My Aunt Helena Martens
My Aunt Helena Martens died last week too, but that was in Kelowna, BC. (I hope you don’t get depressed if I tell you this story too; besides, Gra’ma Kroeker always said that deaths come in threes in one’s own circle of acquaintances.)
Aunt Helena was the middle one of Dad’s three sisters. I always liked her and got along well with, and we corresponded with letters too, until she got too blind and confused to write. But I called her in January for her birthday and she invited me to come visit her. I’ve always been closer to Aunt Jean in Ontario. I even lived with her a while when I went to Ontario in 1971. But I loved and admired Aunt Helena too. I identified with her as well, as she was very tenderhearted, and whenever she talked of family or spiritual things, she would get this emotional tremor in her voice – which happens to me too.
Well, last week Tuesday, I was skimming through my wall in Facebook while eating my quick lunch, when I spotted a post by a Quinn Martens, saying his grandmother Helena Martens had died, and he named his Dad, Murray and his Aunts Cindy and Brenda, and Uncle Perry. Well, instantly I recognized those names! I know Quinton too, but just as a name on my prayer list for that clan, as I’ve never met him in person. That applies to most of my cousins’ children.
I waited until my supper break to phone Cindy and get the scoop. She runs a care home for seniors, who need meals and some watching but not heavy nursing. Her mother had moved into her Borden House a couple of years ago, when she and Uncle Henry had tripped and fallen over each other as they got up in the morning in a seniors’ complex in Abbotsford. Uncle Henry had a shingle in his eye, as well as Alzheimer’s, and Aunt Helena had broken an arm in that fall. He had ended up in a hospital and then a nursing home, while Brenda had taken her Mom to Cindy’s place in Kelowna.
So Cindy told me that in the last couple of months her Mom had had a lot of back pain, but was afraid of going out. She even stopped eating and drinking. So on the weekend they had finally insisted and taken her to hospital, where they discovered that the vertebrae in her back were disintegrating – falling apart.(Oouch! I know how painful just one simple fracture there can be!) There was really nothing they could do for her but to give her morphine. They packed her up and took her to a hospice, thinking she might last another week or two. But she died the next day. Tuesday the 14th.
Cindy said that they were thinking of just having a “Come n’ Go” at the funeral home for her, but not until sometime in April. So far there has been no further word. I’ve found the page the funeral home puts up on legacy.com, but so far there is no obituary, nor any announcement about a memorial service.
I’m beginning to wonder if my cousins know how to do this. It may be time to call Cindy again and see what their decision is.
Although, if it is going to be a month away, there is time to consider whether and how I might be able to go. I would like to honour Aunt Helena with my presence and get to meet my cousins and their families. But I’m not sure I can spare the time or funds to make the trip. If I drive it would take just about 2 full days. If I took a Greyhound bus I might get there in about 24 hours. At this point, I’m leaving it up to the Lord, to work out the details – if it is to be.
In the meantime, I’m making some efforts to let relatives in the extended clan know, because the Martens cousins don’t seem to have the connections that their mother had.
Oh, about Uncle Henry Martens, who was the oldest in a family of about 12 children, and was a heavy machine operator and trucker for many years… he is in a nursing home just 2 blocks from Cindy’s and she told me that Brenda had taken their Mom to see him one day. Their parents had held hands for about half an hour, sensing that they should know each other, but didn’t seem to remember each other’s names.
To translate one of my Gra’ma’s favourite quotes in her latter years, “Age does not come comfortably.” So true. So True!