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The Finer Things/Stacey Kukkonen

Be thankful we have each other

November 19, 2011
The Daily Mining Gazette

What am I thankful for? It's an interesting question and one I make a habit to explore this time of year. My family, my friends, my pets and my health, I'm thankful for every day.

And although I think you should be thankful year-round, this year in particular, I'm thankful I live in a small town. Despite your definition of what a small town may be, to me, it's Houghton - small like downstate Ludington from where I hail and the right size for someone like me.

Working and living in a small town can be a blessing or a curse. I'd be lying if I said there weren't days when I want to hide my face behind a paper bag to do my grocery shopping. Sometimes when people recognize my name, I'm a little fearful of what they may say (it's easy and unintentional to upset a lot of people in this job).

Lately, I've been coming across many people who remember who I am, whether it be at the grocery store or my favorite restaurant. There's something so genuine about getting to know the people in your community, and my sense of "belonging" is strengthening.

It was recently while making a trip to the Shopko pharmacy when I realized the fine people behind the counter consistently remember who I am. It brightens my day, as if someone else cares about my well-being.

This week, I took some time out to have a small procedure done at Portage Health. After all, my annual New Year's resolution is to take better care of myself. Just like many others who fear the doctor (IV injections make me shudder, I tell you), I could barely sleep the night before and I checked into the hospital entirely expecting to be shuffled back and forth all morning between nurses, faces blurring in the crowd.

I think it's living in a small town that eradicated that fear once I arrived.

Sandi, the nurse, greeted me at the door and talked casually as we headed to our next destination. She calmed my nerves and talked to me like a real person as she professionally worked through her tasks.

"I have a strong threshold for pain," I told her. "But I hate IV's."

She smiled and gently inserted the IV, and for the next hour, a flood of attentive medical professionals stopped in to greet me and chit-chat. In my mind, I checked them off one by one, hoping my groggy, early morning brain could remember their names in 20 minutes. Mike, Kirk, Rick, ... then my doctor, Rebecca Baudoin, who just joined Portage Health (for which I am very thankful) entered the room.

Being wheeled back after the procedure, I asked my doctor if I had cussed at anyone while under anesthesia (I'm only human, and a random one at that), but what I wanted to do was thank these people for making my day bearable. I happen to think people deserve more thanks for the work they do.

From here on out, I'm challenging myself to get to know people in the community better and I intend to dole out more "thank you's" because it may not be said enough. I challenge you to do the same. You just may find out what you're really thankful for.

So thank you Copper Country community members! You work hard and you make it a fun place to live and work.

Stacey Kukkonen can be reached at



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