Sunday, April 7, 2013

My Aunt Helen

There is no progress to report from this past week.  Work at home was put on hold while I attended the funeral of my Aunt Helen in Sioux City, Iowa.

Helen was born in Yankton, SD on Sept. 25, 1924 and died March 28, 2013. 

Family gatherings were high on Helen's priority list and she attended many.  Here she is with my brother, John, on his wedding day.

Helen was the last of my parent's siblings to leave us, so her funeral was a gathering of the next generation from various parts of the midwest.

Because Helen never married and had no children, she devoted herself to her nieces and nephews.  Right up to the end she knew the names of not only the children of her 15 nieces and nephews, but also the names of their children.

  Knowing lineage meant a lot to her, and she knew it well, both the generations before her and the ones that followed.

She kept herself informed of events in our lives and then kept the cousins informed of each others lives as well.  As someone said at the funeral, "She was the glue that held us together."

I hold my Aunt Helen partially responsible for my start in life.  She introduced her teacher (my mom) to my dad (her brother).  So it was at a very young age that she began her life work of putting people in touch and then keeping them in touch. (Helen is the third from the right standing next to my dad.)

My mother had a brother and a sister and between them seven kids.  Helen knew these cousins well, and almost all of them were able to attend the funeral.

It was fun catching up with the cousins from both sides of the family

Many thanks to Jim and Colleen for their outstanding hospitality.  What a great place to stay!  (Photo taken from their deck at sunrise. The bright spot is a yard light, not the sun.)

You can see why it was hard to leave.  The meals prepared by Jim and Colleen were also hard to leave behind.  It was a great time with the family that gathered to say good-by to a woman who was loved by all who knew her.

Helen wasn't opposed to a cold one now and again.  Here she is with her "favorite" niece.  We talked at the funeral about how Helen made us all feel like her favorite. But we joked that my sister, Sheila, might have had the edge.  Now they are back together again...and who knows?....laughing and sipping a brew together.

Good bye Helen, we will miss you.


  1. Tricia,
    It's been a few days since college days at Wayne State, but I'm thinking some of these faces look familiar! Lovely tribute to your Aunt. Enjoyed seeing the "family/cousins" pics. I'm curious to know if you and two of your sisters are in both pics as well as your cousin Colleen. Looks like John and perhaps Danny are in the pics too. Sympathies to all. Blessings.
    Nan (Dohse) Bleth

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  3. Hi Nan. What a nice surprise. I typed an email with all the names of those shown in the photos. Then I noticed that anonymous is a non-reply comment form so you probably won't get it. If you see this, please email me at and I'll forward that info. Thanks for your kindness. Good to hear from you.