Sunday, August 19, 2007

Hansoo drove my lovely Mom--Demetra and I to Savannah on Friday..But it wasn't to see the lighthouse on Tybee Island that I long to visit, or to walk the boardwalk at the Riverfront with my dear Theya Helen...

My beloved Theya Helen, has passed...A supremely liberal, outspoken Democrat with little patience for George W. Bush's Administration-- what she called "the most corrupt government I've seen in my 80-odd years on earth...".
A volunteer with Savannah's symphony for years, and a published poet, too!
She was a great inspiration, and a theatre-loving, kind soul who revered her Greek Orthodox Church, even if she occasionally disagreed with the dogma....She passed in her sleep, due to congestive heart failure...

I am bearing up, but this is really, really hard, because I felt so very very close to her....
I spoke to Theya Helen on the phone, several times a week, for YEARS...It is only in the past few months that she was unable to speak frequently.And because she was becoming rather weak, there could be no more of our infamous "Marathon" calls(sometimes lasting an hour or two!), where I would ask questions about her travels(she lived in many different countries as a young wife and mother of four);celebrities(she dated Chuck Norris for a while;she met Marilyn Monroe on a New York City street);poetry("Keep writing Lisa.";"Your friend Collin Kelley's Better To Travel is terrific.") life("Do live your life the way you want to-- I have-- and I have few regrets.");death("I'm not afraid of death, it's part of the cycle of life.I truly believe I will be reunited with those I love, in the afterlife.This is just the beginning, Lisa."

The funeral was remarkable in that the old Greek priest knew Helen quite well, and he kept referring to the words in the Greek Orthodox funeral language which talks about "the heart", as a theme...He then spoke eloquently about Helen's own generous heart.
The down-y hairs on the back of my neck stood up, because only moments before, on the ride down to Savannah, I had written two Haiku for Theya Helen, and I surprised myself with the ending of the final one, as the entire Haiku came out exactly as it should, in the first writing of it, without revision(VERY rare in writing!).
Here they are:

Theya Helen, a
A Grand Aunt so very Greek so
Warm, Funny, Mine.

Eighty-two years of
Life lived large. Important,
for so large a heart.

Graveside, I read the Haikus, and then Tenessee Williams'"Heavenly Grass"(which I had read to Theya Helen on the phone one day, weeks ago--she loved "Heavenly Grass").

Here's to you, Theya Helen...
Keep the angels entertained, dear. I know you are.


Collin said...

So sorry to hear about Theya's passing. She sounds like an amazing person to have had in your life.

Lisa Allender said...

I was very honored to know her, Coll...
one more cute story about Theya:
You know the lady at the end of the film, "Forest Gump", who is sitting on the bench, speaking to Tom Hank's Forest Gump?
No, that's not her, BUT:
Nearly 100 "old ladies" as Theya Helen put it, auditioned for that role... It was down to the final two--Theya Helen, and the lady who eventually was selected.Tom Hanks asked my Theya "So, Helen, how old are you?" Theya Helen quickly answered,"Somewhere between 65 and dead..."He laughed and told her he wanted her to get selected. However, the director chose the other lady.
No matter, as Theya Helen said, "It was such a thrill to get that close!"...

Dustin said...

Lisa, My thoughts are with your family!