The JOY of Helen


“Happiness is temporary, Joy is eternal.”

          I can’t exactly remember who said this but when I heard it, it changed the way I saw JOY. If JOY is eternal that means it can only come from God who is eternal. The one person in my life who has constant JOY, no mater the situation, is my grandmother, or as I usually call her, “my Helen.” Helen has had mild Alzheimer’s for the past five or six years. What started as not being able to remember what she had for lunch has progressed to not being able to recall what she did the entire day. She remembers she had lunch and probably played bingo or dominos with her friends, but not specifics. If you call her at the end of the day and ask her what she did, she would more than likely respond, “I can’t remember, but I know it was good!”

Now that you know a little about Helen let me share with you how she fills my life with JOY. Everything that I do with or for Helen is lived during the moment. Since she usually forgets what she does, it is all about bringing her JOY right then and there even if she won’t remember it ten minutes after you leave. My favorite memories of this summer have been the times spent with my grandma. Where she lives has Mass every other Wednesday and I love to go with her. Both times I have gone I have called her before heading over. Even though I called before I left, her face would light up when she saw me walk into the chapel as if I was surprising her. Helen would give me such a big hug and would tell me she was so happy I decided to come.

Whether it’s going to Mass, playing dominos, or just sitting and listing to her stories, my Helen brings me so much JOY. My grandma teaches me that JOY is eternal even if it is quickly forgotten after I leave. She definitely brings me JOY in a way no other person does. Helen also teaches me that true JOY is a gift of self. It doesn’t matter if she remembers my visits. No matter when I see my grandma we always say goodbye the same way. I’ll tell her I love you and she quickly responds, without hesitation, “I love you more!” I walk away thankful for her and the eternal JOY she brings into my life.



2 thoughts on “The JOY of Helen

  1. Rosina brinkman says:

    It’s 3:10 am on Easter Sunday, April 16. Helen is nearing the end of her JOYFUL life. Thank you Eileen for loving HELEN well. She is our JOY!


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