Travel with Smiles

I am reminded today of my first time to take a trip on an airplane. I was 21 years old. I had become a skin care consultant-as I liked to call myself- for Mary Kay cosmetics. So had my twin sister. Their annual convention was in Dallas Texas, and we had decided to invest in our career and attend.

That’s the sequence of success you know. Decide to do something. Recruit your sister. Buy the right clothes. Get a cute briefcase. Get matching office supplies.

All the better, this job included travel! What a treat!

We get dropped off at the airport, and I am actually feeling pretty nervous. My husband wasn’t real crazy about me being away, but was willing. My sister told everyone that this was my first flight. We boarded the plane and got settled in our seats.

Once we were settled, my smile grew and grew. We giggled. We laughed. We were going to have a great time. And we did.

Life moved us to a distant state after that trip and our twin travel ceased. We traveled to see each other. We raised kids, we migrated in and out of Mary Kay, we went to college, we prayed while her son was in Iraq, and we cared for our parents as they each faced different illness and death. We walked with me through a divorce. We cried together and laughed together, but we didn’t travel together.

Then after 33 years, we took a twin trip together. We have taken a trip every year for 4 years. It is a treasure I cherish.

Today we are both traveling-She to another country, me across country. We will miss each other. But we have our next trip in February. What a way to warm the Ohio winter and the heart.

Travel safe my sis! See you soon!

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Sister Spirit

My sister woke me up early today. She wasn’t here. She was 25 miles away at her own house. But I knew she was awake. I could feel the sister spirit  prompting us to get ready for the day. Today Kaye takes her mother-in-law to the Trinity Nursing Home. She is nearly 96 years old and sadly lost her husband about 2 years ago. She is a remarkable woman. She isn’t on any medication and as Kaye has said, walks around like the energizer bunny.

She just doesn’t remember. She remembers some of the old times. She remembers how to smile. She has a delightful sweet spirit and an infectious laugh. She doesn’t remember to turn off the stove. She doesn’t remember how to get home. She will forget to eat if someone doesn’t assist in setting out the meal.

We had to place our mother in a Nursing Home. I prefer the name “assisted living facility”. Nursing homes can carry negative memories for many people. Assisted living sounds more pleasant. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you call it, it is a place to go where you can be loved and safe-but it is away from your home where you nested for decades.

Maybe if this was the first time Kaye had to do this, the sister spirit wouldn’t have gotten me up so early. They don’t go until around 10. But Kaye will not just be taking Marion to Trinity. She will be taking mom. Every memory of the broken, confused expression when you take them to their new room will come flooding back. The words ” I want to go home” will thunder around her heart.

The sister spirit knows, she just knows. I wish I could explain it. I wish I could package it and give it to everyone. But I don’t know exactly what it is. I just know it surrounds us and comforts us and encourages us. It tells us how the other is doing. If one of us is struggling, the other feels anxious. So, she woke me up early. Today is a day that will take extra-ordinary grace and strength. I had to be awake to comfort Kaye.

I will go to work. Kaye will go to Trinity. Twins-who else can be in two different places and yet be together at the same time?

Never Walk Alone

My twin sister and I have already lost our mother. She died of Pick’s disease-which is a type of dementia. It was heart wrenching to see parts of her slip away. Our grieving started 2 years before she died; because a piece of her died every day. That was nearly a dozen years ago.

I recall with tears the days that we had to take precious things away from our mother: her beloved Buick, and her home. She had lost the ability to drive and to live safely in her own home.

Now, my twin sister is facing the sorrow all over again. Her mother-in-law has senile dementia. She is 95 years old and lost her husband about  2 years ago. She is no longer safe to drive, or to live alone. She has moved into my sister’s home. They didn’t have a downstairs bedroom, so they had to empty the den and create a bedroom. It is warm and inviting, but it is not home. Her mother in law misses her home. She misses driving. She asks every day where is her car? She needs to drive home. It is time for her to go home now. Every day my sister has to sit down and lovingly go through the same answers she gave her a few hours ago.

As we journey through life, there are days when we feel as though we are alone on our path. And we may be on the path alone, but people can stand by the wayside and offer water, fruit, and encouragement. Sometimes when people fall,  onlookers are allowed to assist them until they can carry on by themselves again.

I wish I could take my sister’s sorrow away. I wish I could make it not be her path. But it is her path. It is part of her journey. In some ways, I think it could be hurtful to a life journey to take away and alter what we are supposed to do. So I walk along the side. I offer water. I offer food. I step in when she starts to fall. Once she has gained her strength again, I have to go back to the sidelines and walk along the side. I watch to see when I am needed. I want to be ready to give her assistance.

I am close by. I believe our mother is close by. We stand at the ready.  Something wonderful about twins…what ever is happening to the one, the other feels it as though it were happening to her. So, while she may technically be alone during those long hours of concern and sorrow, I am with her in spirit and in energy.

I am reminded of the Rogers and Hammerstein song, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high,

and don’t be afraid of the dark.

At the end of the storm is a golden sky, and the sweet silver song of a lark.

Walk on through the wind,

Walk on through the rain

Though your dreams be tossed and blown,

Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart

And you’ll never walk alone, You’ll never walk alone”

And that is what it feels like to be a twin.