An interview with Brothers of Mercy’s “Five Sisters”

An interview with Brothers of Mercy’s “Five Sisters”

The Five Sisters

Interview by Mary Baty, Executive Director of BOM Independent Senior Apartments

The Five Sisters sounds like the name of a great novel – and after my interview with these ladies, I’d predict a best seller!

Born to Lois Gertrude and Melvin Henry Bowen in Mt. Jewett, P.A., these ladies, Gay, Evie, Sharon, Eloise and Loretta, are part of a family that included  15 children!  Sitting with them all (minus Loretta, who is visiting family in Florida) proved to be a joyous time for me as they tried to suppress their stories (“You promised you wouldn’t tell!”), talked over one another (“I can answer for myself!”), laughed heartily and threw a good natured barb or two.

The sisters gather weekly for a family get together, Bible study, BINGO, monthly residents’ dinner parties and nightly card games.  Below is just an excerpt of our interview — what I was allowed to print – the rest stays in the vault!

Ladies, I want you to turn to the sister on your left, and answer this question about her:  What was she like as a child? And what is she like now?

Gay of Eloise: Then, busy and full of fun; now, gregarious.

Eloise of Evie: Then, very social; now, fun.

Evie of Sharon: Then, quiet; now, a Giver.

Sharon of Gay: Always, the sweetest one of us all.

Everyone of Loretta: Then, determined; now, strong willed and independent.

I asked each sister how long they have been at the Brothers of Mercy Senior Apartments and what they most value about their living experience:

Gay: On the recommendation of a friend who also resides at the apartments, Gay has lived here for three years.  She enjoys the friendliness of her neighbors, the affordability of living and the fast repairs!

Sharon: Sharon was next to follow after Loretta, and has resided here for 1 1/2 years.  Sharon loves that she has made friends with EVERYONE she has met and enjoys that she is kept busy by her sisters, in a positive way.

Evie: Next to join her sisters, she has been a resident for 1 year.  Evie loves the laughter in the building, the affordability, and the acceptance and patience of other residents when teaching card games!  She has never been in an environment where you feel so much love and so welcomed.

Eloise: She may have been the last to join the group, but it’s as if she has been here forever!  She loves being with her sisters – but in private apartments (they all cheered at this comment and one added “saves murders from happening!”) and the warmth and personality of the staff.

I asked the Ladies which accomplishment they were most proud of.   After some reflection, they shared the following:

Sharon: As with her sisters, she is most proud of her 4 children, 7 grandchildren and 8 great grandchildren.

Gay: Making and maintaining friendships from all over the country through letters and cards.  She is very proud of her 5 children, 5 grandchildren and 5 great children.

Evie: She is blessed with 5 children, 9 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.  Her greatest life accomplishment has been humbling herself before God and surrendering herself to Him.

Eloise: She has been blessed with 3 children (one who was deceased at the age of 22), 7 grandchildren and 7 great grandchildren.   She is very proud of her ability to be there for others with a heart full of love.

After getting to know the sisters a bit more as individuals, I wanted to end the interview with a question that would make them think and laugh as well…What would people be most surprised to know about you and if you could have one super human power, what would you choose?

Sharon: Surprise! Skydiving with her grandson is on her bucket list.  And if she could, she’d be a real life Energizer Bunny.

Gay:  People would be surprised to know that she was her high school Valedictorian.  Give her the ability to read peoples’ minds so she could always know who was being truthful. (She’d also like to be able to walk and run again, effortlessly and limitlessly!)

Evie: With all her pranks and laugh-inducing incidents, people would be surprised to know that she has a very deep, serious side to her.   She would love to be given supernatural healing powers.

Eloise: She would like to take a Love Boat cruise (her sisters will be surprised at this answer – she changed it without their knowledge!)  and would like to have X-ray vision.  She kept the reason for wanting that superpower to herself!!

 The interview ended with a story that was not fit to print, tears of laughter (we wished we all had “Kleenex” to blow our nose, which would have been appropriate for the cause of the laughter), the ladies heading off to dinner together and me, again, left with incredible gratitude for being able to be a part of the lives of the residents I am honored to serve.


Western New York Catholic recently published an article about the Bowen sisters. To read the full article on these lovely ladies, click the link below: