Archive for February, 2011

Overlooking All the J’s

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 24th, 2011Friendship, Uncategorized, writing4 Comments

We all need a little help now and then

Last week I heard from one of the editors who helped form me as a writer. It has been more than twenty years since I submitted my first article to him, and we stay in touch. The magazine he worked for no longer exists, but the lessons he taught me remain. One lesson is how to be merciful. After I’d written several articles for his regional magazine, I approached my editor about an idea for a novel. Since the publishing team was thinking of moving in that direction, they were willing to take a look.

A few weeks later, I handed over two-hundred pages of manuscript typed on a manual typewriter. As my editor placed the bundle in his car, I said, “It has a few extra “J’s”. Just watch out for those.”

He raised his eyebrows. “What?”

“Extra J’s. The J key is kind of touchy, and my index finger must have a twitch. About every sixth line, I hit a J before I started typing the next word.”

And do you know what this experienced editor did? This University of Missouri School of Journalism graduate just smiled and said, “Okay. I’ll watch out for that.”

I cringe at the memory. But he went on to edit the manuscript with great depth and sincerity. He told me which lines were good. Which ones should go. And then he asked me a series of questions to help make an actual novel out of the pathetic, skinny, worse-than-rough draft I had turned in.

I still haven’t published that book. But I work on it every few years. This week, when I hit one of my lowest spots in strength, hope, vision, and creativity my editor friend sent me a note. He told me about a writing book he’d discovered and how he thought I might like it, too. Then he told me he likes my blog.

And there it was again. Mercy. Encouragement. Affirmation. A reason to keep going as a writer even when life is full of extra “J’s”.

Thanks, Dick.



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No More Weary Afternoons

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 17th, 2011mercy, The Bible11 Comments

This is a picture of our daughter, Serenity, Day One, Week Three in the chemo pod. Doesn’t she look lovely? Her husband Michael bought this beautiful wrap for her on Valentine’s Day. See how the color lights up her pale face? And brings a sparkle to her eyes where the lashes are too few to hold makeup anymore? Pure loveliness.

The wrap also hides the tubes snaking into her arm and delivering the poison that will both cure her and carry her to the edge of death every day. Michael and I have learned the scenario by now. She starts every morning like this. Smiling, brave, chatting with us about life and love. We watch the decline as each of the nine bags of fluid flow through her veins.

We know pretty much when the nausea will hit. And the restlessness that makes her want to crawl out of her skin. We can anticipate the hour when fatigue will take over. We need a better word than “fatigue.” Something that says life-sucking, bone-sapping, death-might-be-a-relief weariness beyond words.

We don’t take pictures in the afternoons.

She will fight off the effects in the night. A little less successfully every day. But, in the morning, she will appear at my hotel room door smiling (sometimes with her eyes closed) and ready to go. (though she has to sit on the elevator floor for the ride some days.)

Michael and I are watching the cycle of life unfold every single day. From birth to death and back again.

This is our last week for such torture. And the prognosis is excellent. Yet, we can’t leave the chemo pod without being fully aware that someone else’s wife or daughter is just entering the fray. Someone else’s son or husband is just getting the devastating news.

And that is why I’m eagerly watching for Jesus to return. Not because I simply want to escape the trouble of this earth. But because I know God never meant for us to live this way. No matter how young and vibrant I might feel today, (I don’t) my eventual tomorrow will be weakness, infirmity, and possibly disease. With death at the end.

But there is a Day coming when all that will fade away. We will live in a new earth like the one God originally created. We can only speculate what it will be, of course. But we know it will be filled with love, because that is God’s nature. And discovery, because He let Adam name every animal. And relationship, because He created Eve.

I catch a glimpse of it sometimes. When I drive down a peaceful country road, marveling at the beauty, and I wonder how much I will love nature in its perfection. Or when I walk a city street at Christmastime, soaking in the lights and sparkle,  and I wonder what it will be like to live constantly surrounded by music, glory, peace, and joy.

I love my life, and I’m really not in a hurry to leave. I look forward to growing old with the man I love and to watching our great-grandchildren take their places in this world. But, I’m also looking forward to that other world where there will be no more weary afternoons. No more death and separation. No more war. No more tears.

Just Life. Lots and lots and lots of Life.

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Oh, Happy Day

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 14th, 2011family, happy endings1 Comment

The first card Wendell ever gave me was a giant version with a dancing Snoopy from Peanuts on the front. Underneath it said, “Since I met you…”

Inside, Snoopy bounced off the page with a little coiled spring, and the tag line read, “my feet have never touched the ground.”

I was eighteen at the time. And I was naive enough to believe we’d never lose that spring. But, our feet have touched the ground several times in the decades since. Fortunately, we’ve faced all those hard times together. We’ve held onto one another and to God, vowing never to let go of either one.

And, as it turns out, I’m as grateful for the days of trudging through as I am for the days of dancing — as long as we do them together.

Happy Valentine’s Day the man of my dreams and my reality.

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A Room with a View

By Kathy NickersonFebruary 6th, 2011family4 Comments

My mom is in the center, surrounded by her friends Francis and Lou Etta

Thanks to a friend of a friend on Faceobook, I just realized my mom washed dishes in our school cafeteria for twenty-six years. By hand. I had no idea she was there so long. But, I do have some idea what kind of impact she made. For me, it was quite personal, of course. No matter what was happening in my world, I could tell her about it in the few minutes it took to stand outside her little window and scrape the remains of my lunch into the trash.

She was there the day I got kicked out of geography for swinging the wall map. (My one act of rebellion in an otherwise spotless career.) She was there the day we listened every hour to the lottery deciding which of our classmates would be sent to Viet Nam. She was there the day the vice-principle locked me in the teacher’s lounge to discuss what I knew about his alleged affair with the home-economics teacher. And, she didn’t stay in the kitchen that day! She stormed the hall, assaulted the door, and rescued me from the interrogation.

I’m sure my siblings could all tell similar stories. As could most of my friends and a couple of generations of students I never knew. Now, here is the thing: I’m pretty sure my mother never loved washing dishes. And, I’m pretty sure she wasn’t paid particularly well. But, I think I know why she scrubbed pots in the kitchen all those years.

She wanted to be at the window for us. And, I’m so glad she was.

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