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Off to Sacramento with heavy heart and sandwich

Dear Shirley, Usually, when we meet it is for a happy occasion - shopping, playing Upwords or going out to lunch. It will be different this weekend when we meet in Sacramento for the memorial services for our sister, Helen. It still doesn't seem ...

Dear Shirley,

Usually, when we meet it is for a happy occasion - shopping, playing Upwords or going out to lunch.

It will be different this weekend when we meet in Sacramento for the memorial services for our sister, Helen. It still doesn't seem real to me that we now are the only ones in our family still living. We were always "the little girls." We depended on Harley, Walter and Helen to lead the way. And now, they all are gone. It's a sad and eerie feeling.

Tears welled in my eyes when our niece, Kris, called Saturday night and said, "Mama has gone to be with Jesus." We knew that Helen was seriously ill. We knew the doctors said they could do no more. Still, we could never be ready for that final word.

All of us who gather in Sacramento on Saturday will have our own memories of Helen Hansen Jensen. Her children and grandchildren remember her in their own ways. As her sisters, we go way back. We go back to the days when Helen was thrust into roles usually taken by older people because our parents died so young. She was the one who churned the butter, cut up the chickens and made the big kettles of soup. She was off to business college and home working as a legal stenographer before we were out of high school.

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Helen was smart. She always got good grades in school. She was the quiet one who stayed in the background and listened. Most of the time, she was pretty agreeable, but she could do a slow burn and blow a gasket now and then. She loved getting together with friends and relatives. And, she doted on her grandchildren. I'll bet she held the world record for baking Snickerdoodle cookies.

Yep, Shirley, our sister had a good, long life. After all, she was 85. She was the widow of Carl Christian Jensen. She was a legal aide for the state of California. She was a loyal member of Grace Lutheran Church in Rancho Cordova, Calif. I always was proud to be her sister.

I think I spent four or five hours on the telephone this week arranging a flight to Sacramento and finding a room. I know you were figuring things from Tucson, too. You must have plenty of airline choices out there. We often gripe about Northwest Airlines, but I feel indebted to them because their people were so helpful. When I told them it was a bereavement flight, they gave me a lower rate. All I had to do is give them the information including the name of the funeral home in charge of arrangements.

You find out at times like this that most people are sympathetic and want to be helpful.

Love from your sister, Marilyn, looking over an old photograph album with pictures of five Hansen kids in Pierre, S.D.

P.S.: Remember how Helen used to listen to that scary radio show late at night? I think it was "The Inner Sanctum." And she never missed "One Man's Family." She always cut up carrots when she fixed a big dinner for the relatives. And Walter would refer to such an event as a "buttered carrot banquet."

P.P.S.: I always take an egg salad sandwich with me when I fly. It beats airline food.

Reach Hagerty at mhagerty@gra.midco.net or (701) 772-1055.

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