“Some people come into our lives … Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts.…” Anonymous
It was such a delight to have lunch with our dear friend and former Resident Helen Fiedor a few weeks ago! It was special because Helen now lives at St. Anne’s Home in San Francisco.
While at St. Mary’s Home, Helen was beloved by everyone, staff, Residents and Sisters. Her spirit was always bright and she never wanted for something to talk about. I remember Helen’s admission to our home vividly, her personality is unforgettable but to me as a new mother, so was her story. Helen was born in Berwyn, Illinois but grew up in Chicago. She married her husband Matt in 1964 and they had one son John. Matt died in 1969, one month after John turned two. Helen was very open about what it was like to raise a child as a single parent and noted that it shaped how she lived her life. When Helen moved here, I had recently returned from my second maternity leave—the way she talked about her son and the affection she had for him even as he grew in to adulthood was an inspiration to me.
Her devotion to her son is what eventually led Helen to relocate from St. Mary’s Home in Chicago to St. Anne’s Home in California. It was a challenge for us to “lose” Helen because she was such a wonderful addition to our community and a “real Chicagoan”—but we were all confident that both she and her son would profit from being closer to one another.
We even joked that she left St. Mary’s Home, where her social worker was named Ann to move to St. Anne’s Home where her social worker was named Mary. And I enjoyed the opportunity to work with my counterpart on the West Coast.
So on August 17th, I brought my three children to have lunch with Helen and her son John and his wife Sonoe. Aside from a newer walker and hearing aids, she hadn’t changed a bit. She was as expressive and energetic as ever! We were curious about the differences between the homes and Helen explained that, “It doesn’t matter what state you are in, or what country, when you live with the Little Sisters, you get the best care there is.”
So few people who leave us go anywhere but Heaven, so I have to say that I struggled when Helen left—worrying for her the way a mom worries for her child on the first day at a new school – I shouldn’t have, the care and love she is getting at St. Anne’s Home is wonderful—you can tell just by looking at her and the fact that she can now see her “baby” every week makes me feel all the more reassured.
Top photo: Together again! Ann and Helen are all smiles at their reunion.
Bottom photo: Helen, John, and Sonoe enjoy the wonderful changes to the St. Mary’s Home garden.