Friday, April 25, 2014


While in the hospital saying goodbye to Babooshka, Nelya had asked Irina to ask me what my favorite color was.


On Monday night I headed over to my neighbor's house to bring them dinner.  When thinking of what I could possibly do to help during this hard time, dinner seemed to be the first thing that popped in my mind. I wasn't planning on staying, but you can't enter a Russian household without being filled with love and food. Nelya prepared four cups of tea, and motioned for me to sit in Anna's chair. The flowers I brought the family Tuesday night were sitting by her chair, they again thanked me for the gracious gift and returned their gratitude in the form of a small box.

Nelya motioned for me to open the box. As I untied the blue satin ribbon that held the box together, my eyes came upon the most beautiful topaz necklace made by Nelya. Irina spoke in Russian and Leon translated, "It is semi-precious, the stones." It wouldn't have mattered if it was made out of plastic, this necklace instantly became incredibly valuable, it was in memory of Anna.

We shared dinner together, while laughing and talking. Leon shared photos of Anna they had printed for her funeral on Monday. Her clothes were hung on a aluminum hanger in the hallway with her white shoes beside them. I couldn't believe she was gone, it is all still very surreal. Leon said I could go look into her room, as it was just how she left it. Her twin bed perfectly made pushed against the wall. Her little vanity area where she got ready for the day and upon the wall hung the photograph I had given them for Christmas.

After dinner we shared chocolate, a very Russian tradition. Nelya said it was chocolate covered birds milk and was something Anna enjoyed. As I left they house the insisted upon giving me more food.

"Niet," (no) but they wouldn't accept that reply.

"Ya tebya lyublyu." Irina corrected me and said, "Ya tebya lyublyu vas," is plural. 

I carried a handful of chocolates down the stairs and over to my apartment. Goodnight my friends, goodnight.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Russia will Always Have a Piece of My Heart.

Leon called last night as I had walked in the door, I didn't answer as I was putting all my things down. No sooner had the call ended that I received the most painful text, "Hey Nicole, it's Leon, I just wanted to tell you that Babooshka had a heart attack and is in cardiac arrest and she is on life support. She is going to pass tomorrow morning."

My fingers couldn't dial fast enough. No answer. I began texting, "Where is she, can I come see her?" I grabbed my keys and headed out the door to Cedars Sinai. I was more emotional than I had been with Goose. I would assume the complete shock of things and the sudden digression would be what played into these extreme emotions. Seperstein Critical Care Unit, room 7S26, lay the most beautiful woman. As I walked into the room I embraced Nelya, so tight neither of us wanted to let go as we cried in each others arms. I then walked over to Irina and gave her a hug. We had to place yellow robes on as we entered the room. I listened as a Russian nurse explained things to the new American nurse taking over. All of her vital signs.

Nelya had fed her mother Easter dinner at 6:00pm on Sunday night, shortly after, at 6:15, she had a heart attack. They called 911 and rushed her to the hospital. Once at the hospital the doctors found that her brain activity was dead and her kidneys had failed. Irina turned to me and said, "Jesus took her on his day." I asked the family how to say I love you in Russian, "Ya tebya lyublyu." As I combed her silver hair on her head with my fingers, I whispered in her ears, "ya tebya lyublyu." Irina told her grandmother that Nicole the photographer was there. I continued to rub her hair as her eyes opened and her mouth began to move. I would like to believe she was trying to talk to me. Nelya asked Irina to ask me what my favorite color was, she wanted to make me a jewel necklace in memory of Anna.

"Yellow," but what was her favorite color? They discussed and replied, "We don't know."

As we sat in the waiting room while they changed her bed, Leon and his grandfather Yuri arrived. We talked about my trip to Russia and the good timing of it. Leon said, "She really loved her, you made her happy." We laughed about my experience. Leon said Babooshka got sick last week with pneumonia and was in the hospital. They released her Thursday and the family didn't tell me because they didn't think it was anything big.

I turned to Leon, "I am kicking myself in the butt for not getting a photo of all of you together." He said, "I know, I should have pursued that." I had told the family I wanted to take a photo of all of them, somewhere between my busy schedule and life, the photo was never taken. Photos are incredibly valuable and priceless. I will forever be grateful for the photograph that began this beautiful friendship and never again will I delay on a prompting to take a photo because time is not forever.

April 22, 2014 at 9:20pm, Anna Podlesnykh, aka Babooshka joined the angels.

Here are the journals from the trip to Russia. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dorothy Maloney.

"My name is Dorothy, like the Wizard of Oz," said  the most life-filled and energetic 93 year-old I have ever met.

There is something about small towns that I absolutely love. The unity, the serenity, the country. Ok, make that there are many things I love about small towns. My mom's good friends own a 700 acre ranch in Bitterwater, California. Most have never heard of this town, the closest city is King City, and if you haven't heard of that, perhaps you have heard of the Pinnacles.  The Pinnacles are beautiful rock formations made from volcanos many years ago and now a national park.

When mom asked if I wanted to come up to this town and photograph some things, I was slightly hesitant, being the same weekend as General Conference and a good friend's birthday. She made it quite impossible to refuse her offer, so my bags were packed at 5am on Friday morning as we made our way up north. Once in the town we made our way to this beautiful house where Tim and Nancy live. Everyone knows about everyone, which I suppose you could take that in a good or bad way, but I loved it.

In the past 48 hours, I have fed cows, birthed kittens, saving one of them, seen a car burn, volunteered at service auction, and met the most beautiful and interesting woman; Dorothy Maloney. Dorothy is from New York, she came here to King City after her husband, the love of her life, passed away.  She worked at an electricity company and her husband was head of the english department at New York University.  She waited 15 years for him, and another 6 years before she could marry him because he was Irish Catholic and had to wait until his mother passed away to get married. When she spoke of her husband, her eyes lit up as she had a smile from ear to ear. Her daughter had moved to King City, so she sold everything in New York and headed to CA. She didn't know a soul so she walked the streets, met everyone, and now is quite famous in the town. She is beautiful, inside and out. This woman was so inspiring, humorous, and just everything you could want in a friend, a mother, and a grandmother. She loves to read and one day her great grandson asked her, "Great grandma, do you read with your head or your heart," I can answer that for her, there isn't anything this beautiful woman does without her heart.

Meet Dorothy:

My world... my thoughts

I can't apologize if you don't like what you read I can only apologize that you stumbled on my page.