HELEN HELMERPosted: August 29th, 2012
Eulogy by Marlene Packard, daughter of Helen “a beautiful woman.”
Good afternoon. I am Marlene Packard, daughter of Helen Helmer (I am wearing red and high heels in honour of my Mom today). My Mom’s favorite theme was “be happy and believe” and today we have come together to celebrate that theme in honour of my Mom who was so full of compassion, love, faith, and a zeal for life. Thank you so much each one of you for being here.
Helen Helmer went to Heaven at the age of 95. We celebrated her 95th birthday at a party in May. Helen was the beloved wife of the late Emanuel Helmer. She leaves to cherish her memory two children Bob (Betty) Helmer of Medicine Hat and Marlene (Garry) Packard of Maple Creek; five grandchildren Sherry (Jim) Bakanec, Shelly (Randy) Brost, Shawna (Jason) Hilgendorf, Lisa (Shawn) Brade, Tyler (Jamie) Packard; 13 great grandchildren Alisha (Billy) Starner, Evan, Adaya, Gregory, Flower, Brody, Adam, Lukus, Gracie, Jude, Noah, Cruz and Benz; and one great-great grandson, Azrael; two sisters Maggie Winkler and Alice Eichorst, as well as many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. She was predeceased by her mother in (1938), her father in (1960), three brothers and two sisters.
Helen Huber was born May 21, 1917 to August and Maria Huber in Golden Prairie. Helen and her family worked hard and played hard. Helen helped with the farming, driving horses, working in the field at harvest time, helping with the stooking, stacking, picking rocks and milking cows. The family lived beside a big lake and loved to swim together in summer and made a big tank into a boat to further their fun. They also loved to skate and sled on the lake in winter.
Helen sewed clothes and dresses for the family and neighbours and cut hair for relatives and friends. Helen’s Dad played the violin and Helen played the accordion and each of her siblings played instruments and sang together as a family every evening after dinner. They played hard, worked hard and worshiped together at the Golden Prairie Baptist Church. Helen was a member of the choir and sang for the Lord for many years. In June 1936 Helen was baptized in a lake near Golden Prairie. Helen was a member of the Golden Prairie Ladies Aide.
Helen’s wedding took place in the family home, and not wanting to spoil her daughter’s wedding her mother did not let on how sick she was and died of a ruptured appendix the night of the wedding. Helen’s baby sister, Alice, only five at the time became her “pride and joy.”
Helen married Emanuel Helmer in 1938 and they farmed in Golden Prairie for 36 years, raising their children Bobby and Marlene. When Bobby was born, the doctor advised not having any more children as the delivery had been difficult. But years later, longing to have a baby girl, Helen got out her maternity smock and stuffed a pillow and teased Emanuel and then prayed to God to let it be a girl and when I was born and the doctor said, “It’s a girl,” she said, “Thank you” to God, but the doctor thought she was thanking him and said, “Don’t thank me, I didn’t have anything to do with it.”
Helen grew a huge garden and Betty recalls how even if you showed up unannounced she could butcher a chicken, pluck it, fry it and get new potatoes, peas and lettuce from the garden and have a beautiful dinner prepared and make it seem effortless and then offer a jolly, “come, let’s eat.” She loved to go saskatoon and chokecherry picking and have huge picnics and family gatherings.
Helen and Emanuel sold the family farm in 1974 and moved to Maple Creek. They attended the Salvation Army Church and Helen worked at Cypress Lodge for six and a half years. Helen loved to do crafts, quilt making, knitting, crocheting, needlework, sewing, canning, singing, playing games and pranks and jokes.
She loved to get dressed up for Halloween and keep her identity a secret. She loved horseback riding in her younger days and used to race the boys to school. Sherry and Adaya and later Lisa, Gracie, Jude and Noah were all privileged to take her to Cypress Hills trail ride and go for a horseback ride when she was in her 90s! She loved exciting things and went white water rafting with her family in Whitefish, Montana when she was in her 80s. One summer day, I took her to the lake for a drive in my convertible to watch Tyler and his friends jet ski and she said, “I didn’t come to watch!” She rolled up her pant legs and asked Tyler to take her for a ride and away they went. Garry took her for a snowmobile ride and she also went to the top of Big Mountain in Whitefish with us on a gondola ride. She also encouraged me to bungee jump and even paid for my ticket.
When her beloved husband lost his lips and part of his face to cancer, she made him a mask out of a Javex bottle and painted it with flesh coloured nail polish and fed him with an eye dropper. One night, when Dad had removed both of his artificial legs for the night he fell off the bed on the floor and Mom phoned Garry and I in the night to come and help her. We drove over to their house quickly, imagining the worst, but they were sitting on the floor, side by side propped up against the bed, arm in arm and laughing. What a beautiful sight.
Helen was a kind and loving soul who would never complain and never had a bad thing to say about anyone. She was poor; but lived as if she was oh so rich. Her wealth was in her family and love and kindness. She died as the richest person I know.
She always had a ready word and an encouraging smile. Helen was compassionate, caring and loving and so much fun to be with. Lisa recalled how we took her to Vancouver once and how sweet it was to watch her roll up her pant legs and dip her feet in the ocean for the very first time.
A few weeks ago she became a great great grandma and Alisha and Billy, Sherry and Jim, Bob and Betty and baby Azrael came and had five generation pictures taken with Helen and she was filled with so much joy and pride!
Shelly said, “I want to be just like her” and recalls how she could always make something out of nothing and make the ordinary feel so exciting and even create something out of a piece of cardboard. Sherry remembers how she turned a rain barrel into a swimming pool and even up to five of us would go in at the same time. Garry says he misses her borscht soup as it was the best anyone could ever make.
Helen was faithful in loving and serving her God. She was quite hard of hearing, but would still go to church and to every function. She loved to walk downtown to the Bel Air for coffee with her friends each day and would always smile and be cheerful even when she couldn’t hear.
Her granddaughters recall how she would always have time for each one and would always let them help when she was cooking. She would never say, “Go set the table” or “Go sit down,” but would let them put their chubby hands right in the mixing bowl and always with an abundance of patience.
Tyler remembers when he worked at Sunny’s Auto Body and would go to Grandma’s for yummy lunches and a big hug. Sherry recalls how she freaked Bob out one time by standing behind a blanket and taking off all her clothes and he was getting embarrassed, when she actually had another set of clothes on underneath. Helen was so full of fun. Garry recalls driving her to church every Sunday morning. Jude recalls how they were visiting her in July and the nurse had brought her a protein drink and she didn’t want it and tried to get the kids to drink her milk shake and when they didn’t want to she called them a bunch of tight wads. One of my favorite memories when I was a child is how she loved to dress up in stiloutte heels that I longed to wear when I grew up.
We all know she touched the heart of God with her prayers for her children, she prayed over each one of her family and read her Bible faithfully and she truly is in Heaven with Jesus. She touched each one of our hearts and she will be deeply missed, but we are so thankful to God for giving her to us.
With baby Azrael being born in Bob’s family just a few weeks ago and baby Benz being born early the next morning after Mom passed away, we are impacted by the love of our Heavenly Father and the circle of life.
The funeral service was held at the Salvation Army in Maple Creek on Mon., Aug. 20, 2012 at 2 p.m. with Captain Ed Dean officiating. Interment took place at the Maple Creek Cemetery. Active pallbearers were Shawn Brade, Evan Bakanec, Gregory Mayer, Randy Brost, Tyler Packard, Alisha Bakanec. Honorary pallbearers were all those who shared in Helen’s life.
Friends who wish to may remember Mrs. Helmer with a gift to The Salvation Army memorial fund.
To email an expression of sympathy you may visit www.gonebutnotforgotten.ca.
Binkley’s Funeral Service, Maple Creek and Leader, in charge of arrangements. 306-662-2292