|Go Back to Commontary On...Index
The Legacy of a Lovely Lady
by Paula Lonergan
Vol 2 Issue 2
Barry White, the soulful crooner, a big teddy bear, singer of lustful love songs, well, you get the idea, unfortunately, he died this past week. I loved Barry. And his Love Unlimited orchestra. He apparently died from complications of various sorts it seems. He was 58. I only hope he lived a happy and full life. I know he was responsible for the bringing joy into many people’s lives with his rhythms, rhymes, and soul.
However, I received bad news on a more personal level this week. A dear friend of mine died. She was 82 years old.
You know how in life you meet people who are just simply beautiful inside and out. This describes Ms. Helena. I actually met Helena's two daughters first when I moved to California. They are great, too. Apples don't fall far from the tree.
Many years ago when I was young and flighty (well, flightier than I am now), I planned a trip to New York. It happens that is where Helena lived. Helena's daughter told me to stay with her mom in New York. I gladly took her advice. This was my first time alone in the big Apple.
Helena lived in White Plains, out in the suburbs. She lived in the projects, in a many-storied building with guys hanging out in front. They never bothered Helena, however, for she had known many of these boys since they were babies and they respected her. And if a stranger was found to be bothering her, you could bet if the local boys found out it was "ON," as they say in the vernacular.
Helena lived very simply and graciously shared her bedroom when I came to stay with her. Her home was filled with books, which I was delighted to devour when visiting with her. Her life was devoted to her community service work. She spurred me on to engage fully in helping others in the same way she did.
She was kind, generous, and a good listener. I remember on one spur of the moment trip to New York, I visited her when in great distress because of a particular problem. She listened, offered suggestions, and helped me through that hard time. I will never forget her and the love and consideration she showed me.
She was also quite funny. I remember one day I was sitting at the kitchen table and she was in another room. I sneezed and out of habit said, 'Excuse me.' She came into the kitchen and making fun of me said, 'Why are you saying excuse me, when there is no one in this room with you?' All I could do is shake my head agreeing with her and laugh.
Between my visits with Helena, I tried to keep in touch with her by writing her letters. She wasn't much of a letter writer herself, she preferred to call me, which she did on occasion.
After suffering several mini-strokes, her daughters felt it was not good for her to live by herself. So, she came to live with one of her daughters in California. I got to see her while she lived here. I also had her over for a large party in my small apartment, but that's another story. By then, her memory was not very good, but she was still as sweet as ever.
When I received the call from her daughter telling me her mother died, all I could do was think about the times we spent together. The times we sat and talked, walked to the store, and ate at her small kitchen table. She was very beautiful as a person. However, I couldn't remember if I ever told her so, or if I used the right words when if I did. I hope I did. I hope she knew.
Ms. Helena will remain in my heart and mind....until....What a great legacy she leaves behind, not only in the love shown to and for me, but the self-sacrificing love shown to all the lives she touched. Her legacy of love lives on!
July 6, 2003