12/20/17 — A mother's legacy

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A mother's legacy

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on December 20, 2017 5:50 AM

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Lisa Dever, left, and Dawn Throm help decorate a tree at Kirkwood Retirement Community. For the past three years, they have hosted various events at the retirement home as a way to remember Dawn's mother-in-law, Norma, who lived there 2 1/2 years.

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Lisa Dever, left, and Dawn Throm talk about visiting Dawn's mother-in-law, Norma, when she lived at Kirkwood Retirement Community before she died in 2014. For the past three years, the two women have been having various events and parties for the residents as a way to remember Norma.

Lisa Dever and Dawn Throm can be found frequenting the two-story building in Kirkwood Retirement Community. They prepare dinners for the residents, have mini parties and sometimes just sit down and fellowship with them.

They have done this for the past three years, although neither has anybody living at Kirkwood.

"My mother-in-law, Norma, lived here 2 1/2 years," 60-year-old Throm said. "She passed away Oct. 12, 2014."

Dever and Throm have been friends for the past 16 years and when Throm's mother-in-law moved to Kirkwood, she adopted Dever her as her second daughter.

"I just loved her to death," 58-year-old Dever said. "I loved spending time with her. She was a joy. She was funny. I would take her for her hair appointments and to go get groceries. If I had leftovers at home, I'd bring them to her, walk in and say, 'Meals on Wheels is here.' She would just laugh."

"We started doing this at Kirkwood Mother's Day 2015," Throm said. "We just were missing my mother-in-law tremendously and missed coming over and seeing the ladies. We used to be in and out every day. Lisa and I both had lost our moms so long ago. And losing Mama (her mother-in-law) just made it that much more so."

So, on the spur of the moment, Dever and Throm decided to have a Mother's Day lunch in the two-story building at Kirkwood. It was just finger sandwiches. They didn't tell anybody they were doing it and about 10 ladies showed up.

And that's how it all started.

"We have done all kinds of things," Dever said. "We've done Fourth of July picnics, Easter lunch, something for Thanksgiving. We bring food for all our events. We just have a ball.

"One Easter, we asked the ladies at the office if they could bring some chairs over for us. They set them up for us upstairs. Dawn and I were getting the food set up with our backs to the tables, and we both turned round at the same time and every chair was full. We were just blown away. Before that we'd only had eight or 10 ladies come. That day we had 25.

"We had told one of the ladies that we were coming and she said, 'Well I'll make sure that more of the ladies come.' We found out that she had spoken up to a lot of those people and almost threatened them to be there."

Some might think these two women are very selfless because of how much they do for the residents.

But they would disagree.

"When we did the first one, it really was a selfish thing," Throm said. "We were doing it to help our hearts because of missing our moms. It did help. It brought so much joy to us. It's just meant the world to us."

And Throm said that each time she and Dever do something at Kirkwood, she can definitely feel her mother-in-law's spirit right there.

"We feel her smiling down on us and saying, 'Way to go, my daughters,'" Throm said.

The inspiration for what they will do next at Kirkwood comes at different moments.

Like the time Dever was hiding a painted rock one day and Throm told her they should paint rocks with the residents at Kirkwood. And they did one Saturday.

This is the first year the two women are doing a Christmas event.

"Santa Claus is going to come with surprises for them," Dever said. "Who knows what we'll do in the future?"

They couldn't do it without the support of their husbands, Mark Throm and Barry Dever, who help with the heavy labor and sometimes even stay at the events to socialize with the residents.

It's more than just food and little gifts here and there.

"I think basically what we provide is fellowship," Throm said. "Maybe it's been a lonely day for some and the day we come it brightens their day. I think they just enjoy having the chance to talk with us and be with us as much as we do with them. I think mostly it's just an uplifting time and gives them something to look forward to."

"Hopefully they see us as their extended family because that's how we see them," Dever said. "Even if they're having a bad day and maybe in a grumpy mood, we listen and hopefully make them smile or laugh. We go home happier and hope they do, too."

The two women said they will continue to do these little things for the residents at Kirkwood.

"I don't want it to go away," Throm said.