Category Archives: Rhonda Esakov

January 10 – Two Beautiful Women

by Rhonda Esakov

My mom was born on January 10, 1939 in a small farming suburb named Linden outside of North Kansas City, Missouri. She also died in North Kansas City, but it doesn’t mean she hadn’t been abroad much. She had, in fact, traveled several times and lived around the world. Her name is Barbara Jean Sorensen and today is her birthday. One of my Saudi moms [a stand in mother] was my mom’s dearest friend, May Riley. May was born in England near London in the early 1930’s on May Day, married to a US soldier and became a US citizen. May died a couple of years after Barbara after a long battle with a type of leukemia. This is a remembrance of two beautiful women that met in Saudi Arabia and stayed friends until they died.

May Riley on the left, Barbara Sorensen on the right on Labor day weekend, 1986

My favorite thing to wear around the house is a scarf Caftan that May made for Barbara. Wearing this Caftan, I feel the memories of two beautiful women. The fabric of the Caftan tells the story of two very different women. One side has a pattern often seen in Persian and Arab type rugs and vivid with black, bronze and silver crowns, scalloped fans and hints of palaces–very proper, universal and staid. The fabric, a cotton poly blend–sturdy I would say, but comfortable. This is the side I think of as May. She, like the color, pattern and fabric, was very British: proper, sturdy, bold and dependable. On the other side, the fabric chosen for my mom’s side is a bright green Paisley pattern with bright turquoise and purple accents in a silky material–full of color to match my mom’s green eyes, silky to match that touch of elegance she always instilled in her life and swirls that show a creative, classy edge.

Each time I look at the two sides of this beautiful Caftan, I see my mom and May. I know the love May spent in choosing the fabrics and hand sewing the garment for her great friend. I feel the arms of two beautiful women, friends for life, wrapping around me each time I wear this. When Mom was first diagnosed with terminal Cancer, she passed on to me this beautiful reminder of a friendship that has lasted through the tests of time. I will never forget my two beautiful moms, both taking their places now as Angels in Heaven and watching over me. Tonight, I think I will let these two beautiful women hug me to sleep and bless my dreams with sweet memories of them.

Rhonda Esakov is a freelance magazine journalist, Star reviewer for Story Circle Book Reviews, tax professional and Outdoor Educator for the Boy Scouts of America, Becoming an Outdoor Woman, the NRA and Texas Parks and Wildlife. Currently she serves on the Board as Treasurer for Story Circle Network and can be visited on her blog at