My mom, Helen Hart McArdle died at the young age of 58, but her life was still jammed full of love and life. [she told me] ‘I have packed a whole lot into this life.’ , Helen was born January 1st, 1961 and died October 4th, 2019. She was baptized January 15th, 1961 and kept her faith alive until the end. Her catholic faith kept her strong when she struggled through her fight with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Helen was the youngest girl in a family of fifteen children of Catherine Summer and James Patrick Hopkins in Bethpage, NY. From a young age she had an aptitude for learning, reading and creating. She graduated from Hofstra University, the first in her family to earn a Bachelor’s degree. She moved into the world of New York City corporate business. She had a fruitful career. She was working in the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. The things she saw on that day impacted her for the rest of her life. She was a complicated, deeply emotional and moral woman. She saw this world for what it could be, what it should be.
I knew my mom best by how she spent her free time. She loved to sing and dance. An avid photograph, painter, and fragrance maker. She loved flowers and color and the sky. She was a regular commenter on “The Guardian.” She would excitedly show me anytime her post was heavily upvoted. She was a listener. She had a temperament that caused strangers to open up to her. At her final months at Care One in East Hanover, she had made friends with a lot of the nurses and aids. She’d enliven telling me second-hand stories from her favorite nurse’s lives. Even in the hardest of times, she was giver. Her life revolved around me and Spencer. She suffered 9 long months of ALS deterioration but her strength was incredible. She did everything she could to keep her disease from affecting me and my brother. She didn’t want to recreate the stress she had faced being a caregiver for both her mother and father. Her caring nature extending beyond her kids. She was giving with her money and time. She was deeply affected by homelessness. She volunteered at Thrift Store Independent and stay overnight hosting homeless families at Saint Vincent’s Church in Madison. So please, in place of flowers and other gifts, please make a donation to a homelessness charity, Family Promise of Morris County.