19 January, 2007

Thank You, Helen

Helene Villers, died Monday, Jan. 15, 2007, at Salemtowne, at the age of 104. She was born Nov. 21, 1902, in Tartu, Estonia. She married Alexander Villers, a shoe manufacturer, who fought in the Estonian Independence War of 1918 and also against the Soviets at the end of World War II. During World War II, Helene, her daughter, Vivian, and her sister, Gertrude escaped from Estonia. After the war, they immigrated to the U.S. and settled in Winston-Salem. Helene was a member of Augsburg Lutheran Church and participated in a church women's circle. She loved entertaining friends and family, cooking, and baking special Estonian dishes until well into her 90's. She spoke four languages-Estonian, Russian, German, and English-and enjoyed meeting visitors from abroad. She is survived by her grandson.

That's the obituary from the paper, there's more, much more... Helen was my friend; one of the kindest, strongest, most courageous ladies I have ever known. She will always be a role model for me, a portrait of faith, a survivor. Read back through the events of her life. She escaped Europe seeking freedom for herself and her family, not knowing if her husband was dead or alive, she never heard... and so, her heart knew. She established a new life, in a new land; she outlived her daughter. She took care of herself, in her own home, until she was over the age of 100. When I would visit she served the most elaborate, towering layer cakes, laden with fruit. And perogies, how she loved to make perogies. She faithfully fed the birds, AND the squirrels. She amazed me as long as she lived, she didn't wear glasses, not even to read the newspaper or the phonebook. I took my dog to visit her at the assisted living facility, shortly after she relocated there. She loved that; she fed him candy (!), she let him lick her face, and she clapped her hands and giggled like a small girl for the sheer enjoyment of it!

I attended her 104th birthday party in November. Now confined to a wheelchair, she smiled, raised her glass and drank champagne in a toast to herself, to her life! Helen knew it, Helen proved it...

Life is Good!

Thanks, for reminding meI will miss you.

9 comments:

Sheila said...

Sometimes those who have the most difficult beginnings are the ones who teach us best how to appreciate our freedoms and our lives. She sounds like a wonderful lady.

DubiQuilts - Debbi said...

Helen did live a full life and we can all learn from her. What a great friend you were to her!

Laurie Ann said...

Great tribute! Sounds like a fabulous life. I love perogies. Yumm...

Nancy said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I had a lady like this once . . . . It has been seven years and I still grieve.

teodo said...

I think you can have always a good remember of your friend Helen.ciao ciao

Ancestor Collector said...

My sympathies on the death of your friend, Helene. Your post is a tribute to her and to show that friendship knows no bounds, not age, not distance, not disablility. You are both blessed to have shared yourselves with each other.

dot said...

My sympathies to the loss of your dear friend. I just lost my MIL and I know the feeling of the loss. It was so strange, she passed on Sunday evening, Tuesday we had a snow storm, and I thought I should call her to see how she is doing. Sounds like your friend truely enjoyed life and lived it to the fullest. I only hope that I can live and enjoy that much.

Judy Scott said...

What a beautiful tribute from you to a dear friend ~ I love 'she let the dog lick her face and she clapped her hands and giggled like a small girl for the sheer enjoyment of it!'
Made me smile and cry ~ how wonderful for such simple things to bring happiness.

Thankyou for your thoughtful message too and I hope your happy memories will take you through the coming weeks and keep you smiling.
xxxJude xxx

Beemoosie said...

Thank you for sharing that!