Helen Foster Rawson Kirshman was born July 30, 1909, the first of five children: sisters, Ruth, Jean, Margaret and the baby brother, James. Helen was a true mother’s helper and was, along with Ruth, the primary caregiver for Jean, Margaret, and James during those years when her mother’s health was poor.

A fascinating fact, at least to me, is that Helen did not start school until her sister, Ruth, did. Ruth was eighteen months her junior. They started school together in St. Helens, OR and remained classmates until graduation from Lincoln High School in Portland, OR.

Helen and my cousin

My aunt Helen moved to Southern California and married. She and her husband had a daughter who is more than a cousin – but is also a friend.

When Helen celebrated her 100th birthday, it was a grand affair with her daughter, grand daughter, friends, nieces and nephews, and her surviving sister, Margaret, joining her. I promised myself that I would come back each year for the birthday weekend celebration (my cousin’s birthday was in early August so these became joint celebrations at one point).

This year I will travel to Southern California to join a Celebration of 105 Years of Life instead of a 105th birthday party. Helen joined her sisters and other family on April 2, 2014.

She taught me the value of acceptance of those things we cannot change – although I will admit I still struggle with that one. She maintained as much independence as possible until the end when she still puttered around her bedroom and the kitchen even though she had to have caregivers because of her risk of falling. She read Reader’s Digest books and showed interest in the world around her to the end. And, she encouraged my writing endeavors and looked forward to reading my stories. I do hope Heaven has a great library!

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