In monetary terms, the value of a single dime is seldom celebrated.
But to Diane Nicholson, there is immeasurable worth in every 10-cent piece she or a family member finds.
In August 2007, Nicholson’s mom died of cancer.
The two had been extremely close – best friends, who supported each other through good times and bad.
“We were really good friends and did a lot of stuff together,” says Nicholson. “When Mom died, that connection was lost.”
Well, not quite.
As death approached, Nicholson asked her mother to show her a sign that she was OK by sending dimes from the hereafter.
“The reason I said dime was I couldn’t remember ever finding dimes,” she says, noting the coins have shown up in some unexpected places. “The first ones we found were when my dad and I went to the funeral home and there were two dimes – two, one for each of us,” she says.
Another time, a seriously ailing and very worried Nicholson was in her Vernon doctor’s waiting room, when a woman stood up and walked away from a dime that seemed to have jumped out of her purse and rolled across the floor.
While Nicholson and her family are not finding as many as they did at the beginning, her husband did recently locate one just outside the car and mentioned that his mother-in-law had stopped by to say hello.
The first 10-cent reminder of her mother in more than a month, the story has been opened to a world-wide audience as Nicholson shared her story with Chicken Soup For the Soul.
Called Drop a Dime, her story appears in the newly published Angles and Miracles: 101 Inspirational Stories About Hope, Answered Prayers and Divine Intervention.
“The book offers glimpses into the lives of regular people who found themselves in extraordinary, unexplainable situations, their prayers answered and their lives forever changed,” reads a Chicken Soup For the Soul press release.
“It’s about the anonymous angels who touch our heats and save our lives, and the astonishing power we find within ourselves.”
This is the 10th time one of Nicholson’s stories has appeared in a Chicken Soup For the Soul book, with two of them repeated in different editions.
“Mom had seen a blurb about them looking for stories for the first Chicken Soup For the Canadian Soul,” says Nicholson, whose story about the loss of her newborn twins in 1983 was her first entry in the well-loved series.
“I didn’t know they were twins or that they didn’t have kidneys; it was the first time in medical history,” says Nicholson, noting she had already had three miscarriages, and had done a lot of research into grieving and was working with other parents who had suffered a loss. “I knew what to do. We took pictures of the twins and, you know, we held their bodies for a long time after they died.”
She fought with nurses who were horrified about her desire to introduce her three-year-old son to the little boys, who had been born but were never going home.
“He came in and I said, ‘something here is really sad today – you had two brothers. Would you like to see them?’” Nicholson says. “He said, ‘Oh they’re beautiful, can I touch them?’”
Nicholson told her your son the twins were dead and would be cold to the touch. And, after watching him, she says the nurses were dabbing their eyes and saying, “I get it now.”
Nicholson faxed the story on her twin boys to Chicken Soup for the Soul and soon heard from the editor, who called to say he loved the story.
Getting it into the pages of the book that was first published in 2002 took a lot longer.
“It’s a very long process: they pared it down to one of 200 stories,” she says.
“From there it went out to 40 different readers who gave it a one to 10 rating. You had to be 9.8 to get in.”
Nicholson, who has also read other people’s submissions over the years, says the stories cannot be controversial and must be emotive, touching the heart with laughter or tears.
Her next entry was published in Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul, a story she wrote about a young couple she worked with whose child had died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) at three months of age.
“She found the baby dead and didn’t want to sleep there again because death was there,” says Nicholson with compassion. “I sat with her for a very long time. I knew she needed to see this baby again – and the dad wanted to go see her. Despite opposition from the coroner who had already performed an autopsy on the little girl and was afraid the mother would see something that would make matters worse, the parents did visit with the baby.
“After an hour or two, she said, ‘maybe I’ll just go take a peak,” says Nicholson, who then accompanied the parents and was relieved to hear the mom say, “I told you she was beautiful, didn’t I?”
It was the beginning of her healing process and that woman went on to help other people deal with their grief.
On a happier note, Nicholson’s story about the rescue of a seal pup at a children’s zoo in Vancouver where she worked as a teen, was also included in one of the “soup” books.
The mother of two sons, Nicholson and her husband Harry run Twin Heart Animal Sanctuary in Tappen, named because of what she saw during a near-death experience she had.
“It was a big glowing heart, a twin heart,” she says of the loss of her twin sons. “It keeps them with us, and now it helps us help the animals.”