Sister Act—Mattie Blankenship & Edith Nibert

At age 94, the first thing that Edith Nibert does when she wakes up every morning is check in on her big sister; fellow Widows Home resident, Mattie. Mattie Blankenship is 97 years old and has lived at the Widows home for two years. Edith joined her in 2012 after a couple of brief stays with our Rehab program over the past few years.

Growing up during the Great Depression in Greenup County, Kentucky, our resident sister act lived with their parents and five siblings (a brother and four sisters) near the banks of the Ohio River. The family raised its own food including chickens, pigs, cows, and a variety of vegetables that their mother pickled and canned to ensure they had enough food throughout the year. The taste of pickled corn and weekly Sunday school scenes vibrantly resonate in their memories and are mentioned fondly as they talk about their early years together. The second- and third-born of their family, Mattie and Edith say they were the most closely knit of the bunch and that they were always “into something” but only got caught “occasionally.”    

As life marched on, both of the sisters married and raised families of their own. Edith moved to Dayton in 1947 when her husband got a job in the area, first finding work at Delco and then at DP & L where he stayed until he retired. In 1986, nine years after her husband passed away, Mattie moved to Dayton to be closer to her remaining family, which included Edith, another sister, and her own daughter and son-in-law (who happens to be a volunteer chaplain at the Widows Home). The symmetry of their story isn’t lost on the two sisters, and they’re grateful for the opportunity to be so close nearly 100 years after they started life together back in Kentucky. “I think we’d miss each other if one was gone,” Mattie says.

At the Widows Home, Mattie and Edith see each other every day and enjoy taking walks  around campus. Edith is a big fan of Willow—our community’s cat—and, always the joker, she says that she enjoys living in our community, but she’s sure that our staff is scared of her. They all probably wonder, “Who is that wicked woman?” she jokes. Mattie says that she likes everyone at the Widows home and enjoys playing bingo and baking cookies. “I have so many friends here that it’s hard to remember all of their names.” Before her sight began to deteriorate, Mattie loved to read and sew, and in 2008, she made 500 beaded bracelets to support her son-in-law’s mission to help children in Ukraine. Both Mattie and Edith are deeply devoted to their Christian faith, and Edith says that she gets through every day by “living for and trusting the Lord.” We’re just glad that these sisters from Kentucky have chosen to spend their days with us.

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