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Sisterhood in Senior Living | Sisters Maintain Bond at Brightmore of Wilmington

February 23, 2024

“Sisters, sisters, there were never such devoted sisters” are words from a song sung in the old movie White Christmas. And those words resonate today as they apply to Pat Hawkins and Donice Harrod.

The sisters, who grew up in Rock Hill, South Carolina, are closer than ever now since each lives just a floor away from the other at Brightmore of Wilmington, a full-service rental retirement community in Wilmington, North Carolina. It takes either sister, who both reside in their own independent living apartment, just a few steps to reach their building’s elevator, then down or up one floor and a few more steps to be at each other’s door.

“It’s convenient,” said Pat. “Donice comes up for a snack at night, and we have fellowship. We have a good time.” Donice has been living at Brightmore of Wilmington for five years. She was thrilled when her sister and brother-in-law, Frank Hawkins, decided to move into the senior living community.

Donice, who is a widow, said having her sister nearby has helped her cope with the grief of losing her husband. “It’s been better than any medicine I could’ve taken,” she said. “It’s helped me get over my sadness at being alone.”

The sisters, who are both in their 80s, thrive on doing things together. They frequently shop and dine together. “We eat lunch together every day,” Donice said. “We can trip down memory lane in an instant. I’ll say, ‘Do you remember this person or that one?’ and off we go. Our memories are working pretty well.”

The sisters have always had a lot in common. They both were music majors in college. Pat plays the piano, and Donice is a vocalist. “They used to get us out of high school to play and sing for funerals at a funeral home that was just down the street from the school,” Donice recalled. Music is still a unifier for the two, with Pat stopping by her sister’s apartment several times a week to play on the piano in Donice’s apartment. “She plays like a concert pianist,” Donice said about her sister’s ability to tinkle the ivories. “Everyone likes to hear her play.”

“I go down there and play, and she listens,” Pat added.

In addition to music, the sisters also chose similar lifestyles. Each married a Baptist minister and served missions in Brazil for a time. Now, at this stage of their lives, Donice said she’s enjoying helping her sister settle into Brightmore of Wilmington. “I know a lot of people, and I can help her remember people’s names –that sort of thing,” Donice said. They each enjoy taking part in the vibrant senior living community’s many programs. “We do a lot of activities,” Pat said. “We look forward to getting in the pool, and we don’t even have to leave the building to do that.” In addition to the aquatics and fitness center, the community’s other amenities include a library, media room, billiard room, full-service salon, card/activity room, and chapel where Pat plays the piano for Tuesday evening services.

Lisa Sherill, Executive Director at Brightmore of Wilmington, has noticed how the sisters have thrived since living so close to each other. “They get to maintain their bond, and they get out even more often to socialize,” she said.

The sisters agreed that there are many activities for them and other residents to do at Brightmore of Wilmington, including performances and other events centered around holidays. The sisters relished celebrating their first Christmas together at the senior living community. “The Christmas programs were wonderful. We really enjoyed them,” Donice said.

Whether it’s a holiday or not, the sisters simply are happy to be able to maintain their bond without having to drive or even leave the community. “We do a lot of things together, and we have a lot of laughs,” Donice said.
“We feel good being here. It’s been a wonderful move for us,” Pat added.

Brightmore of Wilmington

Brightmore of Wilmington is a full-service rental retirement community located in Midtown Wilmington. This communityis known for its bustling riverfront, moss-draped oaks , 230-block historic district and island beaches. Brightmore of Wilmington offers independent living that supports a vibrant lifestyle for active seniors. The Kempton and The Commons, both located on-site, provide assisted living and memory support. Brightmore of Wilmington is owned and operated by Liberty Senior Living, LLC, It is a division of Liberty Healthcare Management that specializes in senior living and retirement communities. To learn more about Brightmore of Wilmington, please visit To learn more about Liberty Senior Living and the communities they offer, please visit

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Brightmore of Wilmington

2324 41st Street
Wilmington, NC 28403


The Kempton

2298 S 41st Street
Wilmington, NC 28403


The Commons

2320 S 41st Street
Wilmington, NC 28403