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» Hatrack River Forum » Archives » Landmark Threads » In Memoriam: Eva Marie (Sasse) Helmbock, 1928-2003

Author Topic: In Memoriam: Eva Marie (Sasse) Helmbock, 1928-2003
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Greetings, Hatrack.

This is the thread in memorial to my mother, recently deceased. I am doing better than expected, as my husband and I continue to employ all the traditional means of dealing with grief and sorrow, to great success. [Smile] Tom and Christy are also looking after me, so you can be assured that I am surrounded by support. (Thanks for this, you two.)

I wanted to come to some private closure on this event, and what follows seems very fitting to me. Here I have included the mourning rites which we gave here, and I believe my brother and I were able to negotiate the details to respect at least the spirit of her request for a quiet, dignified service.

There was a true Speaking after all. Her baby sister, the “crazy nun from California,” really could not have been contained. We were afraid that without the structure of a scheduled eulogy, she might erupt from the pew in an irrepressible speaking in tongues. As well, I was concerned that my mother would not seem buried to her, would leave a great hole in her life, if she was not allowed to do justice to her sister in her own way.

It is a good Speaking.

Though you might just scan through the rest, please read through the post that follows to learn about my mother. Over this next week I will be doing my own Speaking in private, through emails to those of you who were most close in my mind and heart during this last week. However, rest assured that all of Hatrack was with me: in the times when I felt I would falter, I thought of you all, and this bore me up and carried me through. I thank you.

I have also included the Decades of the Rosary from the wake service before the funeral, and those of you who are practicing Catholics would do me and my mother great honor by saying the rosary for her. I have followed this with the readings from the funeral mass, which were carefully selected for the occasion. They may be meaningful to those of you who come from the Christian tradition, but they also are beautiful examples of prose poetry, and as you will see, beautiful language was very important to my mother.

There is a request in the obituary for donations to the Sisters of St. Benedict in Ferdinand, Indiana, in lieu of flowers. Given that my mother’s primary concern was the health and safety of those she loved, may I suggest that you instead make a donation to the care of your own family (or yourself) instead. The following ideas came to mind:

- Children should be transitioned from a carseat to adult safety belts by use of an approved booster seat. This is believed to be the most effective intervention in reducing fatalities of young children in moving vehicle accidents available at this time. Additional information, including the specific recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, can be found at http://www.response.com/tips_tools/car_safety/car_seat.asp .

- All living spaces should be equipped with smoke detector, but we sometimes forget to ensure access to a suitable fire extinguisher. Please make sure you are covered with both. Your local fire department will likely assess your home for safety free of charge. Also, do not forget to keep an appropriate fire extinguisher in the trunk of your car.

- A carbon monoxide detector is also a good investment, especially for families who use natural gas and/or a fireplace.

- Free electrical outlet covers are usually available (or accessible) through any local pediatrician’s office.

- And the following can be done at no expense:
- Make sure that pot handles are turned inward on the stove and that back burners are used first. Every year there are many children scarred for life by cooking accidents which might be easily prevented.

- Keep some sort of inflammable powder near the stove and easily accessible, to diminish the temptaion of using water on a grease fire. Baking soda and flour are possibilities, but a cup of dirt from the yard tucked into the corner of a cabinet could also be used.

- Know where your matches are, and keep them out of reach of children.

By the way, should you have difficulty in affording any of the above, there are local and federal funds available for assistance, as well as other avenues to explore. Please email me at ct_therese@yahoo.com for details.

For those of you who are musically inclined, I ask that you listen to Elvis Costello’s cover of the Charles Aznavour classic, “She”. It has remindedly me vividly of my mother since the very first time I heard it.

And finally, my given name is actually Sara, and this is how you will see me acknowledged in the following posts.


Claudia Therese

[ July 18, 2003, 08:50 PM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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Sister Joan Marie Sasse
Order of St. Benedict
July 15, 2003

Marie did not want me to do this.

I asked her during the last week of her life about speaking her eulogy. She replied, “Only if you must, but you can at least wait out a month of mourning first.” I cannot. In one month, on August 15, 2003, we celebrate the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in celebration of the ascension of the Mother of Christ into heaven. I ask you to remember Marie on that day, and so at least I will carry a little less guilt.

Marie was one of the most certainly unique individuals I have ever known. She was my big sister, and she always marched to the beat of a different drum. Her viewpoint on life reflected that uniqueness. Marie was a person who processed life through her emotions. Often I felt that she had a bottomless emotional reservoir. She was either on cloud nine or struggling with depression. Her cloud nine days were my favorites. She had the ability to look beyond life and see things that I never noticed.

I remember one day she was peeling apples to make a pie for my father. I’d brought her a basket of regular apples, the usual sort that you would find in any supermarket. She went into ecstasy over the shape and design of this particular apple. She held it up to the light, turning it about in her hands, and marveled at the shades of color and the curve of its skin.

We never got the pie.

Her cooking was put on hold and she spent hours carving faces on these apples – which she later dried and made into unique heads. Each of these heads had to be slowly shaped and turned daily as they dried and darkened. She used fine, delicate tools such as scalpels to gently shape the intricate details. Over the period of weeks, I watched each one gather shape. Each head was a masterpiece. I wanted to name them. That fascinated me.

All I ever did with apples was to eat them.

Marie also loved theater. It was there that she met her husband Kenny. They shared a love for the stage. Shakespeare was among both of their favorites. When Sara and Eric were babies, they had Shakespeare read to them instead of Mother Goose. Marie said she wanted “those precious little minds” to be exposed to the best combination of words in the English language – and to her mind, that was Shakespeare and not Mother Goose.

Marie was a nurse and she was happiest when she was caring for the sick. She was compassionate, sympathetic, and understanding. She also believed it to be her personal responsibility to diagnose as well as care for her patients. She read and reread all of their charts until she had them memorized. She knew all the medications her patients took, their indications and counterindications, their side effects, and all of the ways they could interact with one another. If something did not seem right to her, she never hesitated to question the doctor.

This need to be in control of the medical aspect of her patients was a great burden in her own illness. It was not easy for her to turn her own healthcare over to another. Those of you who cared for her were constantly being challenged.

May you be blessed twice for your patience.

Marie lived life in the intense lane. Ordinary events seldom existed for her. Most events were injected with great emotion. Goodbyes were at the top of her list.

Each time I came home from California, she would cry tears that were mingled with joy and sorrow. With each hello, she would tell me it was already causing her pain to know that I would be leaving again. My suitcase would be still be packed in the trunk of the car, and she was already struggling with my departure.

Saying goodbye was definitely one of her biggest challenges. I believe it was this fear of telling her family and friends goodbye that gave her the strength to endure so much pain and suffering these past few years. She would never give in to her pain – she constantly pushed herself to the limit.

One day my sister Theresa told her it would not be so bad when she died. She would see Mom, Dad, Dorothy, Joe, Kenny, and all her other relatives and friends.

She glared at Theresa and said, “I have all eternity to visit with them. I am not yet ready to say goodbye to those I have here.”

When I was fourteen years old, my mother died. Marie, like all my sisters, was wonderful in filling that gap. Each one of them, in her own way, took time to listen to my problems and give me advice when needed. But Marie was still living at home. She did not marry until after I was out of college. That meant I got advice from her on a regular basis. One thing she told me over and over was never to avoid the difficult tasks, because sooner or later they had to be done. She also said that once you did them, you would probably find that they were really not that hard in the first place.

As stated earlier, saying goodbye was one of her most difficult tasks.

The time came on Sunday morning when she had to face that moment.
I am sure it was not really as difficult as she feared.
I am sure that her reunion with all her loved ones must have been, and continues to be, fabulous.

But I am also sure that her love and concern and connection with us will never cease – because Marie never did learn how to say goodbye to those she loves.

[ July 18, 2003, 08:52 PM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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The Decades of the Rosary (Wake Service)

The First Joyful Mystery: THE ANNUNCIATION

Mary accepts the invitation from God to bring a child into the world. In 1927, Lillian and Theodore Sasse also accepted the invitation from God to bring a child into the world. On May 17th, 1928, Eva Marie, their third daughter, was born.

Let us offer this decade of the rosary for Lillian and Theodore in gratitude for giving us life.

The Second Joyful Mystery: THE VISITATION

Once Mary realized she was carrying Christ within, she reached out to be of service to her cousin Elizabeth. All of us are called to be of service to humanity. Marie chose to serve others primarily through the nursing profession. For years she worked with Dr. Rogers in Newburgh. Later she served at St Mary’s Hospital and the Regina Home.

We offer this decade of the rosary for her late husband Kenneth and her two stepchildren, Sally and Butch. May they never hesitate to be of service to others.

The Third Joyful Mystery: THE BIRTH OF OUR LORD

Giving birth is one of the most precious moments in the life of any parent. Needless to say, Marie and Kenny were delighted at the birth of their two children, Sara and Eric. What a blessing they were and continue to be.

We offer this decade of the rosary for Sara and Eric. May they always realize how loved they are.


Mary and Joseph were responsible parents and took Jesus to the Temple as the law prescribed. Marie too felt a great responsibility for her family and those entrusted to her care. Being part of a large family and having siblings with very different personalities has a way of helping one prepare to meet the world.

We offer this decade of the rosary for Marie’s eight sisters and two brothers. May they continue to support one another and remain close as a family.

The Fifth Joyful Mystery: THE FINDING IN THE TEMPLE

Jesus was out of sight for a while and Mary and Joseph searched diligently for him. Marie too has spent her life in anticipation of one day meeting Christ in person. That moment has arrived.

Let us offer this decade of the rosary for all her friends and co-workers over the years. May they never cease to look for Christ in every person they meet and situation they are in.

[ July 18, 2003, 08:44 PM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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The Mass

First Reading

A reading from the book of Wisdom 3:1-9

The souls of the just are in the hand of God,
And no torment shall touch them.
They seem, in the view of the foolish, to be dead:
And their passing away was thought an affliction
And their going forth from us, utter destruction.
But they are at peace.
For if before others, indeed, they be punished,
They need not fear God.
Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
Because God tried them
And found them worthy of eternal happiness.
As gold in the furnace, God proved them,
And as sacrificial offerings God took them to Himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
And shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
They shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
And the Lord shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in God shall understand truth,
And the faithful shall abide with God in love;
Because grace and mercy are with God’s holy ones,
His care is with His elect.

This is the word of the Lord.

Responsorial Psalm

Response: Though I walk in the valley of darkness, I fear no evil, for You are with me.

The Lord is my Shepard: I shall not want;
In verdant pastures He gives me repose,
Beside restful waters He leads me,
He refreshes my soul.


He guides me in right paths
For His name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil: for You are at my side
With Your rod and Your staff that give me courage.


You spread the table before me
In the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil
My cup overflows.


Only goodness and kindness follow me
All the days of my life:
And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
For all the years to come.


Second Reading (Rom 6:3-4, 8-9)

A reading from the letter of Paul to the Romans

Are you not aware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Through baptism into his death we were buried with him, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live a new life. If we have died with Christ, we believe that we are also to live with him. We know that Christ, once raised from the dead, will never die again; death has no more power over him.

This is the word of the Lord.

Alleluia: I am the resurrection and the life, said the Lord: anyone who believes in me will not die forever. Alleluia.

[ July 18, 2003, 08:45 PM: Message edited by: ClaudiaTherese ]

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Oh Darling, I hope you're doing okay. Your mother sounds like a special person, but I knew that already, because I know you.

All my love and prayers are going out to you.

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The Eulogy made me cry. I can say nothing but good luck, and I'm sorry.
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Sara/Claudia Therese, you don't know me, but I wanted to wish you my condolences.

I have always adored that song; reading through the lyrics this time, and knowing they reflected your thoughts about your mother, brought me to tears. The eulogy made me cry again.

Clearly your mother was a very special person. Clearly you are one also.

May you find comfort in your grief.

(((good wishes)))

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::hugs CT::



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Nothing can really convey the haunting chant of the Benedictine monks of my college. However, they are my friends and I have seen two of them pass. These are the lines chanted for them:

May the Angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs greet you at your arrival and lead you into the holy city, Jerusalem.

May the choir of Angels greet you and like Lazarus, who once was a poor man, may you have eternal rest.

Anyway. [Frown]


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You have my sympathy and my prayers, for your mother, for you, and for your family.

One line that always sticks in my head from my denomination's funeral services is part of a prayer for all those left behind -- "keep true in us the love in which we hold one another." I know that many people are holding you in love right now, in "real life" and on Hatrack. May it continue to be a comfort and strength to you.

[ July 19, 2003, 12:03 AM: Message edited by: dkw ]

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That was beautiful.
I am sorry for your loss and so thankful that you've allowed me to share the gift that was your mother's life.

From what I know of your caring, giving, passion and humor she must have been so proud to have raised such a wonderful daughter.

Again- Thank you for sharing.

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Thank you so much, everyone. dkw and mackillian, your words helped immensely. I will repeat them in my mind as needed. [Smile]

Belle, Ryuko, rivka, kwsni, LadyDove, and of course mack and dkw: my mother would have adored all of you. Knowing such strong, beautiful women makes the loss of her easier to bear.

(Okay, that's it -- I thought I was done crying. [Frown] / [Smile] I'm not going to look at this thread again for some time. But thanks again for keeping me close in your hearts, and I will be sending out many emails in the next week.

No really, seriously. I will. [Wink] [/oldtimer joke])

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And found them worthy of eternal happiness.
As gold in the furnace, God proved them,
And as sacrificial offerings God took them to Himself.


Thank you for your kind comments last night,Sara.
Also look in one line descriptions thread.
With a stranger's love and kind regards,
Morbo [Frown] Post 1002

(last line lifted from a British email I saw recently)

[ July 19, 2003, 10:13 AM: Message edited by: Morbo ]

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T. Analog Kid
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I will pray a Rosary with the decades for the intentions above.


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Oh CT. *hug* Take care, dearest.
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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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dear, you have friends who care deeply for you. The eulogy was beautiful, and I was unexpectedly moved by the decades of the rosary. She sounds like a woman who understood the beauty and the sorrow on earth in the everyday lives of her and her loved ones.

[ July 19, 2003, 11:23 AM: Message edited by: Irami Osei-Frimpong ]

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Dear Sara, please accept my love and sympathy for your loss. I knew your mother only through you, her daughter, yet your character and your kindness are the greatest testament to her, and anyone who knows you must know also that her life was well spent.

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls." (Matt. 11:28-29)

Be glad, for your mother has laid down her earthly burdens and now may rest.


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Papa Moose
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<Wipes tears.> CT, anything I could say will fall short of what I feel, so I'll just say this. In many ways, she reminds me of you. And as far as I'm concerned, that's one of the nicest things I know how to say about anyone. *Hugs and Prayers*


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That was a beautiful eulogy. From it I can feel what a special person she was...It was very moving...

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Oh, God...
((((Claudia Therese))))
We don't know each other but I will pray for your mother and you and your family.
I'm not exactly Catholic, but close enough to say the prayers you want to be said.
*hugs again*
I know it's difficult, but there will be brighter days.

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What you shared with us was very inspirational for me on several levels. I am very proud of you for being able to have the courage to share your private moment with us.

I too was raised in a very Catholic family and my aunt is a Nun of the Benedictine Order of St. Mary's, PA. Reading through the eulogy was reminiscent of my grandmother's passing and how our family coped with that loss, including the saying of the rosary at the wake and additionally at mass.

I do not pretend to imagine how you feel or how you manage, as I have not lost a parent. But again, I am proud of your strength and deeply touched by all the words you say.

To steel myself, I will without a doubt, remember your words here if I ever have the need to cope with a loss such as this. For that, I thank you and can only say from deep within, that I am so sorry and hope that you find a peace in your life soon.


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What a beautiful eulogy. *also wipes tears*

Although I was not there to bear the specifics, my spirit has been with you. My door is always open. I will try my best to ease your grief and be here for you.

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I can only say that I'm honored that you shared this with us. I didn't know your mother except through you, but I have a mother, I am a mother, and I deeply sympathize with what you have lost. Please call me if you need to talk. [Frown]


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I will, Olivia, as I appear to be dealing with stress in a variety of strange ways. I think your ear would be a good one to bend. (*will call tonight.)
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Thank you for sharing...
*will pray the rosery tonight for your mother*

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Sara/ClaudiaTherese -

I am sorry for your loss and grateful to you for sharing everything on this thread. I have not had to go through the loss of either of my parents yet, but I hope that when I do, it's something I will face with grace and strength - as you have.


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Oh, Claudia,
I lost my Mother several years ago and the thought still brings tears to my eyes. I know the void you have. I will think of you and pray that you will remember to breathe.

I am so sorry that you are going through this, I empathize with you. I know there is nothing that can make it better, but there should be.

You seem to be much like your mother, taking care of all of us here. I remember last January how loving and compassionate you were when we met. Your mother did a good job, continue her legacy.

"Lots of hugs"


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The eulogy was beautiful; it brought tears to my eyes. Dealing with loss, especially of those we hold dear, is one of the hardest things in life. The people that touch our lives leave a bit of themselves in us, in our souls, and that lasts, though they may no longer be with us in a tangible way, and though loss can make us feel alone and confused, they remain with us in our hearts.

I'm truly sorry for your loss. If there's anything I can do for you, please let me know.

-Mike (saxon75)

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(((((((Claudia Therese)))))))
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Sara, I am so sorry for your loss. My best friend is Catholic and I asked her to say the rosary for your mother.

I have come very close to losing my mother - she has been very ill for years. Every time the phone rings, there's a part of me that braces myself for the worst. Every second of every day, I'm afraid. I've learned to live with it, like everyone else with sick mothers, but it's still always there. Reading your post made me less afraid, for some reason. Seeing your strength and love shine through your grief gives me strength. Thank you.

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Sara, after reading the Euolgy I'm sitting at work trying not to cry. I have no words to say how sorry I am for your loss and how much sympathy I have for you now.


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::hugs CT::
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