Author Archives: Nicki Wong

Kindness is contagious!

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It has been a few years since I shared on this blog. My life is good and has been full of blessings.

This has been a hard winter in our valley. Never in my lifetime have I seen this much snow fall consecutively in our area. The storms just keep coming. Schools have been closed for five days and stores have closed early.We have been cautioned repeatedly not to drive unless necessary and to slow down if we do. There have been several power outages and folks have been without heat for hours. God bless our Idaho Power linemen who go out into the frigid weather to repair those lines. I have whispered more prayers for their safety than ever before. We have ice dams in our gutters and heavy snow weighting our roofs.

This year I have joined several neighbors as we have repeatedly cleaned off our own driveways and sidewalks. We helped those who are unable to do their own and have pushed one another’s cars to assist them on their way. It has warmed my heart to see the outpouring of help amongst my neighbors; neighbors helping neighbors. One thing the snow has brought is camaraderie. It has been fun to lean on our snow shovels and visit with one another after the shoveling is completed.

I am not one to get easily discouraged but I must admit to a pity party or two these last few weeks. Yesterday I spent hours chipping away the ice with my husband’s garden shovel.The handle is worn smooth with indentations where his hands once gripped it. The blade is small from the many times it has been sharpened with a grinder. It is my prized possession. Once I dislodged the ice I could pick it up with the snow shovel. It was heavy. My mounds of snow are getting so tall it is hard for me to throw the snow over to the other side. My emotions were getting the best of me but I managed to get the sidewalks and garage slab cleaned before the end of the day. As I worked I watched the neighbor boys run up and down the streets on the four wheeler squealing with joy. I smiled thinking, “I remember feeling like that.”

This morning I awoke at five a.m.. I planned to go to Winco for additional Icemelt. I have been calling all over the valley and no one has any. Winco gets their shipments in a 5:30 a.m. and my intent was to go early and bring some home for myself and my neighbors. Then I looked outside and saw we had another two inches of snow and it was coming down hard. The news again told how treacherous the road conditions were so I skipped my trip to Winco. My friends went later and guess what; Winco’s shipment did not come in due to the road conditions. I decided I needed more coffee before I tackled the new snowfall. I would wait until it stopped snowing.

Later in the morning the snow turned to rain. I had gone out for a short while checking the drains and trying to divert the water away from the house. I came inside cold and wet. I looked out my front window and noticed that part of my sidewalk was cleared. I opened the door prepared to yell at my neighbors, Orville and Doris for being out in those conditions. They have been faithful to me. To my surprise it wasn’t them but a father and his two sons who live in the end of our cul-de-sac. I went outside to thank them and came inside to bake a batch of thank you cookies. I commend parents who teach their children the value of helping others with no rewards expected.  If truth were told there might have been a tear or two that slide down my cheek while inside the sanctity of my own home.

Have you ever been the recipient of goodness that just left your heart smiling? Perhaps you are the one who shared the goodness and it made your own heart smile. At any rate, those young boys touched me deeply this morning. My heart was smiling so brightly it found it’s way to my face. It renewed my faith in young people.

Kindness is contagious and the world needs more of it. It is up to you and I to put it there. Kindness; pass it on. It can put a smile on someone’s HEART and maybe your own will smile a little too.

PS Now I need to find someone with a grinder. The blade on my husband’s shovel doesn’t look like it once did.

 

 

 

Christmas 2014

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It is hard to believe that 2014 is coming to an end. Time seems to fly by so much quicker as I age.

Life is good to me. I am not idle and I love retirement. I babysit a little boy, Tyson who has stolen my heart on Monday and Tuesdays. On Wednesdays I work at Dakan Chapel in accounts payable plus work any funerals that they need my assistance with during the rest of the week. I am well suited for both jobs. Does that make me semi-retired instead of retired?

My four grandsons are all doing well and are still the delights of my life. Maxton started kindergarten this year so Carter rides to preschool each day without his big brother. He and Paige have alone time on the way to and from work. On the other hand Maxton gets to spend time with Grandma Goodson and his daddy each day. Wanda helps Max with his homework when he gets off the bus at her house and Maxton is his daddy’s shadow most afternoons.

Ethan and Lance no longer attend the same school. Ethan entered middle school this year. It is only blocks away from his home so he can walk or ride his bike. He likes to spend time with me learning to cook. He has learned to cook omelets, quiche and Swedish pancakes (crepes), fudge and salads. Lances’ love is football and he attends every BSU home game with his parents even when the temperature dips into the single digits. His build is small yet he wants to be a football player someday.

My health continues to remain steady. Instead of visiting the oncologists every four months they have now bumped me out to every six months.  I must admit that occasionally I struggle with the “what-ifs” but I am grateful for each new day that I have been given.

I read a book recently and I leave you with these borrowed words:

“What a blessing life is. If you don’t believe it, get up and watch the sunrise tomorrow or take time to gaze up at the stars. Listen to the restful sound of a morning dove in the quiet woods, or the wind whispering through the leaves above you.

Contemplate all that you are grateful for, and never give up on your dreams. Most importantly, give your whole heart to all that you love in this life.”

Amidst all the trappings of this busy season I hope you pause and quietly give thanks for your blessings. From my heart and home to yours; Merry Christmas.

Nicki

Aside

I finished all of my treatment in May of this year and I am feeling much better now that my body is not flooded with toxic chemicals. I see the doctors every 4 months and go to therapy twice a month for the lymphedema. I no longer have to wear the day sleeve and glove on my left arm and hand due to the therapy. I still have tightness and swelling in my chest,  arm and armpit area but it is something that I can tolerate.

I retired from Farm Credit in June after ten years with the company. It was difficult leaving customers that I had grown so attached to. I miss them. I am grateful many have remained my friends and still have contact with me. I worried that I would be bored but that has not been the case. You have to book an appointment with me now. My phone calendar is pretty full.

One of Paige’s co-workers needed a babysitter for four weeks and my daughter asked if I would consider filling in. Being the baby lover that I am I said yes. Tyson and I bonded from day one. He was about four months old at the time. He is an easy baby to watch. Needless to say I fell in love with him and his parents too. He nows spends every Monday at my house.

I also took part time work as a funeral assistant. Sometimes I work in the office but my real joy is out in the field helping with the funerals. It is a job that I am well suited for and fits me perfectly. The directors like me and I like assisting families at a difficult time in their lives. I am “on call’ and free to say no if I have any doctor’s appointments scheduled. It gets me out of the house and I enjoy being with and around people.

My Christmas gift was given early this year. My children gave me a trip to the Bahamas and Disneyworld. The planning for this trip started Christmas of 2012.  Paige orchestrated the event. My daughter is extremely organized and we all love having her take the reins in the planning arena. Everything was taken care of for me by Todd’s family and Paige’s. I only had to show up and enjoy the trip. It will be a forever memory in my storehouse of treasures.

I wrote about our trip and wanted to post it in my blog for my family but it was six pages long! I didn’t want to bore anyone besides family with my descriptions. However, I felt the need to record the memories for myself and my family.

We spent four days on a cruise to the Bahamas and four days spent at Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida. Two days were spent traveling to and fro. We had a wonderful time. It was fun to see my grown children relax and my grandsons always bring me pleasure. They had fun enjoying new adventures.

We also had pouty times, meltdowns and blistered feet but those dimmed from my mind once we returned home. What stands out vividly are the smiles on my grandson’s faces, the excitement in their voices with each new discovery, the joy of having my family together and the love I felt for all of them. It was priceless.

Somewhere in my mothering I must have done something good.  The proof is evident in my loving and generous children. It was a memorable vacation for all of us. It was not the magnitude of their generous gift that made this trip such an exceptional time. I treasure the fact that my children and grandchildren desire to spend time and make memories with each other and me. They will remember and cherish this extraordinary vacation spent together in their hearts long after I am gone. It was in Disney words…. A MAGICAL TIME!

Merry Christmas from my heart and home to yours. May you feel “The Love” this season.

Nicki

 

A New Beginning

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This has been a long week. I had classes on Monday & Wednesday nights to teach me how to regain my strength,  a therapy treatment on my arm and chest area on Thursday, ending with chemo on Friday.

When I arrived at work on Friday my desk area decorated with crepe paper streamers and a balloon. A gorgeous pink orchid sat in the middle of my desk. Jessi had stayed late after work on Thursday to work her magic. Allison, another co-worker had baked a cake in the shape of a cancer bow decorating it with pink icing. The office staff enjoyed eating her yummy dessert and I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face….one long year of treatment was ending for me. My daughter arrived at 10:30 to whisk me away for my final chemo treatment. I was greeted warmly by the nurses in the chemo suite, given my dose of Herceptin followed by hugs and well wishes as I left. I thought back to that day one year ago when I entered MSTI for my first treatment. What a difference in the emotions that I felt; then and now.

Paige had invited Todd, Kristy and Michael to join us for lunch. I sat at the table with my little family (minus the gradsons) around me enjoying a celebratory lunch reveling in their love and God’s goodness to me. We share a closeness that I wish more families had. We ate and the other three headed off in their own directions and I spent the rest of the day with my girl.

I wanted to go to Whole Foods and walk up and down the aisle to see the many choices of organic food they had and my wish had been granted. I was overwhelmed with the store; almost too many foods to pick from! Paige took me to another stop that I needed to go to then we were off on a shopping marathon. She and I are 2-3 hour maximum shoppers! We were able to find a couple of tops and a swimsuit for me. My children are taking me to the Bahamas later in the year thus the need for a suit. We ended our day with a healthy smoothie. Yum, yum! I drove home and crashed on the sofa sleeping until 7 P.M..

I awoke early this morning. I was planning on walking the Race for the Cure downtown Boise with Kristy and Paige. Paige rang the doorbell shortly after 7 A.M.. She brought me a gift from Michael; Under Armour sports socks complete with the cancer bow on them. Smiling I took off my other footies and placed Michael’s gift upon my feet. We headed out the door.

I confess that I really detest large crowds and I knew I would be surrounded by thousands of people. Although nervous it was something that I wanted to do this year. With your generous donations supporting me, we were able to donate over $1600.00 for Komen Race for the Cure. The last time I checked I was the 2nd highest individual with the most donations. The company I work for; Farm Credit was also in the top five teams contributing to the cause. I walked the 5k race with my sister-in-law (April), my niece and her husband (Sharon and Josh Gerving) and my two daughters (Paige and Kristy). I was so proud and blessed to have my family support me with their presence. We finished the race then Paige and I headed to Blue Sky Bagels for our treat. After each chemo treatment we always treated ourselves to a bagel and it was fitting to finish my year-long treatments and the race with one last bite of goodness. We drove home.  I relaxed on my patio, listening to the trickling water fountain, enjoying the beauty of my tiny courtyard thinking once again how fortunate I am.

Now it is time to put this past year behind me and forge a new beginning. Blessings to each of you who make my life so very special.

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PS These ‘hunka, hunka burnin’ loves’ are NOT part of my new beginnings.

 

 

One Year

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I was given the diagnosis of my breast cancer over the phone. Shocked and with tears in my eyes I returned the phone to its cradle. I walked into a co-workers room to share the news and asked her to cover the front office for me while I went home. Joey immediately rose from her chair and with compassion in her eyes reached out to hug me. She briefly held me. I don’t recall what she said but I can still feel the warmth of her embrace. Her eyes met mine and I knew her heart felt my pain. With tears streaming down my face I left the office and headed home.

I called my family to give the news we already suspected but were waiting to have confirmed. I told everyone that I wanted to be alone that day to wrap my head and my heart around the diagnosis. In retrospect that was unkind of me to do. I just could not look upon their faces and deal with anyone else’s pain but my own that day. I knew that I was asking a great deal of my family to give me alone time. As hard as it was my sister and son obeyed my wishes. However, my daughter did not.

I heard the doorbell ring. I was aggravated. My nose was red and bulbous from crying so hard. My eyes were swollen and looked like tiny slits. I confess I did not want to go to the door and greet whoever was on the other side. Reluctantly I unlatched the lock opening the door.  There stood my daughter, Paige.  I could tell she had shed tears too.  The look on her face told me she could not honor my wishes to be alone although she wanted to. Her arms were filled with food from Texas Roadhouse. She tried to smile.  Tearful and jokingly she said, “ We always eat our stress Mom, so I brought steak and potatoes. You might not be eating as much during chemo treatments so let’s enjoy food while you can.” We ate. 

We talked about what was to come in my life and the impact it would have on those I love and who love me back.  We talked about my grandsons. We cried.

Once again my life would change. In time it would return to normal. Only it would be a “new normal”. A normal that would include doctors, hospitals and treatments just as it had with my husband. I knew too much and looked at my new normal with great trepidation. I also knew our family would adjust.  Our lives would revolve accordingly. This time however, I would be the patient and not the caregiver. I was born to take care of others. It is one of my gifts. The shoes I wore as caregiver would now be removed and placed upon the feet of others. Now my grown children would be involved with the doctor visits and my care. They and my sister would be my caregivers. This was a major shift in roles for me.

Paige stayed with me for several hours that night.  The time approached for her to go home and get her boys ready for bed. She rose from the sofa and said, “Mom, I need to go home now but we need to pray before I leave.”

When my sister and I have serious praying to do we kneel at the sofa. I left my wingback chair and headed toward the sofa thinking Paige and I would kneel and pray there too. She met me in the middle of the room with out-stretched arms. We stood with our arms wrapped around each other. Standing there, we prayed.

We did not ask for healing although it was understood that each of us desired that very thing. We believe that God still heals in miraculous ways. He also heals through doctors and medicine.  And sometimes He heals by taking us home. We had the assurance I would be healed one of those three ways. Healing was not asked for. It was expected.

We were both crying as we took turns praying; offering up our heart’s concerns to God. We prayed for our family. For comfort, grace and strength to endure whatever would come my way. We prayed wisdom for the doctors that would be dealing with my case.  We asked God to guide and direct all my health care providers. Standing in the middle of my living room we prayed believing.

 All of this happened one year ago today, yet I can still feel her sweet arms around me and hear her broken voice as she cried out in prayer to God. It was an extremely tender and emotional time for the two of us. It is a precious memory that will be forever stamped upon this mother’s heart; my beautiful daughter praying a beautiful prayer for the mother she loves.

This past year has been tumultuous. My body has undergone major surgery, chemo every three weeks and radiation. There were many complications with my meds. I put on the brave face but I have never been so sick in my life. Some days it was a major effort to go to work. I often napped from 5:30 to 7:00 pm and fell into bed again by 9:30 pm.  Physically I do not feel on the top of the mountain but I have definitely left the dark valley and a smile has returned to my face. I owe it all to the prayers of those who care.

I have said this many times before but it is true; the outpouring of concern and love for my family has been overwhelming. I believe God answered our prayers. The things we prayed for; wisdom, grace and strength to endure were given. In May I will finish one complete year of treatment. God is good and I am blessed. Truly blessed.

 

Grief

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This has been an overwhelming year of emotions for many of my friends. Since May of 2012 six of my friends and acquaintances lost their spouses; Judy lost Don, Rhonda lost Dick, Doug lost Judy, Karen lost Jim, Jack lost Pam and Nancy lost Dee. My friends, John and Kathy lost their sweet daughter. Sharla and David two daughters died in one tragic car accident.

My son referring to Sharla and David’s loss said to me, “I feel so bad for them Mom. I just don’t know what to say to comfort them.” My response to him was, “ Say nothing. Just hug them. Sometimes holding someone silently in his or her sorrow is more comforting than any words you can speak.”

All of these families are struggling to cope. Dealing with the raw pain is so very difficult. Although I have walked sorrow’s road I cannot honestly say that I totally know the extent or depth of their heartache. Grief is such a personal thing.

Michael’s mother, Wanda gave me a book after my husband died. Don’t Take My Grief Away by Doug Manning is an excellent book that speaks of dealing with grief. No one likes pain. Grieving is painful. It is human nature to try to avoid that painful process. However we must take the time and feel the pain in order to heal. Every individual’s timetable for healing is unique.

In his book Doug Manning states, ‘Grieving is the natural way of working through the loss of a love. Grieving is not weakness nor absence of faith. Grieving is as natural as crying when you hurt, sleeping when you are tired or sneezing when your nose itches. It is nature’s way of healing a broken heart. Grief is not an enemy-it is a friend. It is the natural process of walking through the hurt and growing because of the walk. Let it happen.’

A cut hurts. It forms a scab in order to heal. Eventually it falls off but it leaves a scar. A reminder you have been injured. Losing someone you love is similar to that.

People mourn the loss of a loved one in death and others because of divorce. In order to heal and move forward they must feel the pain.  The hole in their heart will be there but the anguish will not always be as raw or as deep as it is today. A scar fades with time. Time also has a way of softening a broken heart. Sometimes the best thing we can do for someone who is mourning a loss is to allow him or her the time to heal.

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.”