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A Little White Lie Saved Us

Story ID:6404
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Zion IL USA
Year:1969
Person:My husband
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In 1969 Ken and I had been married for five years. He came home from work one evening enthused over an ad he’d seen in The Wall Street Journal for a trust officer in a larger bank than the one he worked in.

“Would you be willing to move to another state?” he asked

His question surprised me as moving out of Illinois had never entered my mind. “I’m not sure. Let me think about it,” I responded. I didn’t want to give an answer too quickly, one I might regret later on.

I served dinner, fed our two-year-old son, and cleaned up the kitchen routinely, all the while pondering his question. Would I move to another state? Could I? I’d lived in the Chicago area all my life. My family and friends all claimed some part of Chicago as home, and Ken’s folks lived a three hour drive from us. We had a comfort zone here.

As I put Kirk to bed, I thought about what it might be like to start over in a new place. We’d had our share of sorrow in our short life together. Three full-term babies but only our son had survived. Maybe a fresh start would be good for both of us. And Michigan wasn’t the end of the earth.

I tucked the soft blanket around our little boy, swept the hair off his forehead and planted a kiss. Then I went to tell Ken to go ahead and send his resume. “If it happens, I’ll move.”

“I fit all the qualifications in the ad, but there could be a lot of others answering it,” he said. I could tell from the gleam in his eye that his interest level had soared to High after my consent.

Ken sent the resume, and some weeks later received a response. They were interested and wanted to interview him. He arranged for some time off, drove to Michigan and back in one day. It was a long day for me waiting at home, not knowing if the result would be positive or a dead end. I’d had time to consider the move and felt as eager as Ken to make the change.

He returned late that night filled with enthusiasm. The department was larger than the one he headed, and the salary much better, but there were others they still had to interview. Then the waiting began. He experienced more anxiety than I since he had seen the community, the bank and those running it, and he liked the situation. I started looking at our house the way a realtor might see it, noting little things that needed attention.

Days later, they offered Ken the job, and he told them he’d talk it over with his wife and get back to them with a final answer. Everything seemed to fit the type of position he had been hoping for. The next day he accepted the job. Details about starting time and moving were discussed. Excitement reigned in our house that evening. An adventure lay ahead.

We’d let our families know earlier about the possibility of a move, so we called and gave them our news. They were supportive, but I knew our leaving brought some negative emotions, too. Still, it didn’t dampen our enthusiasm at all.

We stayed up late talking about all we had to do. Ken had to resign his present position. We had a house to sell, another to hunt for. When you’re young and a new horizon appears in your life, you don’t worry about those things; you do them. We went to bed with myriad thoughts tumbling through our minds like circus acrobats but finally fell asleep.

At 5:30 the next morning, Ken gently shook my shoulder. It startled me, and I rolled over to face him. “What’s the matter? Is Kirk crying?”

“I can’t take that job,” he said. “Something’s bothering me about the bank.”

In the darkness, his words made me swallow hard. “What is it?”

“I don’t know, can’t put my finger on it, but something isn’t right.”

And then there was silence on both sides of the bed. Finally, I said aloud what most likely both of us were thinking. “Call them and tell them you changed your mind.”

Ken reached for my hand before he responded. “How can I do that after accepting the job yesterday? I made a commitment.”

More silence. Then I sat up and gave him the way out. “Tell them your wife won’t go, that she won’t leave her family.” Ken’s words had struck a chord of fear in me, and I responded without the careful thought I might have otherwise.

And so, that is what he did. It wasn’t easy for him to make the call, and we both experienced a mild depression for a short time. The job and town had sounded so good, and then he’d changed his mind for no identifiable reason. He, who always dealt in concrete happenings, not the abstract, acted on a gut feeling. We both felt disappointed and questioned what we’d done for a good while.

Ken stayed at the bank in Illinois, and we moved on with our life, but we sometimes wondered if we shouldn’t have been so quick to back out. He continued to watch the business journals for Trust Officer Wanted ads but gave his all to the job he held at the time.

A year passed, one in which the Michigan job came into our conversation occasionally. Nothing else that interested him had come along even though he wanted to make a change. Then one evening, he came home with some shocking news. He read in a business newspaper that day that the Michigan bank he’d backed out on had gone under. Closed! Kaput!

What had felt like a black mark on a page in our lives suddenly took on a different look. We’d received a gift when Ken had that gut feeling, or maybe an angel whispered in his ear. If we’d moved to Michigan, we would now be in a dire situation with no job, no income, house payments to make, family far away. Any remaining guilt he felt in going back on his word after accepting that job flowed away like water over a dam. The present situation, his job and the community we lived in suddenly appeared very attractive. We were blessed. What better way to show it than with a hug and a kiss?