My Sister Helen

When I was five years old, I had rheumatic fever and had to stay home from school all winter.

During that time Helen was practicing for her final vocal exam. Every day I heard her sing exercises – ming ming ming ming ming ming ming ming ming ming ming ming ming. Then she would sing Mozart’s “Alleluia”.

When her recital date came in spring, I was well enough to go with our mother and father to Winnipeg for this event. I was told she would get a prize. Imagine my disappointment when it turned out to be just a piece of paper – her graduation certificate – when it could have been a BB Bat from the grocery store in Winkler.

I was the ring bearer in her wedding party. John had built an arbour arch under which he and Helen stood during the wedding ceremony.

The aria “I know that my Redeemer Liveth”, is from Handel’s “Messiah”. In the original composition, there is a French Horn accompaniment. In a performance at the time she was a voice teacher at Mennonite Brethren Bible College, I accompanied her on the French Horn as she stood in front of the orchestra. I was proud of my sister that day.

The Covid-19 pandemic is raging right now in May of 2020. Unfortunately, in this crisis, Helen at age 98 fell ill. In her last days she was allowed visitors just one at a time, so her children and grandchildren lined up to say their last goodbyes, hoping she would be awake. If she was, she recognized them with her winning smile.

The strongest bond between Helen and me was music. When she and her family lived in California, I would visit the Froese household. Helen would insist on singing a few hymns, she at the piano, her children and I standing behind.

I love music, and owe my appreciation to Helen because of that winter I lay in bed listening to her sing – ming, ming, ming.

Helen loved me and many others, especially her children and their spouses, her 9 grandchildren and her 19 great grandchildren.

An era has ended, and I am forced to wave goodbye from a distant stance. We will see her again, perchance.

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