Mom’s Message to Us

The prayer card Mom chose.Well, tomorrow it will be a month since Mom left us. I was feeling pretty sad this morning and happened to come across the prayer card Mom picked out when she was making advance arrangements. While she didn’t write the poem, I’m told that she changed it a little bit to her liking. I read the card today and remembered that these were the words she wanted us to read when we were grieving. I thought I would post it here for anyone who hasn’t read it or might want to read it again:

To Those I Love & Those Who Love Me

When I am gone, release me, let me go
I have so many things to see and do.
You mustn’t tie yourself to me with tears.
Be happy that we had so many years.

I gave you my love. You can only guess
How much you gave me in happiness.
I thank you for the love you each have shown,
But now it’s time I traveled alone.

So grieve a while for me if grieve you must
Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It’s only for a while that we must part.
So bless the memories with your heart.

I won’t be far away, for life goes on
So if you need me, call and I will come.
Though you can’t see or touch me, I’ll be near
And if you listen with your heart, you’ll hear
All of my love around you soft and clear.

And then, when you must come this way alone,
I’ll greet you with a smile, and “Welcome Home.”


I’m always remembering now, bits of advice that Mom has given me over the years. This one pops into my head a lot lately: At one difficult point in my life, I was talking to my Mom on the telephone and she asked how I was doing. I told her I was doing okay, except that I would get very weepy and down when I listened to one particular song on the stereo. My mom gave me these simple instructions: “Don’t listen to that song anymore.”
Problem solved, I guess! She wasn’t being unsympathetic; just optimistic and practical. It makes me smile every time I think of it. It reminds me of that joke “Doctor, it hurts when I do this…”


November 6th Update on Cemetery

Flowers for MomThe granite marker is now in place and the area is looking better. Weekends are a much more serene time to visit because the tractors and workers are gone.The cemetery has named “streets” throughout the grounds. Here’s how to find mom’s site there:

  • From Van Buren, turn into the cemetery at Harmon.
  • Turn right at the guard shack on Phillipine Street and take that road till it ends.
  • Turn right on Meuse Argonne Ave.
  • You will see where the grass ends and the new area is taking shape on the right hand side. Look for section 57B. I would say it’s on the West side of the cemetery.

If you bring any flowers or adornments for the gravesite, be sure to read their rules about what is allowed. They say no vases or potted plants. Today, I tried setting a potted Chrysanthemum plant there, thinking it might last longer than cut flowers. I’ll check back and see if they took it away. Seems to me they might cut the family some slack for awhile, at least until the grass is in. We shall see!

Helen’s Novel: Picture of Guilt


Helen’s novel, Picture of Guilt, was published in paperback in 2002. It won many awards throughout the years, along with rave reviews.
Even after Helen’s death, our family learned that her book was on a university professor’s recommended reading list.


I am sorry to hear the news. Please accept our condolences. I shared the news with my wife last night. It turns out my wife knows your mother-in-law (by name). Helen’s book is one of the recommended books from her professors.

Matt’s Eulogy for Mom

~ This is the eulogy Matt read at Helen’s funeral. ~

What a great life my mom had. A life full of love. A God honoring life. She grew up with parents and brothers who loved her and she loved them. And her marriage to my dad was an example of what God had in mind when he created marriage. Aunt Dotty described mom & dad’s marriage as a marriage made in heaven. I think that is exactly what it was. God put my mom and dad together. They had the kind of relationship and love for each other that people write novels about. To grow up in a home with parents who adore each other was a wonderful thing. My mom and dad never stopped holding hands, kissing each other, or telling each other they loved them. In these last few months when Mary and I would pray with mom, her first words to God were usually words of thanks to God for giving her my dad. It was a marriage full of love. It was a God honoring marriage.

My mom and dad had six of us kids, with the fifth kid born while the oldest was still 4 years old, and Patty was not too far behind. But even with all those babies, Mom was able to let each of us know we were totally loved. We each did not get 1/6 of Mom’s love. We each got 100 % of Mom’s love. And even with mom giving all that love to her six kids, she continued to give Dad all her love. I had the greatest childhood a kid have. I have the greatest mom a kid could have.

When we started adding to this big family of ours with spouses, grandkids, and even spouses of grandkids, my mom continued to fill our hearts and lives with her love. Mom loved Wanda, Mary, Scott and Gary like her own kids. And Mom adored her grandkids, and I’m sure Derek and Angela felt the same love we all did. I think my mom’s friends would tell you they also shared in her love. The wonderful thing about all this is I know that Mom knew we all loved her too.

Mom was more then just a person to love and a person to be loved by. My mom was a child of God. A woman of God. When I was getting ready for my first communion my mom told me how close to God she felt at the time she first took communion. She said she felt God’s love so much, that He was so real, that if she died then (as a 7 year old), that it would be okay because she knew she would be with God. So in a sense I think my mom has been ready for heaven for the last 68 years. God knew he was going to have Mom with Him for all eternity so He allowed us all to be blessed and loved by her for 75 years. Mom used those 75 years to honor God.

For those of you that might wonder if this living for eternity thing is real, ask yourself this. Don’t you still feel mom loves you? Mom did not stop loving us on October 17, 2007. Mom still loves us. I feel just as loved by mom right now as I did as a child, and as I did a month ago. And I still love her. That is because Mom is alive. She is absolutely alive. She is in Heaven with God. A God who loves her more than we can know. There are a lot of things we don’t know about heaven, but I know it is wonderful. And now I have one more reason to get there. Heaven is where my mom is.

I know we all loved my mom and we would do anything for her. So what would she ask us to do now? I think the two things mom would tell us to do is first to love and take care of each other. And the second and more important thing she would tell us to do is to “get to heaven”. So let’s do that. Let’s love and take care of each other, just like mom did for us. And while I know we can’t just decide to follow mom to heaven, God told us how to get there. He told us to follow his son Jesus, and Jesus will take us there. So let’s get to heaven. Let’s get to where mom is, where God is. And just as God told this beloved follower of Jesus, this mom of mine, we will not be disappointed with paradise.

I love you mom. And I will see you again in Heaven.

Lenore’s Eulogy for Mom

~This is the eulogy that Lenore read at Helen’s funeral~

I have five brothers and sisters and any one of us could speak endlessly about how much we love our parents, but Thursday night as the family talked about who would come up here and talk today… my name never came up. My dad said who can do it without breaking down. I said to myself, or so I thought, I can’t… and I believe I heard a collective, “we know.”

I’m sure at this moment they are all worried that I’ll fall apart and say exactly what I’m feeling which is “I want you all to go away and for this not to be happening.”

But that wouldn’t be nice so I’m not going to say it…. You all can stay.

When I considered what I should tell you about my Mom, it occurred to me that the most important thing about her you already know… and that is how she made you feel.

The most telling thing about a person is how they make the people around them feel. And we all know it felt great to be around her. You knew she loved you… it was a gift she gave you with her voice her touch, her whole heart and soul and you got it ever time you were in her presence.

For the past year and a half I’ve closed my office on Thursdays to “take care of my Mom.” At least that’s what I told my clients… how could they be upset with me for not being available if I was taking care of my Mom. But what it said on my calendar for Thursdays was “Mom-Day,” with little stars by it. I never came up here to take care of her, I came to be with her. Just to be with her. It didn’t matter that in time we couldn’t go shopping or go out to lunch. I got to sit on the couch all day, and eventually on the bed, on hold her hand and have her all to myself. I was the lucky recipient of her gift, as would be the next person to visit her.

Recently Mimi and I started driving up together to visit Mom. After a few months Mimi said, “maybe I should just see Mom on my own, I feel like I’m honing in on your time with her.” And while we’d have a lot of fun together I know Mimi wanted Mom to herself too. Patty was less subtle, if you stayed with Mom more than a few minutes after she got there she’d say” okay, now your running into my time and that’s my spot your sitting in.”

We couldn’t get enough of her gift. And what’s hard to believe is that it never diminished. Ever time you saw her, when she’d first catch your eye, she’d smile and greet in such a loving way, like she was surprised to see you. This is the greeting you got whether you’d seen her the day before or if it had been weeks since you’d seen her.

I know you’ve all experienced this too; it’s why you’re here. She loved you and you knew it. That feeling will never leave us. And neither will she.

I want to share something she said to me in her last days, when I wasn’t even sure she knew I was there.

She said, “You look sad Lenore” and a moment later “don’t cry, it’ll be nice.”

I love you like crazy Mom.

Mimi’s Eulogy for Mom

~This is the eulogy that I read at my mother’s funeral Monday.~

My mom was a creature of kindness, beauty and grace. How lucky a girl am I, to have a mother like this? When we were growing up, she never took us out for “a spa day.” No manicures or pedicures. But she took us places she thought no little girl should miss: to the ocean, to the ballet, the theater. To weekend concerts at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. I really don’t think it was about wanting to raise “proper little ladies.” She wanted to share her love of beautiful things with us.

She was a scholar, an avid reader, a news junkie. An information sponge. She was well-read and well-informed, a sparkling conversationalist … add to that, a good listener. If you met her at a party, and struck up a conversation with my mom … Well, you hit the jackpot. You were bound to have a wonderful evening because she was a delight to talk to. She was smart, unpretentious and fun. Her intellect made her a fascinating, interesting person to talk to. Her kindness and humility made her a pleasure to be around. I was so proud to introduce her as my mom.

She had a sincere interest in and affection for other people.  She had many friends. I know they adored her and the feeling was mutual. Her capacity for love was limitless, it seems to me. She never had anything but nice things to say about anyone. And she meant it. My mom was not capable of phoniness. She saw the best in everyone and it was genuine. Over and over again, I hear from her friends, that it was an honor to know her. I believe them.

If I had to pick out just one word to describe my mother; it would have to be “Luminescent.” Her smile really did “light up the room.” She wasn’t a joke-teller, but she exuded happiness. She and my Dad infused our family with laughter. In our family, laughter surrounds everything. Even in the most unexpected circumstances. It made me feel so wonderful last Friday night, to hear laughing and lively conversation at the viewing. I thought to myself “this is just how my Mom would have wanted it. It would make her happy to see this.”

I saw a big red truck on the 60 freeway that night. It had a giant bottle of Bacardi on the side and the caption read “Live like you mean it.” I thought to myself “You don’t need Bacardi to live like you mean it. Well, … I’ll have whatever my Mom was drinking, because SHE really lived like she meant it.” She savored every person and moment in her life as a gift from God. And she fought for every last minute of her life with courage and grace.

A Poem by Thomas

This is a poem grandson Thomas, wrote for Helen before she passed away. He had hoped to read it at the funeral or wake.

A Gladiator’s Heart

This is about a lady that loved everyone
No matter what, she fought with all her
Heart and soul, and never backed
Down for anyone. She always knew how
To brighten up a person’s day if they
Were feeling down. They would walk into
Her room, she would smile and the hurt
Would go away and that smile would last
Forever, never fade and always keep your
Spirits up. She had the warmest hugs and the
Best Kisses, better than anyone could give.

Thomas and Nana

Riverside National Cemetery

Helen has been laid to rest at Riverside National Cemetery.

Riverside National Cemetery
22495 Van Buren Boulevard
Riverside, CA 92518
Phone: (951) 653-8417

Chris and Wanda are bringing some of the beautiful flower arrangements that were sent to the funeral, to adorn the grave site. The cemetery will let the flowers remain for as long as they are in good shape. I hope the winds will settle down so that they can honor my mom for a good long time.

Chris suggests that people wait a few a days before visiting the grave site, as some landscaping work is still being completed in the area. It should be more suitable for visitors in a few days/weeks. The grave marker is not yet in place, but the space is at Lot 57B Site 808. Here is a link to a map of the cemetery, for those who would like to pay their respects there:
Section 57B – Grave Site#808
Riverside National Cemetery

marker31.jpgNovember 3 Update: The granite marker is now in place and the area is looking better. Weekends are a much more serene time to visit because the tractors and workers are gone.

The cemetery has named “streets” throughout the grounds. Here’s how to find mom’s site there:

  • From Van Buren, turn into the cemetery at Harmon.
  • Turn right at the guard shack on Phillipine Street and take that road till it ends.
  • Turn right on Meuse Argonne Ave.
  • You will see where the grass ends and the new area is taking shape on the right hand side. Look for section 57B. I would say it’s on the West side of the cemetery.

If you bring any flowers or adornments for the gravesite, be sure to read their rules about what is allowed and click on “comments” here for more details about the gravesite / cemetery.

Viewing Friday Evening

A non-denominational Viewing has been scheduled
Friday evening between 5 – 8 p.m. at:

White Emerson Mortuary
13304 Philadelphia St.
Whittier, CA 90601
(562) 698-0304

This is an open-house style viewing, with no formal services.

Google Map to Friday Night Viewing

The Funeral is being planned for early next week (probably Monday or Tuesday). We will add more firm details when we know them.

No change to report

The update as of Wednesday morning 10/17, is that there is no significant change to report. Mom is weaker; sleeping more and more each day. No longer eating or communicating. The only positive aspect is that she seems more comfortable and at peace for longer periods. That’s about it.


Saturday Update

No change in Helen’s status. But our family wants to express our deep gratitude for the touching emails you have sent. You have no idea how much these messages have meant to our Dad and all the kids. They have been a tremendous comfort this week.

It occurred to us that Helen’s friends might want to add to the website. I’ve just added this message board, so that visitors can post their thoughts to the website if they wish.

If you would rather send a private message to our family, Helen’s email is now going directly to Henry. (Click here to email the family) . You can let my Dad know if you want it included here, and he will forward it to me to post.

Lenore wanted to share a poem that our mom wrote when she was just 14 years old. It illustrates Helen’s beauty and talent at a very early age. I hope that is showing up in a post below. If not click here to see it full-sized.

Lenore and I are also working on a photo tribute to Helen, if you have a favorite photo of Helen, please email it Lenore at

Message from Eileen Jones

Doris Royston brought Eucharist to Helen today, and I went with her as has been our habit these past many months. We hadn’t seen her in two weeks.

A couple of days ago I came across an old hymnal from my youth, quite by accident, and laughed as I recognized many of the hymns I used to sing with such enthusiasm. Memory is a strange and erratic thing—what I want to remember I frequently forget, yet these old hymns were fresh in my memory. Especially the music. So I picked out several songs, made copies of them, and took the copies with me when Doris and I met.

We two sat on either side of her bed, leaned into and over her, put our arms around her arms, and talked sweetness, beauty and reassurance to her. I know she heard every word we said, although she couldn’t respond. We talked about angels surrounding her, about probably the spirits of her mama and daddy and grandparents there also, her brother who died. Who knows? Just because we can’t see them doesn’t mean they aren’t there!

And then we sang. Old songs learned so many, many years ago at church with our parents and siblings. Old songs etched upon our souls from childhood. We also sang a lullaby, and asked the angels to sing with us and through us.

After Eucharist we prayed for Helen and for Henry. We asked God to sustain and strengthen them in this sad, sad time. We thanked God that they each had the other to teach and learn from, to grow up and old with, to create family with, even to disagree and be angry with. We are thankful for what we ourselves have learned from Helen and Henry about love and persistence and faithfulness. Then we thanked God for their extended and loving family, examples of love in action.

Death is a holy and sanctified time. Doris and I are richly blessed to be a tiny part of this sacramental experience.

Eileen Jones

Henry’s Oct 11th Post from Website

10/11/07 Update:

Our Dad came across this Henry Van Dyke poem today and asked that we share it with you here. His comment follows.

Gone From my Sight

I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength. I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: “There, she’s gone!”

“Gone where?”

Gone from my sight . That’s all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side, and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminshed size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone says: “There, she’s gone!” there are other eyes watching her coming, and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:” Here she comes!”

And that is dying.

The status of Helen at this moment of 9 PM on October 11, 2007 is what the poem describes above as “a speck of white cloud.”


First Post from the homepage

As you may know, Helen’s battle against breast cancer has recently taken a turn for the worse. On Saturday, Sept 29th, she sent the following email, titled “Entering a new phase” to several friends:

Well dear friends I am finally come to a new place in my disease. Over the past few days I’ve been busy (?) signing up for Hospice.. it hasn’t been as easy physically or spiritually as I thought it would be, but the Hospice people are unbelievably kind and patient. Could use a new round of prayers though and I know where to ask for them.

Love you all,

Love, prayers and gratitude.

By the just following day, Helen was considerably weaker and barely able to whisper her thoughts to us. Over the past week and a half, her condition has continued to worsen and all of us in her heartbroken family, have begun to accept the sad realization that she may only be with us for just a short time longer.

This is an extremely difficult time for our father, Henry, who has been at her side night and day for the past 2 weeks (Well, for the past few years, really). As usual, our Dad is fiercely protective of Helen’s health and comfort … we hope you will understand and respect his wishes to keep their home as quiet, peaceful and germ-free as possible. This means he is determined to keep visitors to a bare minimum … her children and their spouses only. Her brother, Bill and his wife Ann, flew out from New York last week to be with Helen, possibly for a last visit.

Fortunately, most of Helen’s many grandchildren came to visit with her at a family celebration of Henry & Helen’s 52nd wedding anniversary party just a few weeks ago. Our Mom was still her loving, witty, happy self at that time, and this is how Henry prefers the grandkids to remember seeing her for the last time. For this reason, and the reasons mentioned above, he has asked all of the grandkids not to visit. The entire family understands and respects his wishes about this.

Helen isn’t able to take phone calls or answer emails any longer. And, as you can imagine, the volume of phone calls can get pretty overwhelming for our Dad. For this reason, we will be posting updates on this website, so that her many wonderful friends can check here for daily information on how Helen is doing. Also, we will print out and read all of your emails & letters out loud to Helen. Sometimes we see a smile cross her face when we do so.

I wish my Mom was feeling well enough to proof-read this message. I’m sure she would have many constructive, but gentle editorial suggestions! (such as not to switch to “first person” in this paragraph).

We thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.
Helen’s Kids