Sunday, January 12, 2014

My Mom's Best Friend Died

My mom and Helen were best friends from the time they were 6.  They lived around the corner from each other in Niagara Fall, NY until my mother moved away in her 20s.  Mom moved around a bit, living in New York, then Germany and then New York again.  Finally in 1950, she moved to Los Angeles where she resided (still moving around a lot) until she came to live with me in 1983.  She lived in Nevada until her death in 1998.  Helen moved to Niagara Falls as a child and lived on Niagara Avenue until she died at 94 years old.  Mom married, had two kids, divorced and never remarried.  Helen never married and didn't have children. Mom loved to travel, Helen didn't drive and, as far as I know never traveled much.

They saw each other rarely after 1950 but they wrote lots of letters and they spoke on the phone as often as possible; phone calls were expensive in those days.  I can remember listening to Mom and Helen talking on the phone from the time when I was a young girl.  They laughed a lot and those phone calls always made Mom happy.  Mom got to NY a few times during the years before she stopped flying and I'd guess she actually got to visit with Helen about 4 or 5 times after moving to California.

Everything I know about Helen, I know from Mom's stories about their friendship.  No matter where Mom lived and no matter how life events changed them, Mom and Helen considered each other best friends.  I met Helen once, maybe twice.  I did talk to her a few times on the phone after Mom developed Alzheimer's and had to move to a care facility.  Mom forgot a lot about her own life in her last 3 years of life but she never forgot Helen.  One day, about 6 months before she died, I brought her to my house and I called Helen and then put Mom on the phone.  The two of them chatted for some time.  Later Helen told me she thought Mom sounded great, just like her old self with only a few memory lapses.  I just remember hearing Mom laugh like her old self for the first time in years.  I cherish that memory.

The last time I talked to Helen was the day Mom died in September, 1998.  She was so kind and told me how much she cared for my mom, how smart my mom was and what a good friend she was.  From then on, Helen sent me a Christmas card every year, usually with a kind comment telling me how she missed my mom and how proud mom would be of me and Debra.

A few days ago, I suddenly realized I didn't get a card from Helen this past Christmas. Of course she could have just decided not to send cards but a quick google search revealed to me that Helen died last May.  I will miss Helen's cards and I will be imagining those two best friends having a lovely reunion.

1 comment:

JohnnyB said...

We visited Helen when we took mom' sashes to be buried in Niagra Falls. She was indeed a very nice and gracious woman. As she did with you, she told us stories about how great a friend and what a smart and funny person Mom was