• by Carolyn Lackey


On Thursday, January 9, 2020, Helen Katherine Williams Kinzbach, aka The Meems, turned 94 years old. NINE-TEE-FOUR.

It was a low-key affair. There were balloons, a cake, some tulips, chicken strips from Chicken Express, and a very sleepy birthday girl.

In attendance were her fellow "housemates", Alan, Bryce, our pastor (Jake - to my left), and her very best friend, Leonard! It was the first time he had seen my mom since death experience back in June.

Mom and Leonard can't see each other because they are both legally blind. Leonard can't hear Mom because she now speaks in whispers. But, still, they feel at home in each other's presence.

It hasn't been so long ago that they were the Dynamic Duo. "Helen, have you got your pocketbook? Got your keys? Got your walker?" Leonard would grill her every time they headed out on an adventure. Try as she might, Mom could never break Leonard of the habit of using double negatives. "Instead of 'ain't got no,' you should say 'haven't got any,'" she would coach. "Ain't got no," he would say.

Today when I visited Meems, she was wide awake and staring at the far wall of her room. "Hey, Mom! I'm Carolyn! I'm your daughter! "We're best friends!" I sang out. No response. I continued to catch her up on the "news." "It snowed a bit last night." "The cable guy is supposed to come today between 2:00 and 5:00." "The Baylor women's basketball team beat UConn at UConn!"

Then, I pointed out the birthday balloon that floats above the foot of her bed. "You had a birthday this week! You're NINETY FOUR YEARS OLD! Only six more years until you make the Smucker's jar! You had a great little party. Leonard and our pastor, Jake, came."

Then, quite unexpectedly she spoke in a tiny voice.

"Leonard was here?"

"YES! Your best friend, Leonard, came for your birthday!!"

"And, I slept through it."

I couldn't believe that she knew that her eyes closed while she ate her birthday lunch. "Yes. You were really sleepy that day."


Then, she softly said, "And, you are Carolyn."

I almost cried. I haven't heard her say my name in weeks or months.

"Yes, sweet Momma. I am Carolyn."

Happy Birthday, Meems!!! Alan thinks you're going to live to see your smiling face on a Smuckers jar. I'll believe it when I see it.

The Dynamic Duo about six years ago when they were Spring chickens.

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