There is something wise about this little boy. Not yet 4, he knows about shots and tubes and doctors. He knows cancer.
He asks for the little pill, Zofran, by name when he feels sick to his stomach. He knows that when people die they go live with God in heaven.It lives inside his brain, this cancerous tumor shaped like an egg, trying to grow, unwilling yet to be beaten back by the harsh drugs with big names. But much more important than that tumor is that Dominick Wells is a little boy, who likes "Star Wars" and Winnie the Pooh, who is partial to slices of cheese and can draw pictures with his left hand or his right.
In his little boy voice he matter-of-factly offers you a cold drink when you come to his house. With outstretched arms, he makes you give him "a big hug and a big kiss" when you leave.
This is the boy, and the family, that Marcia Hogan helps.
It's not easy for a family to ask for help, even a family that is tired by the crushing weight of caring for a very ill child. So Kaleidoscope Kids, a program offered through Community Nursing Services, has volunteers who go to the homes of sick children, 150 since the program began in 1995.
Kaleidoscope Kids offers families a person willing to do almost anything. Marcia Hogan considers herself a second pair of hands for Dominick's mom, Cheri.
Now when Hogan arrives for her twice-weekly appointments, Dominick drags a chair over to the sink. He knows Hogan's first stop is the kitchen, where she does the dishes. He, of course, is helping.
For two months, Hogan has come to help Wells and her husband, Douglas, with whatever chore they might most need. Sometimes she vacuums, or tends Dominick's brother, Logan, 1. Sometimes she plays with Dominick so Logan can have his own time with his mom.
Hogan knows she isn't supposed to get close to families and ill children. She knows the risk of falling in love with a person who is battling a supreme war in the tiniest cells of his body.
But this is a child you love, who loves you. One day, as Hogan walked toward Dominick holding a pair of his shoes she jokingly said "the shoe lady" was coming.
"You aren't the shoe lady," little Dominick said. "You are my best friend."
Hogan is 48 and lives in Sugar House. She's been a hospice volunteer for more than two years. But Kaleidoscope Kids is different. The patients are children, and unlike hospice, they aren't always terminally ill.
Her first Kaleidoscope Kid was a preemie, whose family she helped for three months. Dominick, to whom she was officially assigned on May 28, is the second.
She says she doesn't prefer caring for adults or children. Each requires different talents, different gifts."Every patient has given me something that has enriched my life in some way. I think they give more to my life than I give them," Hogan said.
The family is glad to have Hogan as part of their lives.
"She's like an extra mom or a grandmother," says Wells, 24, whose parents and in-laws live in Michigan. "She is someone to talk to and to help when the healthy child gets neglected a little."
The copyrighted Kaleidoscope Kids program started in North Carolina, a way to fashion in-home care specifically for children. Community Nursing Services has offered the service to many Utah communities from Ogden to Payson. Today, 20 sick children and their families are being helped by volunteers.
Hogan downplays the importance of what she does and praises Dominick's mom and dad, who are raising a bright, happy, affectionate boy.
"She's a terrific mother," Hogan says. "But there are times when Dominick will grab me and say, `Come over here and sit with me.' . . . I just love him. I love them all. They give me so much."