Happy 24th birthday Sam

Sometimes it takes a cowboy to bring it all together.  Baxter Black is a cowboy poet and a man who appreciates the fact that he is an American.  More importantly, Baxter appreciates the sacrifices of the men and women of this country who have given their lives for our freedom.

Sam’s medical status (from Sam’s mother-in-law Julie):

I visited Sam on Friday and witnessed a very inspirational Sam.  He was talkative and expressive.  Erin said, “Sam—Say the Marine Corp Hymn.”  Sam recited:

“From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, We will fight our country’s battles in the air, on land, and sea;  First to fight for right and freedom and to keep our honor clean;  We are proud to claim the title of the United States Marines.”

He was proud to say it, as I saw it in his eyes the pride of being a marine.  I saw Sam drive the motorized wheel chair and watched him concentrate with such intensity.  I saw him do speech therapy where he clearly spoke the words the therapist was looking for.  I was so inspired by how hard Sam has to work everyday for several hours a day.  I’ve never seen Sam look so well and talk so much.

Sam’s medical status (from Sam’s father Eric):

Good Morning All,

I haven’t had as much fun at a birthday party in years as I did yesterday with Sam…His Mom, Kelley and I had come to celebrate another year in his life and we felt like we were the ones who walked away with the presents. He was alert, participative, and happy. He got to taste the frosting of his cake (Sam’s favorite: Yellow cake with Chocolate frosting) that we had brought for all the staff, the correctional officers that have taken such an interest in his ongoing progress, and fellow patients. I had a picture of him licking his finger after plunging it into a piece of cake, but alas it Sam'sB'day_kentfield_8_12_08 was blurry…He opened his packages (1st picture) with minimal help from Erin, to get cd’s, mind building games, and t-shirts for physical therapy. He’s is reading with a little help to make out the words. (They seem to have to be at least 2″ high and bold print) Erin has painstakingly made him several reminder sheets for him to read throughout the day. “I am getting better every day”, or “I am at Kentfield Rehab Hospital”…As She composes these and other documents for his “book”, She’ll ask him how to spell words…He is getting faster at his responses and at least a 90% accuracy! Usually it is one letter at a time, but yesterday he spelled Sabrina like “SAB-R-INA…and very fast too. (one of his Physical Therapists)

The last ten days have been incredible to witness. He has taken a huge step forward with his speech ability and cognitive powers. Tony, Sam’s Father-in-law, said it best; “God is really working on Sam right now!” I couldn’t agree more and is just God being God. He is faithful to his promises and delivers mercy where and when he sees fit. As God restores his speech; I’m excited because now Sam can express his faith in his own words. I was talking to him yesterday and reminding him of his eventual and total restoration by God and then told him I believe it and hope you do also. He looked at me and said, “I do!” I have been really interested in the meaning of names lately since I am expecting my first grandchild on Christmas Day. (Marty & Helen have chosen Victory!_Sams 24th birthday_kentfield_8_12_08 Evan, Sam’s middle name) Samuel means “Called of God” and Evan short for Evangelos means “to bring the good news”.  So if you put them together it means “Called of God to bring the good news”…Nichols is from Nicklaus which means “Victorious People”. (See the 2nd pic for Sam’s Victory Salute)….Anyway, he is doing great! He and Erin have cute names for each other just as most couples do. Sam hasn’t used those in over a year, but started again a few days ago. Erin will say, “Sammy Bear” and he’ll respond with “Ernie Bird”. It is just precious. When Erin walks in the room she’ll say “Marco” to a resounding “Polo”. She came in one day and he told her she is “A once in a lifetime wife”. Of course she said, “I’d better be”. Ha! He seems to like saying wife because as Erin arrived one day, he said; “I’m just waiting for my wife”.

He was in the gym yesterday with his Occupational Therapist, and she was impressed by his endurance…4 sets of reps on the cables. As she took him back to his room, she noticed something that I hadn’t before. She said that whenever Sam is wheeled by the Correctional Officers, (This hospital treats inmates from a prison right down the road) they all stand as he passes. She said they don’t do that for anyone else. Some are Marines formerly on active duty, but ALL support Sam and Erin. When Erin went to Denver recently, one of the guys came to me to see if he could take up a collection for Erin. How sweet is that? He has been blessed with many therapists and staff that see to his needs as if he were family. They all seem to care about his comfort. One of his nurses (a gentleman) is from the Philippines and when he found out Sam had been there in charge of a squad to help them recover from some horrendous mudslides, he made a friend for life.

Sam had a small episode yesterday and while kind of scary when happening, just continues to reassure me of God’s sovereignty. He became very sleepy and just drifted off into a deep sleep in just a matter of minutes. He began to have some rather noticeable jerks in his left side mainly. It was right when he was scheduled for an afternoon session of Physical Therapy. They couldn’t wake him and they do that by running their knuckles up and down his breast bone. I’d wake up swinging. Ha! They went to get the doctor on call (not his own) and she was perplexed. She thought it was a focal seizure but if the left side of his brain was seizing; (what happened 4 weeks ago) then the jerks would be on his right side. Erin wasn’t alarmed and neither was I, but we can’t say the same for the staff. I started to pray and about 35 minutes into this nap, he coughed and woke up like nothing had happened. I immediately thought that the Holy Spirit was quickening him for another advancement. Well, Happy Birthday Sam from God…Other than that he has no new medical challenges. He is being fitted for a new test device that delivers electrical impulses to his left arm that may lend aid to it’s movement. Think, six million dollar man…

As I sit here and prepare this update I am reminded of something very cute I’d like to share about Sam and Erin. Erin told me this while Donny and I spent a few days with them in Oceanside before his second deployment to Iraq. They have had squabbles and quarrels just like any other young and loving couple. One time while they were having just such a spat, Sam came with a glass of Nestlé’s Quik and asked if she wanted to talk. Ever since then, this chocolate drink has been a peace offering between the two and the beverage of choice for make-up. If the world could only take a clue…

Much Love,

Eric

Hot off the presses from Erin via text message this morning: Sam just sat for 3 minutes balancing on his own.

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14 Responses to Happy 24th birthday Sam

  1. Please tell Sam that the Freeport Flag Ladies have not forgotten him! We are cheering to hear of his good progress! He is in our Hearts and in our prayers.

    We are so proud of him and honor the sacrifices he and his family are making. He is one of the heroes on whose sacrifices the freedom of this country rests.

    God bless and keep him

    Love, Elaine, JoAnn & Carmen

  2. Aunt Tammy says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Sam! We love you.

  3. 1godsgal says:

    You would not believe how many people are lifting him up from Southern Oregon. I’ve been following for awhile now, our son is leaving for Iraq in September…Remember Sam, Kelly and family…You can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you. I looked it up in Hebrew, ALL means ALL….

    Love you guys, you are part of our family, and praying without ceasing for you.

    Deborah

  4. julie morelli says:

    Happy Birthday Sam! You’re working so hard and making such great strides!! Sitting up for 3 min balancing on your own!! YAY! This is fantastic news! God is good! You are in my thoughts and prayers daily as are your wonderful , AMAZING, loving family. You are all such a blessing.

    julie
    Soldiers Angel

  5. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY SAM!!!! What a glorious day it must have been — just to have you HERE to celebrate is the greatest present on the planet!! Wish I could give you a ginormous hug in person, but for now you will just have to accept one over the wire. 🙂 Just wait till 25, you’ll be running around hugging everyone at your huge party not in a hospital, talking up a storm, singing the Marine Corp Hymn like Luciano Pavarotti. Oh yes you will!! And yum-o for yellow cake with chocolate frosting!! MMMM MMMM GOOD….

    Boy these updates just keep getting better and better. With each one you are doing more and more. And now you’re sitting for 3 minutes on your own. YOU GO SAM!!! Yes, GOD IS GOOD!!! You’re really getting there!! And thanks so much for sharing your pics too – I don’t think I’ve ever looked at one of you 2 and didn’t say to myself “wow, just look at that love”.

    God bless you Sam and Erin, you guys inspire me like nobody can. You always will. Out here we’re all so proud of you both and it’s an honor and a privilege to know you!! Please know and never forget that we’re praying for you, praying with you, and that thoughts, prayers, support and LOADS of Angel Hugs come your way every single day. YOU GUYS ROCK!!! And God bless you the Nichols & Neria Families – big hugs to you all!!

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

  6. Mike & Dolly says:

    Happy Birthday Marine,

    I have been following your progress and you are doing great. Erin hats off to you for being being his rock. We look forward seeing you again.

    Mike

  7. Karen Christensen says:

    Happy belated birthday Sam.
    We love you and think of you countless times every day.
    May God bless and keep you in his never ending care.
    Love to you and Erin
    Chip, Karen ,Erik and Steven

  8. Margaret Helms says:

    I have been following and looking forward to all the news about Sam since it has been a blog.
    I met Erin’s Dad once after he came back to Citrus Heights from Bethesda.He purchased several Corpsman Coins for me.
    My husband was a Corpsman to the Marines for 8 out of his 21 years Navy.If he was still here we would have been to see Sam but I lost him Oct. 2006 and then my son last Nov.
    Sam is an amazing young man. God Bless him and Erin.
    Marge

  9. Lynne says:

    I have been looking at Sam’s web site for the past several months and he is doing just great! My son Gabe was wounded in Afghanistan last weekend and is coming back to California tomorrow. He will be in the hospital for awhile, but we are just glad he will be home and safe. God bless all our troops – especially the Marines!

    Proud to be a Marine wife and mother – Semper Fi,
    Lynne

  10. Wanda Simpson says:

    Dear Sam and Erin,
    I must tell you, I cried tears of joy when I read the latest news about Sam’s progress.

    This blog is just so great about keeping us all updated and makes us pray even harder for Sam. Thanks to all of you who contribute to it.

    May God continue to bless and keep you both, Sam and Erin. We give him all the glory for the wonderful progress Sam is making. And Erin, I must say, you are the best wife a guy could ever have! I pray that God will continue to give you strength and knowledge to help Sam.

    With loving thoughts to you both,
    Wanda Simpson

  11. Steve Marquez says:

    Happy Birthday SAMurai! The Best Warrior I have ever Known!

  12. Carol Calloway says:

    Belated Happy Birthday, Sam! I am so glad to hear how well you are doing. I said to my family when we found out you were out of the coma, “God will heal Sam! Don’t as me how I kow this but I know it. It is just faith.” And God is showing me that my faith is not misplaced.

    You and Erin just hang is there. You are a tough Marine, Sam, but so it your wife, Erin. My husband always said it takes just as much courage to be a military wife and is does to be the active duty military person. I don’t know about that but I do know that sometimes it is HARD to be the wife.

    God bless you both and as always I will continue to pray for your complete recovery.

    Carol

  13. Wendy says:

    How is the young man who is “Called of God to deliver good news?” I am continually amazed as I read your progress. I have no doubt that you have been powerfully, effectively bringing good news to everyone’s lives you touch. It’s funny, you are there for restorative care and treatment; yet, I would bet you anything that you have provided the same for everyone out there- in a spiritual or emotional sense.
    I have always thanked every soldier I’ve seen for serving our country, protecting our freedom, for protecting our very lives. Sam and Erin–THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU—for all that you have done, and all you continue to do. I will dilligently pray for your strength, healing and restoration. Sam, one day, you will be able to pick up your mat, and walk! Won’t that be spectacular??!!! 🙂 God Bless you! –Wendy

  14. John Piowaty says:

    this from a USAF fighter pilot, 102 missions over North Viet Nam and still flying, testing equipment that will provide security for our young men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan. The River Rats (pilots who flew across the Red River of NVN) Newsletter today heralded Samuel Nichols, a wealthy Quaker who was commissioned by Alexander Hamilton to organize the MARINES. God works in mysterious ways. Bless you, the Samuel Nichols of this century and all who have heeded their country’s call.

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