My mother now lives in the downstairs memory care section of the home where my Nana spent the last three years of her life. When Nana was upstairs in the assisted living residential area, one of my former CBS, Community Bible Study, teacher colleagues moved not far down the hall. Kyoko acknowledged me when I’d hug her and said hello then, but she didn’t chat much if I stopped by. She always had a warm smile and responded politely and respectfully. She still had a sweet-nature and was soft-spoken. I think sometimes she remembered me, and sometimes she simply didn’t.
After Nana went home to heaven, I only revisited the home a couple of times. I intended to go back and check on Kyoko, but the demands of daily life and the out-of-town commute soon ebbed away at my best intentions.
When my mom went to live there a year ago, Kyoko had transferred downstairs and was my mother’s next-door neighbor for the first few months before mom got her own permanent room. Most of the memory care residents spend their time in the large community room connected to the dining area.
My mom doesn’t know me or any of my sisters anymore. Shannon, my second youngest sister and mom’s former caregiver, visits mom daily and feeds her one meal, usually dinner on the weekdays on her way home from work, and lunch on the weekends. Kyoko is always there too. Most of my six sisters have come to know her and her gentle ways. She likes to be close to my mother, and she’ll point you to the chair next to mom and bow until you take it.
Many days when I make the commute to visit my mom is sound asleep when I arrive and she’ll doze for hours. It is such a disappointment for me not to catch her awake and alert. She still shows a flicker of a second of recognition, a smile flashes across her sweet face and then she’ll grab for my hand. But when slumbering, mom sleeps deeply. Kyoko is usually sitting on the nearby sofa and she’ll get up, walk over to me and it almost seems like she wants to speak specifically, as a comforting gesture like she can sense the depth of my heartache.
Back when we served together at CBS, we were both core leaders of groups with about fifteen women. One year I was also the secretary and another year I was the Prayer Chairman so our time was interwoven in a variety of additional ways. Kyoko T. was dearly loved by her ladies. She knew God’s word intimately and she lived the grace and beauty of the Lord in every aspect of her petite being. We used to sing together in the leadership meeting circle these beautiful songs of praise and worship and sisterhood. Sometimes we sat next to each other and raised our quiet voices in harmony with fellow CBS sisters gifted with lovely songbird perfectly pitched, and choir worthy cadence.
We also prayed together. That was my closest connection with this humble woman. We shared prayer requests and praises both within the leadership circle and outside of it. She knew all of my sisters names and my mother’s name, Mary. How faithful Kyoko was to remember to ask me about my family, my children, and my husband after a season of intercession.
She shared about her home and the longings in her soul. Those were precious days of special friendship within a circle of women that you often only experience once in a lifetime.
I eventually moved out-of-town and sent Christmas cards which eventually dwindled down over the next decade.
Kyoko’s tender heart remains despite the loss of the memories of herself, her childhood, her family, her country, me and all her other CBS sisters. A loving Father placed her in her current home where she unknowingly continues to be a blessing to my mother and all those around her. I watch the gentlemen and ladies respond to her meek compliance and kindnesses. Her outer image is much altered, but her inner-Christ light shines with a brilliance like a star illuminating a night sky.
I often sing to my mom if she is awake or to Kyoko if my mom is sleeping. Kyoko and I used to hold hands when we sang The Servant Song together in our CBS days. The lyrics hold a much deeper meaning to me now than almost twenty years ago. Kyoko remains a servant-hearted handmaiden of the Lord right where she is. There is hope where there is love.
Posted in Wandering Words | Tagged Alzheimers, CBS, Community Bible Study, commute, friendship, hope, Kyoko, love, memory care, memory loss, neighbor, praise, prayer, sisters, song, teacher, The Servant Song, visit | 7 Comments »
This year we celebrated Father’s Day a little different than the traditional norm.
My middle son called Friday afternoon on his lunch break at work to see if he could drive up with his almost-three-year-old son the day before Father’s Day. A change in plans at home meant his wife would be helping a friend with their wedding preparations.
We immediately said yes and rescheduled our not-so-set-in-stone plans.
I threw together a low-key barbeque menu of ~ hamburgers, our son would provide the meat. My daughter just happened to have made a potato salad that morning. I went with store bought coconut cream pie and chocolate ice cream instead of the usual baked from scratch dessert.
When the two other Joeys arrived, the littlest one was ready for an adventure. He loves the drive out in the country to our home and by the time he is set free from the confines of his car seat, he is bursting with energy to burn.
Our black Lab greeted them at the front door with such enthusiasm, father and son could barely enter. There was a brief petting fest before they advanced to doggie number two ~ the elderly Rottie/Shepherd. “My Jakie, my Missy, I’m here!” Joey promptly helped grandpa feed the dogs their dinner. This was a very big deal, scooping kibble out of the giant bin, dropping the nuggets while listening to the tinkling sound as their shiny metal bowls filled up, and then watching them devour supper without leaving a single morel.
Grandpa Joe went out to the back patio to turn on the propane and the littlest Joey followed, so did the big dogs.They have learned the BBQ means heavenly smells wafting at snout level and sizzling meats of all sorts flipped on the grill may fall to the ground, right into their pouncing paws. They have a strict one second gravity rule. If meat obeys their secret code call, and lands, it’s then an instant canine protein meal.
Some olive oil spilled, This was a disappointment to the dogs, but not to my grandson. He got to use the hose and nozzle to spray down the cement patio, grandpa’s shoes, shorts and shirt, the sunshade, the wicker chairs, and he was aiming for the table when he was redirected out into the yard. He then requested the nozzle be adjusted to the long-range stream setting. He washed our windows and watered the yard. Such a thoughtful Father’s Day gift for his grandpa. Meanwhile his dad made a run to the market a few blocks away to buy the meat.
I set the table and put out some chips and dip for snacking. When my son returned he seasoned the hamburger and flattened out large-sized patties for the buns. Jenny and I relaxed with the guys while the meat cooked. The dogs stretched out at the foot of the barbeque on voluntary guard dog duty.
We all gathered around the table and my husband prayed a blessing. We then chatted about just about everything ~ jobs, summer vacation, retirements, how juicy the burgers were, gluten-free BBQ sauce without high-frutose corn syrup, Buzz Lightyear and how Joey could find Woody on his plate if he sopped up the catsup with his bun. Just family chit-chat.
After dinner my grandson discovered the bright blue, soft cover baseball and bat set I got for his dad. The three Joeys found some dry grass and played ball. They took turns pitching, catching and batting. Ah the simple joy of an impromptu baseball game. It didn’t take our Lab Jake long to figure out that he could play outfield so he positioned himself and waited, He ran infield a couple of times to throw his body into the trajectory of the ball, and came so close, his jaws wide open like a leather glove.
I have to tell you that my grandson has quite an arm. Not that I’m bragging or anything.
We were about to retire inside when I noticed little Joey standing under the plum tree, his back to the rest of us, diligently and ever so quieting picking plums off a low lying branch. One plum went in his right jeans pocket, and one went in his left pocket. Pick, load, and pluck again. Most of the plums are still green, some a red, but several are a ripe squishy purple. Well that industrious fella turned around with an impish grin like he was wearing a double-holster with two six-shooters. He was relieved of his ammunition just in time for dessert. I guess a banana pudding cup and a bowl of chocolate ice cream top contraband with pits.
After a diaper change and little Joey hugs and kisses, they drove off into the sunset.
It was not by any means an extravagant adventure.
It was ~ family play time, meal time, smile and laugh time, talk and share time, and we got to babysit for a while time.
It was ~ perfect. Only one purple plum burst in Joey’s pocket. And that is what memories are made of.
* Note this writer/photographer was having so much fun I forgot to take any pictures. I did shoot the contraband fruit 24 hours later.*
Posted in Wandering Words | Tagged baseball, BBQ, black lab, change of plans, country, family, Father's Day, grandson, hamburgers, hugs, kisses, plums, rottie/shepherd, three Joeys, three-year-old | 4 Comments »
We all have favorite treats, something special.
One of mine is a little bag of Pistachio Cherry Shortbread from a superb local bakery. The cookie bars are perfect with either a strong cup of brewed tea, preferably, Earl Grey, or coffee with raw sugar and half & half.
This is not diet food folks. It is an indulgence.
Currently I am using a special mug at my writing desk. When my husband returned from serving in Desert Storm, I surprised him with a weekend at an exquisite and expensive Bed and Breakfast. I wanted to give him a little luxury after seven months in a combat zone in Saudi Arabia. The coffee mug is a memento. We visited and lingered at the war memorial, walked all over downtown, and ate at ritzy restaurants he didn’t really care for. I think he needed more time to transition from one culture to another and from MRE’s to food with taste and texture.
My heart desired to give my soldier the best after sending monthly boxes with the most requested item for his tour of duty ~ baby wipes to get the sand out of everything, everywhere.
God offers the best, all the time, to everyone. He knows our intimate desires and immediate needs. He nourishes us physically and spiritually with His word. Health for the body and soul. And he isn’t stingy, He fills our cup to overflowing.
All we have to do is receive and ~
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Psalm 34:8
There is a perfect balance in God’s provisions.
I meant well those many years ago. I was trying to make up for losses my husband could never get back and I went a little overboard. He slept a lot that weekend. He just wanted to hold me close.
God knew what was better, the best. And it was freely given.
How simple and loving is that?
Posted in Wandering Words | Tagged baby wipes, Bed & Breakfast, coffee, combat zone, Desert Storm, downtown, good, indulgances, MRE's, nourish, soldier, taste, tea, treats, war memorial | Leave a Comment »