Moving takes toll on family

Sunday, May 16, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:06 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

I was an Army brat growing up, so I consider myself somewhat of an expert at packing and moving. Recently, my youngest son and his wife found their “dream” home. With our big family, I figured helping them move would be easy — maybe even fun. After all, my son and his wife have only been married nine years. How many possessions could they have accrued in less than a decade?

My daughter-in-law began packing at least a month before the move. I must say I was impressed with the stacks of boxes that covered the living and dining room floors. The family ate out every night the week before the big day because she had packed all of the pots, pans and dinnerware. There was method to her madness.

The move was slated for early May. Thank goodness the kids weren’t moving in the dead of winter, I thought, when it was cold and dreary. I checked the weather forecast and it said that the day would be partly cloudy and mild.

I woke up to lightning. The rain was coming down in torrents. I checked the temperature and it was 34 degrees.

My husband grumbled something about putting off the move and turned over. I had to drag him out of bed. We dressed in layers, got in our pickup and drove over to the kids’ house.

I spent the first hour trying to stay out of the way of the men as they moved the heavy stuff. I started taking clothing from the upstairs bedroom closets. I grabbed a pile of clothes with each hand and then walked carefully down the staircase — the thought of tripping and breaking my neck was always in my mind. Each time I climbed the stairs, they seemed steeper. By the time I had carried out 20 loads, I was sweating, which could have been the rain that had not stopped by 10 a.m. I shed a layer of clothing and continued on with my task. By the 30th load my arms ached and my right knee was throbbing.

At 11 a.m. we left in a caravan of cars and trucks to take the first load over to the “new” house. The rain had slowed, but the temperature was still near freezing. My son came up with a brilliant idea. He divided the crew in half. Four would stay outside and remove the items from the truck then pass them off to the inside crew who would place them in the proper room. I raised my hand and announced that I was going to be an “inside” person, thinking that I could stay warm and dry. Bad idea.

The outside people only had to walk about 20 feet before passing off. As an inside person, I had to carry items to every part of the house and most of it went downstairs. By noon I was limping, not because I wanted sympathy, which I knew I wouldn’t get, but because my feet were killing me. I announced that I would buy lunch, which would also give me time to heal.

While I was out purchasing tubs of chicken and quarts of soda, the crew had reloaded the truck. Surely this would be the last trip, I thought. But looking around the house, I could see there was a lot left to move. Where had they hidden all of this stuff?

By 6 p.m., we called it a day. It wasn’t that everything had been moved. The old garage was still chock full of junk, but all of the heavy furniture was gone and quite frankly I could barely move. My husband pushed from behind to help me into our pickup, and we headed home. Dinner that evening was popcorn and a drink, and I don’t remember eating the popcorn.

The next day was sunny and warmer. But my body was rebelling from the abuse it had taken the day before. Pushing through the pain — I didn’t really push, I just heard that phrase on TV — I took two pills and off we went to finish the job. When I walked into the kitchen I noticed a puddle of water on the floor near where the refrigerator had been. I raced to the basement and saw something dripping from the ceiling. Although my son had turned off the water to the house, he had neglected to turn off the water to the ice maker. Shop vacs really do wonders.

We put the last load into the truck around noon; then spent another two hours unloading and sorting. By 3 p.m. I had had enough and went home to veg out. But my poor husband had one job left to do. Someone had accidentally dropped a nickel in the garbage disposal at the old house and then turned it on, wedging the coin in the grinder. An hour and $60 later, the new owners had a brand new appliance. Falling into the couch, my husband announced that he was too old for this.

“Well, you better rest up,” I replied, “because another one of our sons is moving in three weeks.”

Maybe we can pay someone to be our proxies.

If you have a comment or want to help with the next move, please e-mail me at

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