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Helen Densmore planned to celebrate Mother’s Day just like she had in other years, and she already had a present for her mom, Rose Mary.
“She called and said, ‘Mom, I have a gift for you, but I’m just not feeling well. So I’m not going to come by,’” Rose Mary recalled. “And I told her, ‘That’s OK. I’ll see you in a few days.’
“And we never saw her again.”
On May 15, Helen told family members, she received the results of a COVID-19 test: positive. She also said she had been battling a kidney infection. Two weeks later, she died of complications from her battle with the virus.
Helen’s family didn’t want to hide her cause of death, referring to COVID-19 in her obituary. A doctor ruled coronavirus as the cause of death, while also noting that Helen had diabetes and high blood pressure.
“She was young, had her whole life ahead of her. If it would have been me, it would have been a different story,” Rose Mary said. “I lost my daughter to this. This is real. It’s not a hoax. It’s not a joke.”
Helen was born in Ohio, but the family moved to northern Indiana when she was a young child. Helen spent the rest of her life there.
Family members recalled her skill with crafts and the creative gifts she would make, such as scrapbooks for her nieces and wedding and baby shower invitations for her sister.
They remembered the summers they spent together at the lake. They remembered when Helen was a young girl — the one sibling who never liked having her hands dirty, even when the other two had no problem rolling around in the mud.
“Helen was an adventurous person. One time I said something about wanting to go on a train trip. The next thing I know, she called and said, ‘Mom, what are you doing Friday? Pack your bags because we’re getting on a train,’” Rose Mary said. “It was a spontaneous trip to the Navy Pier in Chicago, and it’s one of my favorites with her. That’s the kind of person she was.”
“She was selfless,” said her sister, Alexandria Hall. “She might not have taken care of herself as much as she needed to, but she would always give the shirt off her back for somebody else.”
Helen’s gift for Mother’s Day was still sitting in her house a few weeks after her death. She also planned to give the same gift to her sister: hand-made address labels with small pictures, and fresh flowers.