One Year


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.





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


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.”



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.


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


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.

Ushering in 2013


I bought a little book by Brian Morgan. It is about a man who had very little money but he wanted to give something to his friends. He pondered on these things and began to write:

“I pray for you;

Joy in abundance and laughter, for laughter cures our ills and joy makes our spirits soar.

A sigh when you need one, for a sigh clears the heart as as a cough clears the throat, and with a sigh comes acceptance of what we cannot change.

Tears when you need them, for tears clear the eyes to see the stars and cleanse the soul to let healing begin.

Serenity, for fights and wars start in individual breasts and that is where they must end.

Wisdom, for our priceless gift is the gift of choice and we should use it well every day, in word and deed.

Patience, for most troubles pass if we wait them out, and success comes with persistence.

Courage, for there may be many pitfalls and dangers ahead and problems can only be solved when they are faced.

Compassion, for we cannot help others until we understand them, and we cannot understand them until we walk in their shoes.

Willingness to work, for work turns dreams to reality-whether the dreams are ours or belong to those we can help.

Unwavering faith, for faith shapes our morals and our destiny and draws us closer to God.

A mind full of hope, for hope determines our attitudes, sets our goals, and creates our ideals.

A heart so full of love that every day you must give some away to those whose paths you cross.”

This year I have realized that real wealth cannot be measured in riches but rather in family and friends such as you. I, like the author, pray for each of you, gifts that cannot be wrapped. May you experience a rainbow after the storm, smell the sweet fragrance of a rose on a summer day and may a snowflake gently kiss your cheek during winter’s cold spell. I pray you have abundant joy and laughter, enough trials to keep your heart soft, enough failure to keep you humble, and many friends to comfort you. May your heart overflow with love and God’s blessing in 2013. Thank you for touching my heart and life this year.