Aunt Helen’s 100th Birthday

The Duncan Sisters: Barbara, Helen, & Harriet

My Aunt Helen was born 100 years ago today.  It’s a fine reason for a celebration!  She was a wonderful aunt, friend, sister and great role model.

Things to know about Aunt Helen:

She was always there when my mother (her younger sister) needed her. I learned to rely on her too. In the stressful times: when my sister died, when Aunt Barb died, when Dad started having trouble with macular degeneration and the beginning of dementia –

Helen appreciating the art in Martha’s Vineyard

Aunt Helen was there.  She knew how to listen. She would let us vent, would help with anything, make us laugh, talk old times, tell stories about her childhood, keep us going.

And she was there for so many of the good times.  She inherited the Duncan upbeat attitude that Mom also had.  So holidays and birthdays were celebrated with a lot of laughter.  She and Mom created one of the best times.  After they were widowed, they rented a beach house for a week.  They invited friends and family to gather.  All of Helen’s boys and their families came from far away as well as local family and friends.  It has become legend – the best family get-together ever!

Aunt Helen with Jean and Tom when we first moved to Lakeside.
Happy children, weren’t they!

She was there for the birth of all three of us – my sister and brother before me.

She was in the WAC in World War II.  And the best part of this for us is the photo of her riding a motorcycle.

She was my mother’s sister and married my father’s brother, John.  So her three sons are more like brothers to me than cousins.


She played cards (Go, Hand & Foot, Spite & Malice, solitaire and probably cribbage) with skill and humor – the necessary ingredients to a fun game.

Aunt Helen, Uncle George, & Mom in Lakeside.

After retiring, she took many Elderhostel trips.  Once a year she took one of her grandchildren with her to Hawaii or some other destination.  I’m guessing they have wonderful memories of her.

When Aunt Helen was around, we laughed a lot.  In one of those ‘you had to be there’ moments, she said she liked Jello – ”it was refreshing”.  Somehow from this we got the giggles and ‘refreshing’ became the code word to start the laughter.  As I said, you had to be there.

Helen and Harriet finding things to laugh about.

She died on the same day Dale Evans died in 2001 (that’s one of those quirky facts I tend to remember).  A week or two after her death, my mom told me “This would be a good year to die.”  Mom was in a painfully slow recovery from an aneurysm and had never been without her older sister.  She died six weeks after Helen.  This was the first time Helen wasn’t there when I needed her.

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5 Responses to Aunt Helen’s 100th Birthday

  1. What a lovely post and I love your Aunt she sounds wonderful and you have such wonderful memories….

  2. Cynthia says:

    Wonderful pictures, wonderful story, wonderful woman.

  3. Cynthia says:

    And, thank you for sharing her with us!

  4. Pingback: Sanderson & Oakland (Part 3) – Thomas’ Death | This I Leave

  5. EvaAnne says:

    What a wonderful tribute to your aunt! Without even knowing her, I can tell that she was quite a special woman and an important part of your family. I also had an aunt that was a good listener and could really bring our family together. Thank you for sharing this about her!

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