Nine Years Without Her

Everyone who recalls Helen’s countenance would see a bright face with an expression of approval, always smiling and “happy to see you”. She was a beautiful human being throughout. She is best described by quotes from our children.

Henry Jr: Mom once advised me “Don’t sweat the small stuff…it’s all small stuff” I can do cancer standing on my head”
momdad50thChris: I recall something mom said on your fiftieth anniversary when our entire family flew to Hawaii. Sitting in front of our bungalow porch she said, ” Everywhere I look I see someone I love”.

Matt: On1stcommunion500 my First Communion, Mom told me that on her First Communion she felt so close to God that that it would be okay to die if that’s what God wanted.
Lenore: In her last year, we had many conversations which lead to my crying uncontrollably tears. Mom was holding me and talking. I could sense the smile in her voice. Everything about her exuded calm, love and happiness.
Mimi: If I had to pick out one word to describe my mom it would have to be “Luminescent”. Her smile really did “light up the room.” She was well-read, well informed and 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.
Henry Sr: Helen’s TOP priorities were not to be measured by Academia. That was all dwarfed by her love of God, family, friends, life and learning. Mimi had written, after Helen died, “I think I was trying to unravel the mystery of what unique combination of genetics and environment came together to create this remarkably strong and loving personality? I’m coming up with a big bang theory that only happens once every 20 billion years.” She was tooo good to be true!
Patty: I remember after Dad and Mom moved into the apartment, sitting in the living room with Mom. I’ll never forget her taking my hands (like her little one) and telling me (in her beautiful soft voice), “Patty I’m not afraid of dying. But, I am afraid of missing you all”! I kissed her and told her Mom I’ve always been able to talk to you AND always will. You won’t miss us!! Mom’s always been there for us and always will!! Love you Mom!


Eight Years Without Her

Let me tell you about Helen. Although she had only one book published (Picture of Guilt), she had written four others: Cecille, Prelude to Love, Twice a Fool, and the Wild Game Supper. But I’m getting ahead of myself. I must take you back in time.

Nobody could make her do anything she really didn’t want to do. NOBODY!!. I started teaching her how to drive in Brooklyn, before we were married. Four years later, after failing the drivers test four times, she decided she didn’t want to push the stroller with the 3 kids one mile round-trip to the market, she decided to get licensed. It was not because I’d tried to cajole or embarrass her into it, but because she wanted it. Two weeks later, she was licensed.

At 45, she was working as a Library Aide in La Mirada when she decided to return to college to get her BA so she could be promoted to Full Librarian. She was aware that she would be 50 to achieve that goal as a part time student but she applied at Fullerton Jr College.

The school insisted she take a special update class for folks who’d been out of school for over 20 years but she refused, stating she was as prepared as any of our six kids who had graduated high school. They made an exception, and she was in.

As a freshman, she raised her hand so often, that, when she stopped, the teacher asked why she had stopped, to which she replied she was embarrassed to be the only one who apparently knew the answers.

On literature subjects and authors she particularly enjoyed, she read all the books on those subjects and authors rather than the ones required by the teachers. I saw all those books scattered around the house. She knew more about Kafka than her professor.

By the time she was a senior at CSUF, she would have been a straight ‘A’ student if it wasn’t for a ‘B+’ in Statistics and an ‘F’ in Music (which she loved) but had been mistakenly recorded as having many absences. She didn’t protest; grades were not high on her priority list. Learning was! With only 6 credits needed for her BA, she left school at the urging of two English teachers who asked her why such a good writer was still in school when she should be writing full time.

Despite all the above, Helen’s TOP priorities were not to be measured by Academia. That was all dwarfed by her love of God, family, friends, life and learning. Mimi had written, after Helen died, “I think I was trying to unravel the mystery of what unique combination of genetics and environment came together to create this remarkably strong and loving personality? I’m coming up with a big bang theory that only happens once every 20 billion years.”

It had to be more than luck that we met at a St Francis dance, miles from both our homes, on June 24,1953, one day after her 21st birthday. It was destiny.

Fifty years later, on her 74th birthday, I wrote to her:
“The sun is shining but it would make no difference if it were cloudy. If I am with you, it is always bright, even if we are inside with the lights on or off. I need only to
think your name to smile. Touching you face, your arm, your anything make me feel good. You make every day beautiful because you are beautiful. But on your birthday I sense it more, and it makes your birthday MY BEAUTIFUL DAY.

Helen loved everybody and everybody loved Helen, especially her #1 fan.

Seven Years Without Her

For this anniversary of Helen’s passing, Mimi is printing selected paragraphs from the eulogies given by three of our children.  But first I must reveal to you a side of Helen that most people never knew. She was a risk taker, particularly on vacations.

Although she couldn’t swim, Helen insisted on sailing in bays whose proximities to the ocean made it dangerous if the boat was mishandled, and though I had been in the Navy, I was never on a boat, ship, or anything that floats.  In gathering materials for for her book, Picture of Guilt, she wanted to experience canoeing down the same river that her “make-a-believe” hero did, cruising past his estate.  She asked me to rent a canoe for us to navigate down that same Pennsylvania river.  Hoping to also become her hero, I agreed to try my maiden trip. Unfortunately, I capsized the canoe, and Helen stood in water up to her neck, laughing hysterically.  We obviously survived.

In Cambria, she thought it would be fun to ignore a sign that read “KEEP OUT, DANGER” and crawl through a hole in fence of a cattle range that included bulls. The range was not only bordered by the fence, but also a cliff with a hundred foot drop into the Pacific Ocean.  I thought this might be a might bit dangerous, but we did it. Obviously, we survived that too.

Do you remember the song “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets”?  She always figured I would somehow save her.  Life with Helen was not just concerts, ballets and operas, and a few pecks on the cheek.  It was exciting and risky as well.


Henry’s Handpicked Excerpts from:

Mimi’s Eulogy for Mom (full post here)

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. … 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.

Lenore’s Eulogy for Mom (full post here)

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.

Matt’s Eulogy for Mom (full post here)

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.

Six Years Without Her

This is what it was like being married to Helen:

5 Years Without Her

Here are a few things my Dad ask me to add to Mom’s website.  I had scanner issues and I’m adding them quickly before leaving for the cementery.  Maybe Henry can add some more thoughts, as we drive up and i can post them by cell.

By Henry

Click to View Larger Version


“Everything in the room gave off a warm coppery glow, except for a curving , citrus yellow love seat that seemed to float in the center of the room like a crescent of  lemon in a cup of freshly brewed tea” . That  is the last paragraph on page 50  of  Helen’s book, Picture of Guilt.   I have paused to savor this description on every reading, including the one last week.

Surprisingly, I find something new in every reading and a greater appreciation of the subtle nuances, and the elegant methods in her handling of  passionate, romantic engagements.  The writing was beautiful, she was beautiful.  Once again, the book and Helen, did not allow me to let them  go.  It is worth re-reading.

The first of these annual letters began with a letter of gratitude from Helen to those friends who sustained her during her illness.  Last year I wrote an  “In Gratitude”  letter to those particular friends that were members of the Prayer Group who had been in constant contact with her.  This “In Gratitude” letter is to God, to Whom I offer thanks every day for blessing me with Helen and a life of  indescribable, delirious happiness.  This is the first time I’ve thanked Him in writing.

Two years – In Gratitude

On this second anniversary of Helen’s passing, I decided to re-print a letter I had earlier mailed to a Prayer Group who supported her throughout her ordeal. I also owe this debt of gratitude to all her other friends who prayed for her over this ten year period.

The letter is a recap of excerpts from emails written by Helen to the Prayer Group from the date she obtained her laptop, May 23, 2006, through the last date she was able to write, September 29, 2007. The letters reveal insights into her thinking during that roller-coaster period.

I will never forget all of you for your prayers and subsequent contributions to this website.


05//23/06 I’m so excited. I’ve received my new laptop. This is my beautiful day.
07/12/06 I made funeral arrangement at Coleman Mortuary
08/21/06 Last night I feared I might not wake up the next day.
08/21/06 Everyone I know has faced heartbreak
09/14/06 Proud to be able to move around with my new walker instead of having to be pushed in wheelchair
09/22/06 Xolda pills not working. Tumors growing again
09/26/06 Literature Donna sent me discusses “the large world view”, but my world is getting smaller
10/13/06 Delayed chemo so I can go to Coronado condo
11/10/06 Starting new round of chemo
12/06/06 Had my last chemo. Feeling really bad; can’t think straight
12/17/06 Began Palliative care. Hope I can make it to family Christmas party
12/20/06 Refuse to take any more chemo. Began Avastin infusions which doctor hopes may prolong life
01/23/07 This was “my beautiful day”. The liver tumors are shrinking…. Love, prayers and gratitude
02/11/07 Made it to Henry’s birthday party
03/05/07 I’m so weak. Palliative nurse mentioned Hospice for the first time
03/08/07 Went to Chico’s. Narrow aisles. Hard to maneuver wheelchair, hangers are too high. The Chico experience is not what it used to be
04/16/07 Made it to Easter; even went to Matt & Mary’s San Diego condo It was another “My Beautiful Day”
04/25/07 Loud dispute between Henry and Cat Scan people re incorrect Scan prescription. They refused to clarify with Oncologist. He was furious, struck me as funny. Also found myself trying to talk people at belt buckle level from my wheelchair
6/15/07 praying for you, Donna, is my privilege
6/15/07 I’m not sure I am “a tough little cookie”. I don’t fear dying; I fear being sick
6/19/07 my major goal is to live long enough to see my first great grandchild. Angela is due February 2008
6/27/07 I will fight each battle as it occurs and do the simple things that bring laughter and pleasure to each of my remaining days
8/13/07 My hands shake too much to write or type any more
9/27/07 I signed up for Hospice a couple of days ago. Can use some prayers and I know where to go to get them. ..Love, prayers, and gratitude

Three days earlier, I had refused to allow ER at St Judes to admit her for continued testing the next day. She had reluctantly allowed me to take her to the ER, saying “promise you won’t let them admit me. I’ll never come out alive”. While awaiting test results in the ER, she said “Don’t worry, I’m a tough little cookie”.

Through all Helen’s “ups and downs” her prayer group continued to visit and pray for her. I know that Helen had been praying for you too. Meanwhile, I had been looking inward, hurting when she was down, ecstatic at each “up” as she achieved each of her short term goals, and always reveling in the joy of simply being with her throughout. Each of you lovely and good people lifted her spirits each time you visited or wrote, extending her life through your prayers. Helen particularly looked forward to, and appreciated, the Friday morning communion visits and flowers from Doris and Eileen. On the last visit Doris said “See you next Friday’, but we all knew there would be no next Friday.

With love, prayers and gratitude,


One Year Later

I cannot allow this date to pass without a remembrance entry. 


 Lenore had  heard these words December 17 from Helen, and she knew this was true  because “her mom had said so.”  Now her dad says it too.

The Healing Quilt

This beautiful quilt was made with love for Helen by the dear friends in her prayer group: Doris, Eileen, Loretta and Donna.

Henry wrote:
I asked Mimi to post this picture of the Healing Quilt which was created, sewn, and gifted to Helen by a group of loving ladies called the Prayer Group. They completed it about three years ago when Helen was undergoing Chemotherapy, and she blanketed herself with it during each treatment.

It carries the names of each of our children and grandchildren, each of the Quilt contributors, and a number of pictures and words that symbolized events and places Helen and I loved.

I offer my eternal thanks to these beautiful ladies whose prayers I firmly believe extended Helen’s life. Their close friendship dating back fifty years brought joy to Helen and me.

The Healing Quilt

Click for Larger Image

This Quilt is so precious a legacy that I’ve already passed it onto my five daughters. They are now taking turns displaying it. Each six months possession rotates from one home to another.