Monthly Archives: January 2013

My Other Boys

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After work on Friday I drove to the daycare to pick up Maxton and Carter. They were spending the night with me while their parents were attending a seminar in Boise. I was excited to have them. I showed my identification to the daycare providers and they called Maxton and Carter out into the hall. Both boys came running to me full throttle. I knelt to receive my hugs and kisses from them. I am not sure who was more excited, the boys or me.

We came home and I prepared dinner for us. Carter and Maxton wanted bacon and waffles. Hmmm bacon and waffles two weekends in a row. Carter loves to help in the kitchen. I always placed my own children upon the kitchen counter and I have continued to do that with each of my grandchildren. I sat Carter on the kitchen counter far enough away so he would not be burned but close enough that he could see all that I was preparing. He was directing my cooking and giving me orders like ‘put da lid on it, Ga-Ma’. He was referring to the splatter guard over the bacon. You can tell Carter is with his mother in the kitchen often. While Carter and I cooked, Maxton volunteered to set our places at the bar. He too was giving me directives; ‘you sit right here, Ga-Ma’. He positioned my place setting in the middle so both boys would be able to sit beside me. The three of us sat at the bar eating waffles dripping with maple syrup and sharing about our day.

After dinner we settled in to watch Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears A Who movie. Later in the evening I was sitting in the wingback chair. Carter, who is only two lay on the carpet. His back was to the warmth of the fireplace and he was facing my chair. He looked at me with those great big eyes saying, “Cover me, blankie, Ga-Ma”. I covered him with the blue blanket Grandma Goodson had knit for him and patted his bottom.  Again he speaks to me, “Dat make me happy.” I told him, he makes me happy too.

Carter’s eyes tell the story; he is ready for bed. I gently ask, “Are you ready for bed, Carter bug?” “No!” he exclaimed vehemently. “You din not set the ti-ma.” I had forgotten. Paige and Michael set the timer before bedtime. Once it goes off Carter knows it is time for bed. I set the timer for 10 minutes and when the buzzer sounded Carter wanted to ‘push the button’ to shut it off . He was ready for bed. I tucked him into bed, gave him a goodnight kiss and quietly closed his door.

Maxton was watching a second movie on the iPad. I told him I was extending his bedtime but I cautioned him to remain quiet so Carter could sleep. Max was in no hurry for bed.

I had been given a chemo treatment of Herceptin earlier in the afternoon and I was starting to fade. One half hour later my promise of letting Maxton stay up longer was going to be broken by me. Yawning I approached him and said, “Come on Sweetie time for us to go to bed.” The reaction I got from him was not what I expected. Max has always been the easiest of my grandsons to put down for bed. Friday night he is running from me yelling, “No, no I don’t want to go to bed!” I sternly scolded him for the tone of his voice and also for his loudness. I threatened to spank his bottom if that behavior continued. I knelt before him on the carpet and asked, “Max, why are you acting like this?” With his head looking down he did not answer me. He shrugged his shoulders.

A light bulb went off in his old grandma’s head. Wrapping my arms around him I held him. Stroking his hair I asked if he wanted to sleep with Grandma. That was all it took and that was all he wanted. His demeanor changed instantly.

We crawled into my bed and he lay beside me in the darkened room. He asked, “Grandma, do you want me to sing you a song and tell you a story?” “Yes, Max I would like that very much” I replied. Sometimes he sings songs we both know and other times he makes up his own. That night he sang one of his own creations. His tiny four-year-old voice was soft as he sang in his high pitch voice. Story time was also derived from his own imagination. Friday night’s story was about a big bad wolf and the Avengers. Maxton is quite a storyteller. There are always good guys and bad guys in his stories and of course he is one of the good guys. After he completed singing his song and telling me a story he asked one other question. “Grandma did that make you happy?” In the darkness I reach out to draw him near. Touching him I whispered in his ear, “Yes, Max you always make me happy.”

Vika

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I was leaving the parking lot at work on Tuesday when my daughter called. She was calling from her car phone asking if I would like to have dinner with her and the little boys. I was disappointed not to eat with my youngest grandchildren but I had a dinner reservation at the Cottonwood with a friend. With regret I told her that I already had a dinner date.  Teasingly she said, “ Boys, Grandma said she doesn’t want to have dinner with you tonight.” Four year old Maxton could be heard in the background crying out, “Whyyyyyy?” I was adamantly refuting her statement and admonished Paige to tell them the truth. She was laughing. The next thing I heard over the car phone was Maxton’s voice exclaiming, “I don’t like you any more, Grandma!” That statement from Maxton really made my daughter laugh. I on the other end of the phone wanted to beat his mother! Paige can be such a tease sometimes. The two of us were both laughing at the boy’s reactions. She finally explained why I could not go to dinner. It hurt Maxton’s feelings and although disappointed he got over it rather quickly.

I continued my drive home. Turning onto Blackpool Drive I could see my friend was already parked outside my house ready to taxi me to the restaurant. I parked in the garage, ran through the house flipping on the porch lights and opened the door to her car. Once seated and buckled up she commented on my hat. “I love your hat. That looks so good on you.” I flung my wool hat aside and said, “You will like this even more!” She squealed with delight, “Oh, look at your hair!” I have gotten bold and finally removed my hat while I am at work. It is extremely short; only one half to three quarters of an inch long on the top. My hair is salt and pepper in color (more salt than pepper) but my head is completely covered and it finally lies down nicely. I look like a man but I don’t care. I have hair. I wear it proudly.

I remember my friend, Pam and her words ring in my ears, “It is only hair, Nick and it will grow back.” I look upwards and think to myself and Pam, “You are right, Pammy. It did grow back. I wish you were here to see it.”

Vicky is my childhood chum that I have not seen in years. We have been friends since the fourth grade. She and I used to stand proudly in front of the class and sing duets together. We thought we were so good. I shared in my last blog that I am not musical but you couldn’t convince me of that when I was ten years old. I thought the world should be delighted to hear Vicky and I sing.  Oh the innocence of childhood thinking.

Vicky now likes to be called by her nickname, Vika. I am trying to remember that. Vika is the Hawaiian name that her father in law gave to her when she first met him and I must admit the name fits her personality. Like me, she prefers her nickname to her birth name.

When we were younger other children would taunt and tease her. They were disrespectful and extremely hurtful. My daddy would always say to me, “Juanita, be ‘bery ‘nice to, ‘Bicky’.” My father was from the Philippines as was Vicky’s dad and he spoke with broken English. I wanted to protect my new friend. As a child I was not as bold as I am now but I could be Vicky’s fiercest defender.

Vika was born with a birth defect. Her arms are not fully formed. At the end of her short arms, her hands curl inward towards her body and she is missing both thumbs. Without thumbs she holds an ink pen between two fingers and her penmanship is superb. Vika is a smart, confident and extremely compassionate woman. She is beautiful to me.

We were best friends in grade school but went our separate ways in junior and high school. Although we remained friends we lost track of each other after graduation and would only see one another at class reunions. Vika re-entered my life last spring when I was diagnosed with cancer.  Her eyes twinkle when she is recanting something funny we did as children and they mist when she speaks of our friendship and what it means to her today. She always brings a smile to my face. Vika is a true friend and a very special blessing to me. As children we walked hand in hand together. As adults we are walking heart to heart.

My boys.

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My two oldest “Reasons for Fighting” spent the night with me on Friday. Kristy brought Ethan and Lance to the office.  After work the three of us headed to Costco to pick up a few things. I loaded the cart with the items on my list but my mind was a little pre-occupied. Lance ran ahead and wanted to sample the food items.  A grin on his face and  his tongue dangling like a panting puppy dog he asked permission to do so. I nodded yes giving both boys my approval. I cautioned Lance; the first one he touched is the one he must take. Ethan declined a sample. Guess what food they are promoting? Licorice! Of course sugar, Lance’s favorite food!

Ethan is a first year violin student and he brought his violin to play for me. My side of the family loves music. I am not musical at all and I am pleased that he has shown an interest.  I missed his orchestra performance a month ago. He entertained me Friday night and Saturday as well as he played song after song on his violin.

Both boys requested maple-glazed bacon for breakfast. Lance wanted homemade waffles to accompany his bacon and Ethan asked for Quiche Lorraine. Each of them expressed a desire for tortellini soup for lunch. I had made the soup the weekend before in anticipation of their overnight visit. I only had to retrieve it from the freezer and add the cheese tortellini.

Ethan is always curious to learn how to cook. He asked to be awakened in the morning before I started making the quiche so he could observe. My grandsons asked what made the bacon taste so good. I smiled and said, “It is an old Chinese secret (it really isn’t, just makes the story better)! I add some grey Poupon mustard to maple syrup then glaze the bacon and bake it in the oven.” Ethan exclaims, “Ewww, Grandma, that does not sound good; adding ‘poop-on’ mustard.” Oh how I laughed! I told the boys it was not ‘Poop-On’ but Poupon. We practiced saying pou-pon dragging out the ‘pou’ with the emphasis on ‘pon’ giggling the whole time. They will never forget that ingredient in Grandma’s sweet bacon.

We baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies and the three of us huddled closely together on the sofa watching a movie. Ethan and I snuggled under the red throw and Lance buried himself under his blanket ‘Greenie’.  Ethan said I needed to get a bigger couch although both boys like their small bodies pressed against mine when we sit together. We told stories, shared about our week and giggled. It was snuggle time with my boys.

Greenie is a green and (once) white fleece blanket that my sister in law, Leah made for Ethan when he was a baby. All of my grandchildren with the exception of Ethan have a relationship with their ‘blankies’. Since Ethan did not have any emotional attachment to the blanket and Lance did he willingly gave it to his younger brother. Lance pounced on it and claimed it as his personal friend. He gave the name ‘Greenie’ to his inherited blanket.

Last year I drove Todd’s family to the airport. They were going on vacation to Disneyland. When I arrived Kristy had their suitcases and backpacks neatly lined up in the living room.  Lance came downstairs excited to go clutching Greenie tightly in his arms. Kristy told him that he had to leave the blanket at home this time. His little eyes welled up with tears and he asked why. His mother explained that he had left his blanket on numerous occasions at various places.  If my memory is correct once it had to be shipped home to Boise from Portland. She informed Lance if he took the blanket he would be solely responsible for it on the plane, in the taxi and at the hotel. If he lost it, Greenie would be gone forever. She asked him if he was prepared for that. Lance looked at me hoping I would interject. I thought, ‘Lance, I cannot get in the middle of this. You need to listen to your mom.’ I remained silent until Lance looked at me with quivering lips and tear filled eyes and asks, “Grammy, will you keep Greenie with you and take care of him while I am away?” I assured him I would. He makes one more statement, “Grammy, you can wash Greenie while I am gone but will you bring him with you to the airport when you pick us up?” I smiled. He gave me permission to wash his blanket. Lance does not really like his blanket washed.  It is dingy and no longer white and green but a pasty grey. I smile. ‘Grungy’ would now be a more appropriate name for his beloved blanket.

A week later I picked them up at the airport with Greenie freshly washed and neatly folded on the back seat of my car. The family was hurriedly trying to get into my car when Lance spied Greenie. He scooped up his blanket, inhaled deeply as he buried his face into it exclaiming, “Oh Greenie, I missed you so much.” The rest of us just laughed. Grandma’s hug from Lance that day was not quite as fierce or tight as the one Greenie received.

These are some of the special moments that I store in the in my heart’s warehouse of treasured memories.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

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I had chemo last Friday. The drug, Herceptin is easily tolerated. The only side effect that I experience is tiredness. The tips of my fingernails have lifted but I have not lost any of them.  My toenails however are disappearing. Four toenails have now fallen off and two more will definitely be going in a few weeks. Surprisingly they didn’t hurt much when they came off. I do have something to be excited about; the feeling in my feet is starting to return. I worried the numb sensation in my feet and fingertips would be permanent. It looks as though I will be spared that and I am truly grateful. I could walk on level floors perfectly but walking on uneven ground was quite another thing. I couldn’t feel the ground under me and would have fallen several times if others had not reached out to steady me.

My sister, Glenda came to spend the weekend with me. We went to dinner with our friend, Jack then returned to my home to visit. We laughed and it felt good to be with people I am comfortable with.

Saturday afternoon Maxton and Carter came to spend time with me while their parents went to a hockey game. Maxton had called earlier in the day assuring me that only he and Carter were staying not his mom and dad. He likes it when his parents leave.  I grew tired in the early evening and lay down on the sofa knowing my sister would watch my grandsons. Although my eyes were closed I was not asleep. I felt Maxton trying to cover me with the soft red throw that I always drape across him. Carter followed suit by laying his own blue blanket on my chest. I could feel his breathe on my cheek as he leaned in close to my face.

Carter is extremely attached to his blue blanket. Grandma Goodson hand knit both boys beautiful baby blankets. Maxton’s is white and Carter’s a soft baby blue. Both boys sleep with those blankets and when they cry they want their blankets to comfort them. For Carter to lay his blanket upon my chest was a real sign of love; he would share his beloved ‘blankie’ with Grandma Nicki. I could feel my sister smiling as she watched my grandsons covering me with blankets and love.

It snowed on Monday. I watched the snow as it dropped and swirled with the wind. Sitting at my desk at work I enjoyed watching it fall. Though lovely to look at I was dreading going home to shovel all the walks and driveway. I left work at five and slowly made my way home on slick roads. Entering the subdivision I made the decision that I would not shovel all four walks. I would leave the east sidewalk covered with snow. As I turned toward my home I could see two neighbors, Orville and Doris with shovels in their hands heading towards my home. I parked on the street and told them I would change and join them. I quickly slipped out of my dress slacks and into a pair of jeans. When I went outside a third neighbor, Judy was shoveling the walks as well. I looked left to see yet another neighbor, Ron on his four-wheeler. He had attached a blade and was clearing my driveway. I did very little shoveling that night. Quickly my driveway and all four sidewalks were void of snow due to the thoughtfulness of my neighbors. Neighbors helping neighbors was my Monday blessing. My friends covered me with love just like my grandsons. What wonderful people to share in my life.