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Meet Maki:

Maki was born in Osaka, Japan, the second largest city in the country. As the middle child between two brothers, Maki was raised with a traditional Japanese upbringing centered around womanhood and the important roles of a housewife. The cultural significance and spiritual storytelling linked within the Japanese tea ceremony and meditative art of Japanese floral arrangements were given to Maki by the teachings of her Grandmother, who often stayed home with Maki while her parents worked in their family-owned factory. 

Much of Maki’s childhood and early adulthood were painted with many adventurous and colorful memories. During her high school and college years, Maki and her older brother formed a band alongside one of their good friends, their influence and style closely inspired by the musical genre of American folk trio “Peter, Paul and Mary”. At the age of 21, Maki and her best friend moved to Guam, a tropical and remote melting pot of beautifully blended cultures with a special knack for tourism. There, Maki found herself working for a high-end leather goods retail store, as well as a dinner cruise and rental car company. During that time, Maki saved up enough money to travel across Europe, visiting Italy, England, and France along the way. 

The cultural significance and spiritual storytelling linked within the Japanese tea ceremony and meditative art of Japanese floral arrangements were given to Maki by the teachings of her Grandmother

Living In Prime Color

In 1992, while still living in Guam, Maki was influenced by the cultural values instilled in her by her Grandmother and their Japanese heritage, leading her to open her first Japanese flower shop “Prime Color”. This next adventure in Maki’s life was inspired and shared by her good friend and business partner who, like Maki, shared an appreciation and love for their Japanese heritage and the significant value of the flower arrangement ceremony hallmarked by an attention to detail and delicate selection of high-quality florals. Together, the two would work together to overcome many obstacles and see their company flourish within the tourism community, securing over 90% of Guam’s hotel contracts and averaging 600 weddings per month in service.

The Japanese floral arrangements made with personal dedication by Maki and her business partner captivated many, driving a booming business that allowed Maki to own and operate three separate floral shops at different times, as well as a fourth location in Bali, Indonesia. Maki’s son, Sean, recalls one of his many memories of his mother growing up as bringing her coffee and donuts to the shop on Valentine’s Day after successfully completing one of the busiest seasons of the year. 

In addition to seeing the devotion and passion his mother demonstrated for her business, Sean also describes his mother as being very strong-minded in wanting him and his sister to be raised as a man and woman of independence, self-sufficiency, kindness, and respect. Taking care of others was always a cornerstone in their upbringing, recognizing the difficulties and challenges that often come with the caregiver role, but also the importance of finding compassion and love in these situations. Above all, Sean remarks Maki’s life as being one of laughter and joy, always being quick to crack jokes and having a good time.

Taking care of others was always a cornerstone in their upbringing, recognizing the difficulties and challenges that often come with the caregiver role, but also the importance of finding compassion and love in these situations.

The Role Of Caregiving

Sean and his wife, Kristen, eventually embarked on their own caregiving journey after Maki was diagnosed with Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. In the early years of Maki’s condition, Sean noticed a recurring pattern of repeated conversation during phone calls with his mother. At the time, Sean was living in Washington, but would travel to visit his mother, where he soon began to see the progression of the disease develop in the form of weakness, multiple hospitalizations, and eventual short-term memory loss as more time had passed. During this time, Sean moved to Guam to be closer to his mother, but doctors could not identify what the cause of Maki’s health concerns were. 
A few years later and after Sean had moved back to the mainland, Maki made the decision to sell her flower shop and join him in Arizona, after which her memory loss had become more noticeable. Later, both a psychiatrist and neurologist were able to confirm a diagnosis of Late-onset Alzheimer’s.

Oftentimes, Alzheimer’s leaves seniors and families feeling isolated and defeated, but a new season of hope has arrived for Maki and her family since joining Oakwood Creative Care. Sean and Kristen have both witnessed a new wave of positivity in Maki’s spirits, as each day she excitedly asks, “When do I get to go back to the Club?” In their roles as caregivers, Sean and Kristen both feel a sense of hope and reprieve in knowing the joy being a Member at Oakwood gives Maki. They always see the happiness the club gives her, remarking how important it is to have something to look forward to, both from Maki’s perspective and theirs. There’s no problem anymore with getting Maki out the door to go to Oakwood, as she is already excited and motivated to see what new experiences and adventures a day at the Club will bring.

Sean and Kristen have both witnessed a new wave of positivity in Maki’s spirits, as each day she excitedly asks, “When do I get to go back to the club?”

Finding Hope In Light Of A Diagnosis

The community and conversations found within Oakwood are one of the many things Maki looks forward to most, as she is most often described as being a kind soul who is warm and welcoming to all, and ready to strike a conversation with everyone she meets. The art Maki has created is equally as vibrant as her personality, and though she might not remember some of what she crafts, Maki’s commitment and tenacity has resulted in astonishing pieces of work, including the pencil drawing of one of her very own floral arrangements made during her time at Oakwood.

In reflection of her time at Oakwood, Maki was asked what her favorite part of the day is, to which she replied: The joy, community, and purpose it gives her. “Maki is a people-person,” Sean and Kristen say, so having somewhere for her to go to be with people is important. Maki’s life embodies a recognition for the importance of servitude, as she still desires and loves giving things to others. To be able to support and contribute to a community is something that speaks a million words to Maki and her family, the very thing that gives them hope in light of her diagnosis. 

You Are Not Alone

The impacts of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other age-related issues affect the entire family. We provide services, education, and support to help you navigate through this journey.