The Written Word

Today on the 10th anniversary of Mom’s death, I was initially planning on going to the cemetery like last year, talking to her and hoping for some kind of response, a feeling or a sense of her presence… but I didn’t go. She’d said, she actually didn’t want us hanging out there, as if that’s where she was there, and that must be true, because I don’t feel any closer to her when I’m there. I can talk to her anywhere, and I do, but it still makes me sad not to hear her answer back. You’d think after 10 years I’d have gotten use to our one sided conversations… I haven’t.

A few years ago it was suggested to me that I start journaling, but I didn’t care for it at all, it felt like talking to myself. But today it occurred to me… maybe I should write to mom! I still love reading her old emails, the longer the better. I’ve saved pretty much everything she ever wrote me. So today, I started writing to mom. It didn’t feel like talking to myself and there’s no expectation of hearing her respond. It just seems so fitting, writing to some one who loved to write and loved to read! I still have so much to say to her and I expect that will always be true. I wish I thought of this 10 years ago, I feel like I have a novel to write now. A novel… I think she’ll like that.

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!


Conversations with Mom

ltj2016cemeteryToday on the 9th anniversary of Her death, I went to the cemetery with the intent of planting myself next to Mom, for the entire day if need be, until she spoke to me. I keep trying to have conversations with her, silently, out loud and sometimes through tears, begging her to talk to me.

I thought how in Her last months, several times she said…  “you can ask me anything, tell me anything.” Funny how as much as she was such a wonderful conversationalist… some of the most memorable, poignant and touching things she said were but a few words. For example… after my third or fourth miscarriage she sent me flowers. The card simply said “There, there.”

Today was kinda like that.

A smile and a laugh like Her’s never fades

On the 17th, I was in Big Bear, for the second time in a month, for what started as a cleaning and redecorating project to prepare the cabin for sale. After 4 trips to the dump, it was clutter free and actually comfortable to be there. Alone at the cabin, while Gary and Trevor made the final trip to the dump to make room for the new furniture and beds… memories of the time Mom & Dad came up to play in the snow with nearly all of their grandchildren. As if it had been days ago (rather than 25 years) I could hear Mom laughing and talking to the kids as they made snowmen. I’m know I have photos of that day. hopefully I’ll be able to find them and add them to this post. I remember one photo in particular where they posed with the picaso-esque figure… Mom smiling like she was caught mid-laugh.

Gosh… come to think of it… i’m pretty sure every picture of her she’s caught smiling not posing with a smile. It was just naturally there whenever she was with family or friends, in fact think anyone would be hard press to remember a time when she wasn’t smiling, to her… life was beautiful and there was always a reason to smile.

In her last year, there were many time we had conversations that lead to tears… let me rephrase that… I WOULD BE IN TEARS. Come to think of it… i don’t recall even one single time seeing her cry… i would be crying and she, SHE WOULD BE SMILING!!!! Remember, that consoling comforting way she had? Not trying to stop you from crying, not making light of your sadness. I remember one time crying uncontrollably, wanting to stop, wanting to be brave but just not able to. I remember her holding me and talking (you could hear her smiling in her voice) I could feel the love and calm flowing from her. Man, didn’t everything about her just exude calm, love and happiness?

I miss that so much.

I had a particularly rough week this week with work, which is why I’m days late writing. Couple of jobs driving me crazy and the client constantly wanting to talk on the phone, sending text after text pushing the limits of the work I was already doing for free, to help land a big job. Anyway, was on a conference call at 7:30pm when I missed a call from Henry. When I didn’t answer, he texted me… I responded, telling him I’d call him at 9 when I expected to be done. When 9 came and went and the client was still pushing for more…. i wasn’t in the best of moods and warned Henry by text. We didn’t end up talking that night but yesterday Henry sent me a text, reminding me about something what Mom use to say… “don’t sweat the small stuff, and… it’s ALL small stuff.”

She even said that about cancer! She said… “I can do cancer standing on my head.”

So… I suppose I can handle a rough week. I just wish I didn’t have to do it without her. Everything was easier when she was here.

I miss HER so much. <3

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.

The Calm Before the Storm.

I was looking for photos of my mom today, the 8th anniversary of her passing, and came across these great pictures of her in Coronado with my boys. The location is a corner condo that had a view of both the beach and the bay (in case you are trying to place the spot). I think these were taken in the late 90’s, just one year before it was discovered that she had breast cancer. Definitely photos of the calm before the storm.

God, I miss her so much.  It seems like much longer than 8 years since she’s been gone.  I’ve needed her so much but I’m relieved that she didn’t have to bear watching Casey unravel these past 5 yrs or so.  Wish she was here to magically make it better; as we all think our mothers can do!  My Mom could always make me feel like everything was going to be OK.


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.

Notebook Observations

I have a little notebook that Nana had in her purse for a while in the 90s with some of her notes, ideas, and also observations about the things happening around her. I love how she’s looks at the world. Where most people would be tuning it out, playing on their smartphone, or focused on the next thing on the to-do list, she’s truly seeing the people around her. Their interactions. Imagining their stories. She writes “normal life” with such a flair that it makes you wish each were starting out a novel! I thought others who love her (and her writing) might also appreciate these.


2/10/1997, Huntington Park. She’s walking through a park on her way back from the courthouse, and must have stopped to write down some observations…

“…Sometimes you see a couple with grocery bags full of food. They are cooking chicken on the party barbecue. A lot of chicken. When it’s cooked, they put it in a plastic ice box. I think they live in someone’s garage. They have no stove. They are cooking for their family. Maybe for more than one family. It disturbs me to think of people living like this—but in a way—I admire their resourcefulness.

Next to the park there is a huge school. A middle school, I think. The ize of a city block. It is named after a man whose last name is Gage. The school is very ugly, all concrete and chain link. You can walk “into” (not “onto”) the school grounds from the park and the parking lot of the courthouse, but once you’re in, it’s like a prison.

…What is the reason for the fence? To keep the students in? Or to keep intruders, vandals, drug dealers, and gangsters out? Probably both.

I thought to myself, “Can any meaningful learning go on in this place?”

But when I went to SIA in New York, the buildings were in terrible shape. Dark and dingy. Run down. Deplapidated. Both the Annex on 51st Street and the main building in the seventies (was it 77th street?) and a great deal of wonderful learning went on there. It was a wonderful school. It wasn’t the surroundings. It was the teachers, or the students, or the times.”

Huntingtion Park 1Huntingtion Park 2Huntingtion Park 3

On the Royal Carribean Cruise, Feb 22nd

“A beautiful day—sitting in the sun on the deck.

Near us, a young couple. Maybe of the 19 honeymooners on the ship. They are sun-bathing. Both very good-looking, but the girl is beautiful. So much so that she doesn’t look real. Tall and tan and young and lovely. Red hair. A wonderfully voluptuous figure. Not too thin but not heavy, just full and shapely. The guy grabs her hand and whispers to her, but she just keeps looking in the direction of the sun. Soaking up some rays. Getting more and more beautiful.

There are Cuban cigars for sale in Ensenada. You can buy them, but you can’t bring them into the States. They crumble them in front of you in/at the U.S. Customs when you return. But they can be smoked on the ship before returning. So you see some people, men and women, walking on the rear decks smoking long, neat cigars. Not fat, not skinny, but long and tightly rolled.”

Cruise 1 Cruise 2

At Nana & PopPop House

Here is a short (3 minute) clip of celebrating Luke’s 1st birthday at NaNa and PopPop’s house.  Mom makes an appearance around the 1:30 mark but her voice and laughter can be heard throughout the entire video.  It reminds me what a perfect hostess she was:  making sure everyone had what they need and always brightening up the conversation with her happy spirit.  How I love her!

More of these to come, as I transfer my home movies from analog tape to digital.
Hope you enjoy them!

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

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Another Poem by Helen as a Young Girl

Here is another of one of “Young Helen”s poems.  My Dad showed it to me earlier this week and I was surprised that it was the first time I had ever seen it.  It had me laughing out loud.  I thought it was so cute.  She had such great self-deprecating sense of humor! (Which you also get a glimpse of in her Ezra poem).

Click on the image below to open up a full size image.  We are not sure what age she was when she wrote this, but obviously she had not yet met my Dad!  Maybe Uncle Bill could shed some light on whether or not the fiery redhead ever really existed?

By Helen Minze

Click to view

MoonRiver (Full Version)

Here is the full version of  Mom singing Moonriver  for Patty, who video-taped it during our trip to Kauaii.  You can hear PopPop in the background teaching one or both of Patty’s boys, how to play poker!  At first, it bothered him to hear that he was talking through Mom’s performance … but I thought it was a very sweet scene to imagine:  Mom singing a sentimental song from Patty’s childhood, so that she could tape it.  And Dad, hanging out in the hotel room with his grandsons teaching them to play cards.

A Lulllaby and Kiss Goodnight

When my mom would put the kids to bed each night, she would let us each pick a song that we wanted her to sing to us before we fell asleep.  I think all of the kids in the family cherish this as a very special part of our childhood.  With six kids, it must have been a very long process, now that I think about it.  But as a child, it was a few minutes of the day when we had our Mom all to ourselves as she sat on the edge of our bed and sang our request.    This song, MoonRiver, (we all later learned) turned out to be the song that everyone thought was “their special song.”   Knowing kids, I wonder if it was the song that took the longest to sing?

When we were in Hawaii for Helen & Henry’s 50th wedding anniversary, Patty coaxed my Mom into singing it to her yet again!  And, thank goodness, she even videotaped  it!  I posted just about 20 seconds of the song here, because I’m not really sure how my Mom would feel about a video of her singing being posted to the intenet?  Would she mind?   When I was a little girl, I thought my Mom had the most beautiful singing voice I’d ever heard,  even prettier than Snow White.  I still think she has the voice of an Angel.  The very best part is the end, where she gives Patty a kiss and tells her she loves her.   It makes me feel like she’s right here, giving me a kiss goodnight.


Four Years Without Mom


Well, if you haven’t noticed, as I tried to retrieve some missing posts and comments today … I managed to wipe out the entire blog on the most crucial day of it’s duty. Here is the image that Dad asked me to scan and post to the site:

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This is something that Dad came across in Mom’s desk drawer, I think, and has had hanging on the wall with a photo of Mom for the past year or so.

Now, I’m going to try to retrieve and restore the past year of posts. Also post that video I promised you!    (Scroll down the page here, to read Henry’s comments about this image)

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“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,



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.


Jan Marie

Mothers Day with Mom

Mom,On Saturday, I stopped by the cemetery to bring flowers and visit with you, but it seemed you were not there.  I said my prayers that evening and spoke to you, but was not sure I had your ear.  I discussed your absence with Wanda and reminisced   about our lives with you, but did not feel you join our conversation.  Then on Mother’s Day morning I thought about and prayed for Dad, and there you were.  I should have known that would be where I’d find you.  That’s where you have always been; there was never just Mom or just Dad, always the two of you.  And even after you’d gone, I saw you there.  When Dad was hurt and stayed with us a few weeks, I felt you here with us as well.Happy Mothers Day Mom.  I miss you so much, but now I remember where to find you.  Love, Chris

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.

Today at 11:45am, I sat in her chair and remembered this…

Years ago, at St. Jude’s hospital the night before Mom was to have open heart surgery, I said something to her when I kissed her goodnight that I shouldn’t have said. It was true and I meant it, but still I shouldn’t have said it. I don’t think she answered me when I said “Don’t leave me, YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE ME.” Later I was ashamed of myself, what a selfish thing it was for me to say. Even though I felt that way, I thought it many many times again but I never said it out loud to her again. At least I don’t think I did.

Last summer, as I sat snuggled up on the couch with Mom, I found myself saying it over and over again in my head and I started to cry. Mom wanted to know what I was thinking about. At first I wasn’t going to tell her but then I thought it might be a good time to apologize for what I had said. I’m surprised she could even understand me, I barely got a few words out before I was crying so hard I could barely breathe.

Through my tears I told her how sorry I was for making her worry about me at a time like that. I told her it was the most selfish thing I’d ever done. I asked her if she remembered and if she would forgive me and you what she did? She laughed! Just kind of a soft laugh, but she laughed… and said “Oh Lenore, I’m never going to leave you.” And she meant it.

Isn’t it  interesting that Dad was thinking essentially the same thing today… It Never Ends.

For as long as it took me to write this memory, it was actually just one of so many things running through my head as I watched the DVD. I’ll share just one other, a question really. I was wondering if, in heaven, Mom’s gets to go back and actually be in some of those moments again, the ones that we long for as we watch them in movies or see them in photos… The times that feel like the happiest days of our lives and we had so many.


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

Sorrow and the Scarlet Leaf

A few years ago I gave Mom a little box that held index cards I had personalized with her name. Apparently she continued to use the box to keep quotes she liked, story ideas,  notes about books she loved or that friends had recommended. Dad asked me if I wanted to bring it home with me. What a little treasure box it turned out to be. I gave it to her filled with blank note cards, and she gave it back to me filled with thoughtful little treasures from her heart. Sometimes, when I want some words of wisdom from my Mom, I’ll open the box and pull out a random card to see “what my Mom wants to say” to me today.

Today, I plucked out this one and found it particularly poignant. I thought I’d share it with all of you on her website. I’m sure she saved it in reference to the book she had written called “Dread Autumn.” (or was it called Firethorn?).

Sorrow and the scarlet leaf,
Sad thoughts and sunny weather;
Ah me! this glory and this grief
Agree not well together.

(T. W. Parsons – A Song for September)

The full text of the poem can be found here. But Mom wrote down just that one short verse.


There is another quote that I found repeated on many cards in this box, and also tucked into several books. This one I find particularly powerful, because she had written it so many times and it was obviously (and very literally) ‘words she lived by.”

I am afflicted, but not crushed;
Perplexed but not despairing;
Struck down but not destroyed.

(2 Corinthians 4)

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.


Three Months without Her.

Of course all I did was think of Mom today. Whenever I think of her and the things she did and said, I have to smile. It’s only when I think of the rest of us, who can’t bear to be without her, that I cry.

I cry the most for my Dad, who can’t pretend that she’s still here and just an hour away. Every moment of every day I know he feels the loss. I know, no matter how much we love him or how much we want to spend time with him, we can’t fill the space that was Hers. I think of all the times he told me “I still get weak in the knees when I see her face.” It’s something I tell my friends when I want to give them a glimpse of the love they shared. I don’t think anyone, even those of us who lived with their love can comprehend the depth of it… and now, the depth of the loss.

But as Mom made so clear to us in her words and what she had written on the back of her prayer card, it was important to Her that our memories were happy ones. She didn’t spend her life, not even in her last months, being anything but optimistic, grateful, courageous and even happy, to her last days. And what I find most amazing is that she wasn’t faking it for us. That was the real Her. Here are Her exact words from an email (9-3-06), when I had questions about her conversation with God.

Dearest Lenore –
Yes – my darling daughter – you’ve understood. When I mention talking to God to you or any of the other kids I’m hoping to open the door to whatever kind of talk you or they feel ready for. Just remember – I promise never to put on a show, to lie or be “brave” for you. On the phone, in an e-mail, when we are alone or with people. this isn’t the time for that. Ask me anything. My answers may bring tears to your beautiful eyes but I don’t think they will make you sad.
We’ll write or talk more in the coming days and weeks. Heart to heart. I just realized what a beautiful expression that is. My heart to yours.
I love you Lenora. And because you are a mother too, you know how much.
Good night.

She was happy, she is happy and she wants us to be happy.
We miss her, she misses us and still she wants us to be happy.

I know when I’m able to laugh at things when I talk about her, it makes her laugh too.

I hope she knows how hard I try to be happy more often than sad. I know if I don’t try, she’ll be sad.

Wanted to share with Mom…..

I was very happy when I got home from work today. I had received good news from my landlord on a repair I’ve been waiting for for years. As I changed, I recalled Mom asking (throughout the years) if it was done yet. I instictively went to the phone and began to dial. I stopped, looked at the phone. I had dialed Mom and Dad’s number to share with Mom it was finally getting done. I could tell Dad. Not while crying I couldn’t. I heard Mom telling me, “I heard you Patty”. When I finally came out of my room. It was a quiet night.

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.


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.


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.