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.

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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.

Helen

Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of Helen’s passing. Mourning her has given way to the joy of her memory. Her smiling face is clear in my mind and my ears can still hear her laughter.

As with all those I have lost, certain things happen that spark a thought of them.

Helen will always spark a thought, a memory, a smile, a laugh. Her courage will always be there to give me courage and her love for all will always be there to help me be a better person.

Henry, I know how hard loosing Helen has been for you and I admire your effort to keep going because you know that is how she would want it.

Prayers to all tomorrow as we remember Helen, each in our own special way.

Love,

Jan Marie

REMEMBERING A LIFE LIVED WITH LOVE

On October 15, 2007 I wrote a remembrance of Helen titled “Living A Life Of Love”. On October 17, 2007 Helen slipped quietly into God’s waiting arms. The last paragraph of my remembrance was:

When Helen passes on to be with God, I am absolutely sure He will welcome her with open arms. In Heaven she will find a continuing life of love where she will enjoy reuniting with those who have passed on before her and watching over all of us that remain on this earth living with her loving memory.

A year since her passing and I can say with absolute certainty that Helen has been watching over all those She loved and held dearly. During this first year without Helen, we have all experienced a world of emotions. So many times there have been moments when Helen has entered my thoughts or I have reflected on how Helen would have felt about or handled a situation. I have laughed aloud by myself when I do something that we used to laugh about together.

The person I believe She is watching over the most is Her beloved Henry. Her continuing Love from above has given him the strength to carry on. I believe Helen must be at peace knowing Henry has relocated close to several of his children (can’t help thinking that was her doing) and remains continually active with his business.

I pray for all those whose lives have been touched by Helen and who will be remembering her tomorrow with Love, Happiness and Joy at having been privileged to know Her.

With love and God’s Blessings,

Jan Marie

Six Months without Her

How strange things still are without Mom. The other day I heard that saying “life goes on.” I hate that saying, mostly I hate that it’s true.

We all go to work, the kids go to school, the weekend comes and goes and we do it all over again, week after week. Now here we are six months later. There is nothing we can do to stop the time that passes without her. It makes me so sad but it also makes me realize nothing has changed about my connection with her. I still can’t manage to make her appear no matter how much I beg her to come. But still I feel as close to her as ever.

Mimi told me something she said to Dad, about not hearing Mom or feeling her presence, and it made perfect sense to me. If Mom would come to us at home and we could see and talk to her… why would life have to go on for us? We could just sit at home and be with her. We’d never have to figure out what to do with our feelings or our lives for that matter. Think about how obsessed we’d become with Her. And we all know, that’s the last thing she wanted. Remember her prayer card “grieve for a while for me if you must, then let your grief be comforted by trust.”

I do trust Her. I know she’s with us. Not in the way we want but in a way that is appropriate, a way that let’s us go on and not be stifled by our grief.

Today Mimi, Patty and I went to the cemetery to have a picnic with Mom. After a little praying and a few tears, it was all girl talk, the four of us. I think Mom liked us just sitting around with her, having a conversation that we’d have had if she was sitting right there in circle we mad around her spot.

I really do get a sense that Mom is happy when we are together enjoying each other’s company. I remember a conversation Mom and I had sitting on the cozy little couch in the apartment. Mom talked about how important it was that the family gather together as often as we do. She said it’s not an easy task to get 30 people together. She said sure, every now and then someone can’t make it, but she was very proud of the effort that we all made to make it happen. I know she felt comforted know that tradition would continue.

I still have a hard time when the whole family gets together, because we are incomplete. Her bright loving face was never lost in the crowd. I still look for her, I feel like she could be around a corner just out of sight.

Still, for now the smaller get togethers are easier for me and I know Mom likes that too. We are so fortunate to have everyone so close by. Mimi and I have always been able to spend time together because we live so close, but we’ve made it a point (the three sisters) to spend more time together and Dad has been coming for Sunday lunches. It reminds me of Sunday lunches with Grand-pop and Nannette. I love the Sundays when Dad makes the hour drive just to have lunch with us.

It so nice to be able to laugh and enjoy the family Mom and Dad created. So, yes life does go on… and you know Mom wants it that way.

 

Some days are worse than others… like today.

Don’t know why but I’ve been crying all day. I don’t want to work, I don’t want to go out, I don’t want to be cheered up… I just want my Mom.

But I have to work anyway. Luckily I don’t have to see any clients today, so I can cry. And I do, all day. As I’m working I go to my notes in Entourage to look for something and there I see a note titled “Anyway… from Mom.” Below is the email she wrote on August 5, 2006 and below that is the poem she sent. It’s sooo Mom. It doesn’t have anything to do with why I’m so sad today, but it makes me feel good anyway.

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Dear Kiddles -I NEVER forward e-mails that are sent me. I tell friends,”Please don’t ask me to forward messages to 5 (6?10?) deserving people. I DON”T forward.” But – I just had to share this one with all of you. The photos are sweet but it’s the words that – well, see what you think.

Love ya -The Mama

P. S. Dad says I say “Anyway” all the time.

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The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Success anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of being selfish and having ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.

What you spend years building, some may try to destroy overnight; Build anyway.

If your honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.

Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you have anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it’s between you and God; It was never between you and them anyway.

Looking and Listening for My Mom

Today it has been two months since I’ve seen my Mom. Never in my life have I gone this long without seeing or speaking to her. In fact, I’m sure I’ve never gone two weeks without her. I don’t know when it starts to get easier but I do know it’s not yet and since Thanksgiving I think it’s actually gotten harder. I suppose that’s not unusual for the holidays to be more difficult.

What surprises me the most is that I feel like I’m looking for her and somehow surprised when she’s not there. She wasn’t at our family Thanksgiving, she wasn’t at the baby shower for her first great grandchild and worst of all she not in my room at night when I call for her. She’s not even at the cemetery.

I do understand death and the finality of it but my heart doesn’t seem to get it. I find myself saying almost daily “how can this be, how can she be gone.” I feel like a little kid who doesn’t understand death, I say out loud to her “Mom, where are you?”

I’ve been expecting her, she told me she’d come to me, she promised. I make deals with her. I tell her, I known you can’t just appear but if I close my eyes and put out my hand let me feel your hand. I loved to hold her hand, so delicate and soft. I wait patiently… Nothing!

About a week ago I stayed in bed much too long on a Saturday morning wanting my Mom. I hadn’t done a bit of Christmas shopping or even put up my tree. When I finally came out of my room I saw boxes of Christmas decoration the family had dug out over a week ago. My first reaction was Bah Humbug, I don’t even want to have Christmas this year, not with out my Mom.

I did however want my Mom to have a tree, so I went out, bought a tree and took it to the cemetery. I stayed longer than I’m sure Mom would have wanted me to. Before I left the cemetery I asked her if she like the tree. I heard in my head “yes, now go home and put up your own tree.” Was that me??? It was my voice, but it sure wasn’t something I felt like doing. But just in case it was Mom, I thought I better get home and put up the tree.

On the way home it occurred to me that Mom might not like what I wrote on the card attached to the tree. I wrote; I don’t know how to do Christmas without you.

A few days later I talked to my dear friend Nancy, who lost both her parents. Like me, Nancy was with her Mom when she passed. I told Nancy about what I heard in my head at the cemetery and she insisted that was my Mom. I wanted to believe her, so I did. But still, it was my voice.

I told my Dad and my sister Mimi, and I’m sure like me they’d like to believe it too… but still, it was my voice. We all want to hear her voice, so very desperately want to hear her beautiful voice.

The night before last I was up alone watching a movie, not talking to myself at all, just half heartily watching a movie, when I was interrupted by a voice in my head, loud and clear! What I heard wouldn’t have made any sense expect for a conversation that was happing on the screen. It startled me and I rewound the movie to hear what they said. I don’t care if you believe me or not, my Mom answers a question that was asked by a character in that movie! I was so happy I cried and laughed… it was my Mom I know it was.

Sorry, I’m not going to tell you what it was. But I’ll tell you this, I heard it again as I began to wake the next morning. The same answer, but it felt like it was to a different question.

Today I saw Nancy again, and I told her about it. I told her this time I’m sure it was my Mom. I told her I wish it were my Mom’s voice, I want to hear her voice. And Nancy, bless her beautiful heart, said “Lenore your Mom speaks through you not to you. She has no physical being any longer, no body to see or touch and no voice to hear.” She also said something to the effect that she’s not in a form we can understand and for now this is her way to reach us.

As I think about my Mom’s words and what Nancy said today, on this the second month anniversary of her death, I know now for sure I found her, she’s here and she told me something very important…

How about this, I’ll tell you Mom’s answer but not the question. The question doesn’t matter, because what she said answers so many questions for me.

The answer is “It never ends.”

I know this is true… Mom said so.

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.”

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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…”

Mimi

Poem from Henry Jr.

This is an email I sent to Mom in January 06 when I heard Mom’s cancer had come back.

Mom:

I have been trying to make you a card all night but I’m just too inept to get it completed and sent as a card.

Words cannot express my love for you but a poem, I don’t know the author, from the movie “Patch Adams” w/ Robin Williams almost comes close. Maybe I mentioned it to you before:

” I love you,
I love you without knowing how or why or from where,
I love you without pride or complexities,
I LOVE YOU BECAUSE I KNOW NO OTHER WAY THAN THIS, . . .
So close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
So close that when you close your eyes I go to sleep . . . ”

Please God let her be ok!

LOVE,
henry (jr.)

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

Living A Life of Love

How blessed I feel to have known a person like Helen Haddad. As she reaches the end of her long struggle, I look back and remember the life of love she has lead. She has loved her God, her Husband, her Children, her Grandchildren, her Family, and her Friends.

She has spent many hours in prayer with her prayer group and her Church. Showing her devotion and caring by asking God to protect those in need as well as those she loves.

She has also loved her art. Editing, critiquing, and writing brought her great joy. Helping Henry edit his seminar presentations, critiquing works for her writing groups, and pouring her heart into the writing of “Picture of Guilt”. Helen was on cloud nine when her labor of love was published and she won the Eppie award. We all shared her joy at the awards “Picture of Guilt” received and none of us were surprised at how tirelessly she worked to promote it.

I remember how much she loved to shop. Every Tuesday to Ross for senior discount day. Chico’s was her favorite. How we would laugh with her when she got such a great deal on an item of clothing using her discount coupons. And the fashion shows, we always enjoyed giving her our opinions on which outfit she should wear for whatever event. I called her the catalog queen. Thank goodness for HSN.

Helen and Henry seeing the world together also brought her a love of traveling. By airplane, car, cruise ship, or train. Alone, with Henry or with family. Across the oceans or across the states. For work or play. Helen was always ready to go. If you wanted to watch Helen light up just mention Pechanga, her favorite local destination. No matter where she traveled, she always brought us back a gift memento.

When Helen got sick, her love for life kept her going. Never once did you hear a negative, only positive. As long as she could go, she went. When she was feeling ill, she would look at it as a moment in time to be worked through so she could continue living life. She controlled her illness, it did not control her.

When it came time to leave her beautiful home in La Habra Heights, she embraced it with gusto. Searching for just the right place to spend the rest of her life, she found her haven in her present location. Comfy, cozy, decorated just the way she wanted and a balcony overlooking the fairway of the neighboring golf course. Helen talked of the peace and comfort she felt living there.

Nothing has brought her greater love than Henry and her Children. She has great pride is each one of them. You could see that each time she spoke of them. Her granchildren are also a source of pride. When we last spoke, she was very excited about the great-grandchild on the way.

When Helen passes on to be with God, I am absolutely sure He will welcome her with open arms. In Heaven she will find a continuing life of love where she will enjoy reuniting with those who have passed on before her and watching over all of us that remain on this earth living with her loving memory.

Thank you for giving us a forum to express our Love for Helen.

God Bless all of you.

Love,

Jan Marie