CHAPT 8 1978-1986 Columbus, Ohio
These years were the most difficult period for our family in so many ways. There certainly were positive things that happened along the way, but it was also a period of many challenges, the likes of which we had never experienced as a family before. In 1978, Scott had graduated from Northland High School and was enrolled at Ohio State University. He was in his second year as a Music major (Cello performance). He was dating Kim Merchant who was also attending OSU in music as well and they were married during the summer of 1978 even though each of them had one more year of college before graduation. My Mom (Bertha Tice) was living with us regularly now although she still would travel back to Kansas during the summer for a few more years, and Keith’s Mom (Ruby Michal) had also come to visit us during that time. Terry was a junior in high school and Todd was a sophomore and had just received his pilot’s license and was a member of Air Scouts. Terry was accepted in a work/study program and both were attending the new Beechcroft High School. Kelly had just turned 10 years old that January and was attending school at the IGE charter school in Columbus, and we were still a Foster family; Gregg and Jim had both returned back home to live with their families and Curtiss had arrived!
Elva had expanded her private teaching studio to almost full time, was an active member of OMTA and Keith was a professor at Ohio State University. Scott had struggled with health problems due to serious reactions to monosodium glutamate (MSG) but it was stable by then. Then in 1979 Terry graduated from high school. She had moved away from home, later enrolling in the OSU School of Cosmetology where she became certified as a beautician and got a job at Fantastic Sam’s Beauty Salon. Todd graduated from H. S. in 1980 and began college at Ohio State University that fall; and during both summers of 1980 and 1981 he would travel to Kansas for a month to work on the Tice Farms.
In 1981 Keith was invited to present a program with other OSU colleagues at a Conference to be held at Budapest, Hungary, so that summer the two of us packed our bags and took a trip to Europe with plans to camp there for an entire month! Scott and Kim would stay at our house to help provide transportation, and Grandma Michal and Grandma Tice would be there to cook for Todd and Kelly and the rest of the family! In 1982 Jessica was born—our first grandchild! And, we had experienced such a great trip in Europe, in the summer of 1982 we decided to go again but this time to take whatever family members could go, rent a camper in England, and then complete a ‘circle tour’ of Western Europe and Ireland. A few members of the family did not go: Mother Tice was visiting the family in Kansas; Jessica was a baby so Scott and Kim decided not to go with us; Teraysa had a job and was planning her wedding, so she stayed in Columbus; Curtiss had been adopted into a great family and Tessa did not arrive as a new foster daughter until we returned home; but Todd, Kelly and Mom Nickel went with Keith and I and we spent an entire month there.
Keith had received tenure from Ohio State University and was now an Associate Professor, and I decided to enroll in an independent studies class at OSU at the graduate level. We returned from Europe to Columbus in time to finish the wedding plans, and Terry and Owen were married in October of 1982. 1982, however, would be the last year of ‘normalcy’ for our family because for the next 5 years, troubles and trauma would haunt us in ways we never could have imagined. In 1983 Keith was 50 years old, I was 49 years old, Scott was age 26, Terry was 22, Todd was 21 and Kelly was 15.
Troubles had begun a bit earlier when Mother Tice at age 90 fell and broke her hip which necessitated her use of a wheelchair and walker, limiting her mobility; it was then that she became a permanent resident of Ohio. Tessa was approved for an adoptive home but that placement failed, and she returned to us after about a week. However, she was soon approved again for a second adoptive placement which was perfect in every way for her. And, it was in 1983 that we concluded our Foster Parent commitment. About that time, Elva was accepted into the graduate program at Ohio State University in Music Education with an emphasis in teaching piano to students with special needs. Joshua (Scott and Kim's second child) was born in March of 1984. Todd graduated from college at OSU in 1984 with a BA in Engineering and began graduate school; he and Debbie became engaged and Debbie also started graduate school at OSU and lived at our house during that time. Owen and Terry were still living in Columbus but later would move to Mississippi for his job and Kelly was attending Columbus Alternative High School.
Genealogy had been of interest to both Keith and I and it was in 1984 that Vera Creitz (who had sparked my interest in family history) planned a Cooke-Creitz family reunion in Beloit, Kansas. At that time, my Mom, Bertha Cooke Tice, was the oldest living relative in the Cooke family, so we decided that we must attend that reunion which was to be held over a weekend. We rented a large motor home and my Mom, Scott, Barb, Jessica, Josh, Kelly and Keith and I left Columbus on Friday night after work, Keith drove all night and we spent Saturday at the reunion. Keith slept that day and then we drove back to Columbus again on Sunday!
It was about that time when Kim made a followup appointment with her Doctor who, after examining her, urged her to see a specialist. His diagnosis was that she had breast cancer which was inoperable and would be fatal. Unbelievable! In spite of Chemotherapy during which time Scott’s family moved back to Columbus from Southern Ohio, Kim’s death would come only 5 months later (in March of 1985) -- just after Jessica had turned 3 years old and a few days before Josh’s first birthday; also, just before Todd and Debbie’s wedding day which was scheduled for March of 1984 in South Dakota. Then, in 1985, my Mom was hospitalized with pneumonia but returned home with no lasting effects that we knew of. I had completed my Master’s degree in Special Education and was working on my PhD research when I received a phone call from Sharon Pancake, my Mom’s caregiver, that Mom had experienced an episode of bleeding. The visiting nurse and a Hospice doctor came out to the house with the news that the antibiotics from the pneumonia treatment had created a bleeding problem for her and that she most likely had only about 24 hours to live. Again, unbelievable! But, they were right and about 7 a.m. the next morning, she passed away. Cinder, our cat who (as a kitten) had been a solace to Delbert and to other foster children when they came to visit our house came in to her room shortly after she passed. Now, although my Mom did not like cats, Cinder liked her! And he would often come into her room, jump up on her bed (she would gently push him off) and then he would curl up on the floor at the foot of her bed—just to keep her company. That morning after her death, he came in, walked around the room once and then left—and never (that I know of) entered her room again.
This was in August of 1986. So much had happened: Twenty one years earlier, we had moved to Columbus Ohio but In only these last 8 years, our family had expanded to include two new daughter-in-laws and a son-in-law but also two family members had died. It would take another 3 years to recover from the old and emerge into a completely new phase for the Michal family.