwhile, I was still trying to see where the heck Ken's car had gone, was praying one of those big semis was not coming up behind me, and gagging from the stench invading the entire car.

About an hour after the snow started, it came to a blissful and beautiful end. I'd finally controlled my gagging, or maybe had gotten use to the overpowering smell of vomit. There, in front of me, I finally saw Ken's car. He signaled and pulled off into a roadside picnic area. A picnic area with snow piled up high! I parked next to him and flew out of the car. "You told me we'd stop!" I hollered as he was getting Karen and Rusty out of the car. "Sorry, but there was nowhere to stop," he said, not looking one bit apologetic. "Besides, you did fine." I was busy removing the toy bag Kirk had used when he got sick, so I didn't answer. I marched by him and tossed it into a trash receptacle with a mighty heave-ho, wishing all the time that my husband was in the bag!

Karen and Rusty ran around in the snow, having a wonderful time. We decided on a stopping place near Kansas City where wed spend the night, and after I'd checked on Kirk, who slept on, we got back on the highway and had a non-eventful journey to Liberty, Missouri, just north of Kansas City. The motel agreed to take the dog as long as he was never left alone in the room, so we went to dinner separately, which was just as well since I was still not very happy with my husband.

By the time we had eaten, Karen started looking green around the gills and felt warm. Kirk was his usual peppy self, his snowstorm illness seemingly gone. I slept with Karen that night, and all through the night, she grew hotter, and I knew she had a fairly high fever. In the morning, I told Ken we needed to get her to an Emergency Room. It was a Sunday, and it was the only thing I could think to do.

He said, "It's only another two hours to Manhattan, and I'd rather see a dr. there." He gave me that stubborn German look, and I agreed that two more hours wouldn't hurt. This time I took Karen, and he took Kirk and the dog. She slept the two hours through the Flint Hills. We checked into a motel, and set out to find a hospital. The first one we located was a Catholic hospital, and my staunch Lutheran husband suggested we look for the public hospital instead. "No way," I told him, "we're going to this one. Now!"

The pediatrician on call came in when the ER nurse phoned him. He told us Karen had a secondary infection brought on by the earlier flu shed had. He called a pharmacist who left his home and opened his store to fill a prescription for us. It was a time before grocery store pharmacies open seven days a week. Turned out we kept the same pediatrician and pharmacist til they both retired.

By evening, I could barely see straight from a severe headache, couldn't eat, was burning with fever. Yes, Mama had gotten Karen's flu. It had started the morning we left Illinois, but I managed to hold off the worst of it until we reached our destination. And once in Manhattan, the butterflies flew away, too. I never did cry on that trip, but, oh how I wanted to.

Karen and I were sick for the first full week we were in Manhattan. The movers arrived on Monday to deliver part of our things to the small duplex we'd rented while the house was being built. They offered to unpack, but I was too sick so told them to leave the boxes and go. I fell onto a mattress wondering which box held the sheets but really didn't care. When Kirk got home from his first day in a new school, he unpacked boxes while I supervised from the mattress and Ken finished when he arrived home after his first day at the bank. It was a never-to-be-forgotten move. Despite the bad introduction to Kansas, we all grew to love it here and still do.