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Nicholas Wundram

Nick Wundram

They were concerned at the St. Louis preemie hospital unit that Nick might not make it for a year. He was so tiny at birth that he would fit in a man’s hand. Premature babies are precious little gifts of God. They are to be handled delicately.

Well, what do you know? The other day, Nicholas Wundram turned 21 years old. Would he live for one year? Shucks, he lived 21 years and is still going strong. The early years were tense, but now he is a husky 6-foot-2 and his mom, Teri, hopes that is enough. He’s a junior at the University of Northern Iowa, a good student and a first-class tennis player.

He is called Nick because he was born in December and we all thought Nick (St. Nicholas) was a good fit.

LIFE HAS BEEN adventure from the beginning for our grandson, Nick Wundram. His mom and dad, Peter, were visiting relatives in St. Louis over Thanksgiving 21 years ago. Late November was far from her Feb. 14 due date. But the inevitable always happens, and Teri ended up in the hospital. Nick came into this world on Dec. 9. He stayed in a neo-natal hospital in St. Louis for weeks.

As Christmas neared, it was time for Nick to be flown home to Davenport. The flight date was set for Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. Nick’s parents would wait at the hospital in Davenport while Grandma Helen and Grandpa Bill would be nervous outside Elliott Aviation in Moline at 9:30 a.m., a sunny 2 below zero.

It was an epic morning for us, watching that King Air 100 make a landing. The crew for Nicholas was the pilot, a physician, a nurse and a respiratory tech. We watched several of them duck into Elliott with thermos bottles, obviously for hot coffee for the trip back to St. Louis.

“Where is the baby?” my wife anxiously called out, her breath puffing steam.

FROM THE PLANE came a woman with something that looked like a bundle of blankets. Tammy Nodarse, a charge nurse from Genesis, held tightly to the bundle. Amid the swaddling was our grandson, Nicholas. Out there in the cold, my nervous wife asked Tammy, “How are you going to get him to the ambulance?”

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The answer: “You’ll see.” We watched, amazed, as she tucked the tiny bundle of baby and covers under her sweater and then under her heavy coat and rushed to the ambulance. She called to my wife, “A tummy under a coat is the warmest spot there is.”

Well, that was that. Nick was at Genesis Medical Center-East Rusholme Street in Davenport for quite a spell, in an incubator that looked like a tiny greenhouse. But he grew quickly through the years, and is a born comic.

I needed a quick photo of him for this column and from college he said he would email one to me.

He sent a picture of an ape.

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Contact Bill Wundram at 563-383-2249 or wundram@qctimes.com.

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