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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Helen took her leave....

I had a weekly job of cleaning the house and taking care of an elderly couple from church growing up in my teen years. Allen and Helen Bonnell were the sweetest people! Helen was actually much older then her husband and had many health problems even a few strokes. She was a spunky lady with curly dark gray hair. She wore eye glasses and when she laughed you couldn't help but join in with her. Her rolly polly body would move very cautiously. I was always happy to help her. I liked visiting with her in her favorite chair as I went about cleaning. She was easily confused, emotional and proud. I learned what things she made her upset as well. She often said she felt useless, lazy or a good for nothing... as I dusted around her. I tried to get her to help one day thinking she would be happy to fold the clean clothes, only I ended up with her crying over how she can't remember where the clothes went once folded. I was young about 13 when I first went to work for them, I learned quickly how to not overwhelm Helen, I looked forward to that one day every week. As I grew over those years, I ended up feeling like their house was my own (if not much more calmer). I loved every story Helen could remembered! And if a certain topic came up Helen would share the same well remembered story each time, I liked knowing what she was about to say next. I always reacted as if she had never shared it before. I felt I understood that even though all the stories were mostly repetitive, I responded with honor and respect to them. If she couldn't finish her story for some odd reason then I would reminded her of how it ended. Because she would worry over not remembering it for the remaining day if I didn't. Helen also hated the words "Healthy Food." She would say "I have never tasted anything good out of what someone said was Healthy!" I would laugh at this as I tried to get her to eat her carrot sticks. Soon I stopped saying "This is Healthy for you!" because she would clam up and refuse to eat it. After a while I would just say "This is so GOOD, I love it!" then she would at least try it for herself. I was proud of myself if she did like whatever veggie I made. I also enjoyed how Allen cared and loved his wife. Caring for her everyday for years after her first stroke really wore him down. Helen always talked about how she was surprised he would even marry her, for she was just an old school teacher. I loved how she would giggled when Allen would reply "Because you are beautiful. and I thought you would be able to teach me how to read." Then we all would laugh at this. I was able to have such a place to escape from my own teen-aged life once a week. I was happy, safe and balancing myself out before returning home in the evenings. I was refreshed by how Allen and Helen loved each other, how they lived so comfortably together, and how they shared that comfort with me.

Allen was not his usual cheerful joking self. As I cooked up corn and mashed potatoes for dinner, ever since I had gotten a real job now that I was 18, he seemed sadden by this change. I was sad too for it meant I was an actual adult now. Though I kept popping over for dinners and surprise chats with them. For being able to spend all day long there had ended. Now Allen had close family and amazingly good neighbors all around him. So my moving on with my job, didn't make me feel I had abandon them to be all alone. 
On this beautiful evening the sun was setting over such a stressful day for everyone. Helen had another stroke that morning, she sat silent in her chair not responding. This was hard on Allen the most, though neighbors and family stopped by to check in and wonder what to do. I would watch Helen move with out purpose or reason in her chair. I kept trying to see if she would come back to us, telling her what is for dinner even. We all had a sad feeling that after dinner we would take her to the hospital, she wasn't getting better. As Allen went to off by himself for awhile, I washed the dinner dishes praying and thinking about Helen. I knew that once I got outside for a long walk I would feel better, I barely made it to the corner of their big back yard, This was my usual walk through long stretch field into the neighboring farms and fruit orchards. I was struck by a sudden sense of panic and fear at that corner of yard, an alarming voice in my head demanded me to stop walking and I did. I stood there my heart racing uncontrollably and I was breathing heavy, "  What in the world?"  I asked myself trying to move forward on my walk, I needed to take this walk! At least to clear my head and calm myself down. But instead another alarm bell rang in my head with The sudden understanding this voice said "Run Debby Run!" I stood there looking around by the fear growing inside of me, like a bolt of lightening again. "Run, Run Back to Helen, RIGHT NOW."  I was almost out of breath running all the way back up the huge yard, I felt like I  was going to be to late if I didn't run back. I slid to my knees by her side with tears pouring down my neck . "Helen! Oh Helen!" She wasn't really looking at anything, but when I said her name she shot me a look of knowing herself, then she began to drift away forever, I boldly sung "What a friend we have in Jesus." to calm my sudden panicking self. My voice was softly filling the living room as the 2 of us sat there in soft warm glow of the sun light, that sunset was almost gone too, 
I never let go of her hand until I knew, until I saw our Sweet Helen, our Dear Lady took her leave....


  1. Wow, Debster, what an honor to be there for Helen until her very end.....

  2. I often wondered what if I had ignored that warning voice? I would have miss my place in time, The honor is to who ever warned me:-)