Empty nester take two

By: 
Dennis Warden

It was four years ago, 2014 when my wife and I became empty nesters. We loaded up the family mini-van and made the 90 mile journey to Columbia and moved our baby girl Abby into Hudson dorm at Mizzou. Four years can go by fast.

That was our third trip moving one of our children into a college dorm. In 2010 we moved our middle child, Ethan, to a dorm at Missouri State University in Springfield.

Two years before we moved Jacob into a dorm at Rolla. As you may know, college life didn’t work out for Jacob. His calling was to help me in the newspaper business. College is not for everyone. But, it stuck with our younger two.

In each one of those transitions into dorm life the trusty Dodge Caravan could handle the move.

When Abby made the transition to an apartment in Columbia a half ton Chevy cargo van from the newspaper provided enough space to move her furniture from Owensville to Columbia.

This move, last weekend, took more.

In May she graduated from Mizzou with a double major in physics and math. You would think that would be enough. But nooooo, she has to go for her doctorate.

After months of applications, rejection and acceptance letters she chose to attend the University of Wisconsin at Madison to further her education.

Part of the decision to go to Madison was because that is where her brother Ethan and his wife Hillary reside. Ethan just finished his masters in music performance in Madison and Hillary is working on her doctorate in chemistry.

The way it looks Connie and I will have two Doctors in the family before we know it.

So anyway, on Friday we rented a 15 foot U-Haul box truck to make the trip to Wisconsin. While I worked at the newspaper, Abby and her boyfriend Alex loaded the U-Haul.

At 6:00 p.m. we were on the road. Abby took the lead in the Caravan with Connie and I following in the box truck. Alex brought up the rear in his car.

It’s amazing how different the ride is in a one ton box truck. Every bump and pothole is magnified. Before we left I had looked over the load in the back of the U-Haul. They had followed my instructions, placing the large, heavy furniture towards the front. Blankets were used on furniture and the appropriate items strapped down. Everything looked good.

As we were bouncing down the highway through St. Louis Connie happened to mention that she hoped the mirror for the dresser was riding well in the back.

WHAT. You mean that with space in the mini-van they packed the dresser mirror in the U-Haul. I just knew it would be in pieces.

After a seven and a half hour drive we pulled into the driveway of the three bedroom house Ethan, Hillary, Abby and Alex had rented. The next morning we opened the back door of the U-Haul and began the unloading process. When we found the mirror it was in one piece. Amazing.

After that was done it was off to Ethan and Hillary’s previous apartment where our next job was to move their furniture to the new home. Although it was short, this move had its own challenges.

They have lived in Madison for the past three years. This gave them plenty of time to acquire a lot of stuff such as two kayaks, a BBQ grill, two bicycles, etc. That would not have been so difficult if their apartment would have been on the ground floor.

Their apartment for the last three years was literally in an old attic up two flights of stars that included one 90 degree turn and two 180 degree turns.

If it went down it would be called the stairway to hell. In order to make it easier to remove a couch we tore the fabric off the back and cut the wooden supports to make the couch more flexible.

This scenario is being repeated all over the United States. The peak months for moving are from April through September. I’m sure it’s no surprise that it coincides with the beginning of the college year. 

As I drove around that particular college town there were several moving trucks of all sizes visible.

In many ways Connie and I feel we are empty nesters again. Now two of our three children are seven hours away in Madison. Abby can no longer come home for the weekend when she feels like it. 

One day she will marry. Then I won’t have to do so much work when they move.

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