Employee Spotlights, Resident Spotlights

‘We’re a bond’: a conversation with Delores and Kathy

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Real stories as told by the people who live and work at Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS).

Delores’s and Kathy’s story

Delores and KathyMeet Delores and Kathy, whose friendship has blossomed over a decade. Together they tell their story to Presbyterian Homes & Services.

“I treasure Kathy very much. We have bonded because of our times in prayer for each other.” —Delores Mixer, resident of Waverly Gardens in North Oaks, Minn.

“Delores is family to me. I just adore her. She is a wonderful inspiration. Her faith, wisdom and prayer have taught me so much.” —Kathy Henry, Waverly Gardens housekeeping assistant

Presbyterian Homes & Services (PHS): Tell us, Delores, about your friendship with Kathy and how she makes you feel.

Delores Mixer (DM): Kathy is very special to me at this time in my life. I am now 100 years old. After the isolation of the pandemic, I call Kathy ‘a breath of springtime.’

Each Monday she comes to my apartment and greets me with such joy asking, “How are you?” And boy, I feel so good today because she tidied up this morning for me. She does a good job, which is important, but she also cares. And I really appreciate that caring.

We have that heart-to-heart connection. We both have Christian faith, and I think it’s important that we pray for each other and each other’s families too.

So, as she goes about her work, I slip in the words, “And how are you today?” We pause and share our needs and concerns for our families — and the joys. We keep everything in secret. Kathy prays for me, and I pray for her. And to see answered prayer is what’s so exciting.

Delores celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends at Waverly Gardens.
Delores celebrated her 100th birthday with family and friends at Waverly Gardens.

PHS: What else do you two like to talk about?

DM: We like to talk about our culinary tastes. We match up with zucchini and eggplant. She recently told me about a dress she ordered to wear at her son’s upcoming wedding. I love stories of young love. I like to show her an article of clothing that I recently bought at a bargain and hear her say, “You have good taste.” We also tell each other about favorites recipes, gardening tips and beauty secrets. Talking about mutual interests has a lot to do with one’s wellness.

PHS: How would you describe your friendship as it’s grown over the years?

DM: Each one that has come and worked has been wonderful, but I think the longer they’re with you, the more you become like family. Kathy and I have bonded because of our times in prayer for each other. The things of the world grow dim. She has a way with bringing into my life the blessings of the Christian faith. I treasure Kathy very much — I could almost adopt her!

PHS: Kathy, how do you feel about Delores? And how did the pandemic bring you closer together?

Kathy Henry (KH): Delores is family to me. I just adore her. She is a wonderful inspiration. Her faith, wisdom and prayer have taught me so much through the years, but especially during the pandemic.

So, each housekeeper was asked by management to isolate to one floor for the safety of residents, and I quickly chose Delores’s floor. She’s just so special to me, and I couldn’t stand to be away from her.

At that time there was a lot of uncertainty, and because of the isolation, we were just worried about one another. So, we’d check up on each other and pray for the world and the unknown. Our friendship became really strong, and we truly care and love each other.

PHS: Delores, what’s life like now, after the pandemic?

DM: It’s just a wonderful, enriching time right now, and I hope more people can experience 100 years. Say, did you see that recent video on Facebook of me dancing on Valentine’s Day?

Yet I like to stress that every age is important, even the young children. I see some of my grandchildren going to college, and so I feel each age is so important. Each day I live with hope. Whatever happens tomorrow or in the next hour is in God’s hands. And I think, maybe God’s not finished with me yet? Maybe he still wants me to be a friend to someone and be an encourager. And then to hear Kathy say about me, “She’s an inspiration,” feels good. I can feel that I’m an instrument, too, of God’s.

PHS: How is this time in your life the same or different from when you were, say, 50 years old?

DM: Oh, it was a family time in my 50s. We were so blessed. My husband was a pioneer in radiology and accumulated vacation time. So, with our five children we rented a Volkswagen bus, tents and sleeping bags and spent seven weeks camping in Europe and visiting eight countries. That’s such a wonderful memory. Since then, we’ve visited every continent in the world.

Later when we retired, we went to Ecuador for three years, doing work at an orphanage. And then we did four years of archaeology in Israel. We had such a wonderful retirement. I encourage others to use those years for enrichment. It keeps your interest up. I’m finding that I still really want to learn something new every day.

And to now have Kathy in my life means a lot to me. My children are so glad that I’ve made friends with Kathy and many here. They’re just an extended family and that helps a lot, especially when I still miss my husband a lot. I find myself telling some of his stories, and that’s a good feeling too — to have a continuation of grief but also a good life here at Presbyterian Homes. It’s a wonderful feeling.

PHS: Kathy, why did you choose PHS and how do you feel coming to work each day?

KH: It’s so nice to work in a Christian community. The residents here are amazing. I connect with all of them very well. Everyone is so kind, so compassionate. You feel the love and warmth. It’s wonderful.

Before this, I had never had a boss. I was self-employed. So that was a huge change for me. I went through a divorce, and I had to find a job. I actually received a job offer on the same day from two companies. Presbyterian Homes was one, and I chose Presbyterian Homes because of the Christian ministry. And it’s been wonderful. It fits well and works really great for me. My supervisor is amazing and everyone here is amazing, the whole staff. And Delores is family to me. She’s kind to everyone, even if she doesn’t agree with them.

DM: We are a bond. This whole Presbyterian Homes community — we’re bonded together as a family, really.

Presbyterian Homes has a spirit that is so encouraging for any age. I admire the workers. It’s a calling for them for sure. They’ve been chosen to do a calling. And you can see it in their lives.

Interested in a PHS career? Advice from Delores and Kathy

Like Kathy, you could also experience the gift of forming strong bonds with older adults, working at a PHS community near you. We always have a wide range of positions open in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin, for a variety of meaningful careers that make a difference. Whether you’re starting out, at mid-career level or looking for a post-retirement career, we encourage you to apply to join our team at preshomes.org/careers and follow our blog.

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