Posts Tagged ‘sisters’

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.




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mom&Jenny dancing1987My mother has Alzheimer’s.

She has eight daughters she doesn’t remember. I am the second born.

In a way, I have a mother, but I don’t. There are flickers of a second of recognition every now and then after almost fifteen years when we all first realized something was wrong. Subtle at first, which is one of the cruelties of this invasive and devastating disease, most families don’t catch onto the unraveling layers for years.

My mother’s eighty-seventh birthday is eleven days away. She doesn’t know who she is, where she is, what year it is, how old she is, or what country she is living in. All once very important facts to her. She was a list maker, organizer, perfectionist, and a hard working woman with a dedicated work ethic. She worked full time and raised seven of her eight daughters with our teacher father who died when they were turning fifty-four.

I miss the mother I knew when I was growing up, when I first married nearly forty years ago, when the grandchildren she so cherished were born, and when mile stone life events happen, like my daughter graduating from college this past December.

There is a hole in my heart that only God can fill with His grace when the loss seems unbearable.

I love the sound of my mother’s laughter, the jibber-jabber she speaks, now the only form of communication she can master, and I love that I can still kiss her, hug her, and tell her that I love her. I know these things even if she does not.

Last year we finally put our mother in a memory care home. Visiting her in a community facility is so different than seeing her in her own home. Something we were able to do for much, much longer than most families because my sister Shannon was mom’s care giver. That blessing took a physical and emotional toll on my sister. She has no regrets, only gratefulness.

Alzheimer’s steals vitality, personality, memory, and eventually mobility. It gives nothing and takes all. It can divide families, another causality most don’t see coming. Each family member deals differently with the onslaught and ravages of Alzheimer’s. Each heart is pierced and broken. Some can talk about it, others never share. But it is always there, ever-present, chippingĀ  away a little more each day.

I find shelter in the shadow of my Savior’s wings. I pour my heart out to Him and he listens and stays as long as I need comfort. Could my mother speak to me, that is where she would tell me to go. She taught me, never knowing the blanks the future held for her, the most important truth. And I know she is not alone in her lullaby land. The God she loved still loves and values her. She has forgotten, but He remembers, cherishes, and calls her by name.

Mom on my chair and ottoman

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2/8 Sisters

I do not know what it is like to be the middle, youngest, or the oldest sibling.
I do not know what it is like to have a brother.
I do know what it is like to always be second.

It is a gift from God.

This photograph was taken by my oldest granddaughter when we visited one of my sisters.
Both of us are writers, children’s authors, and novelists.

My sisters and I arrived as sibling mates, by twos.
I was born one week before my older sister was one year old. So we are close in age, school years, and pecking order.

In this picture, I am the oldest sister. Yay! Remember this image, brand it across your brain and notice how I am at least two to three inches taller, without heels.
We are both in our fifties. I’ll let you guess exactly where in that range we were at the precise moment Meckennah shot this on my cell phone. The clock is ticking and my summer birthday is under a month away, and I will be older, very soon.

So this will be a short blog.

It took me years, decades, to realize the gift God gave me when He chose my placement in the Boyd sister’s birth order. You did notice that I grew up a Boyd sister without a boy, brother. That was a hint of the humor God sprinkled in the sugar and spice that showered from heaven without a hailstorm of snips and snails and puppy dog tails.

Now I am still one of the two older sisters, or elder as our baby sister delights to call us now that we are in our middle-age years. She is the only one still in her forties, as of June of this year. And she’s a pixie that one. You have to watch out for her or in the twinkle of an eye she’ll pinch your cheeks and squeeze a ripple of skin in your upper arm that no longer is firm, young flesh.

But I digress…

I did come along soon after my first sister, the second born ~ I do believe I caught my parents by surprise. I would like to think I was a pleasant kind of a surprise, you know the kind you laugh about in a jovial sort of way, and can’t help but smile and keep smiling.

I used to think God played a joke on me. Ha, ha, ha…
But He actually gave me my first gift and I didn’t even have to open it, it was birthed with me, a part of me, it was me!

Second born, always behind another ahead of me. Never first.

It was a humble gift. The gift of humility. Never the boss of the brood but the second in command, under the leadership of the of one a wee bit older, wiser, bossier…

If I was willing to accept the gift and put it into use for His glory, I would learn much that could be shared and multiplied, and overflow out to others.

I learned from my very first steps to walk in the footsteps of another ahead of me and to shadow those footprints, always a step behind.

It was good training.

Still I tested and sometimes ran ahead, and ended up somersaulting downhill with a big splash into troubled waters.

Lessons are learned quickly in a large family and pointed out by other siblings so that you cannot possibly miss the highlighted moment when the flood lamp of “Tomfoolery” illuminates your slightest misstep or any major blunder.

You are the star, bright and shining in all vibrant shades of crimson with florescent bulbs flashing and popping like firecrackers.

What I did not stop to think about or see was that other little feet were following me. I was too focused on the one I was following, to notice.


Blessed, chosen, called, gifted…
And in the right place, at the right time, for the mission I was born for, for His glory.

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