A Life Lived: Helen E. Rash left a big imprint on many hearts

Published 12:50 pm Tuesday, June 22, 2021

BY ROZELLA HARDIN
Editorial Director
rozella.hardin@elizabethton.com
Someone said: “The gentle footprints of kindness that you leave behind make a lifetime of soft imprints in the hearts of others that will never wash away.”
Helen E. Rash, who died June 15, after spending the last three years or so at Ivy Hall Nursing Home left an imprint on the hearts of her caregivers, who remember her kindness, gratitude, and sweet spirit.
One caregiver wrote on her Facebook page: “When I took my CNA class, they taught me a lot of things but they never taught me how to protect my heart from becoming attached. In six years, I have had a hand in taking care of a lot of residents and they each hold a very special place in my heart! But this one, this one is just different and my heart is just hurting today. You have fought many fights in your life & I know you were ready to go! I love you Helen…’
Helen was a resident on Hall 2 of Ivy Hall, and her room looked like a mini-library. A bookshelf in one corner held books; there were books by her chair, and even some in boxes. Helen was an avid reader. She enjoyed historical novels, love stories, mysteries…if it was a book, she enjoyed it. A friend earlier this spring had taken her shopping after she received her stimulus check and “she spent $250 on book purchases. Sadly, she never got to read any of them as she got sick shortly thereafter,” the friend shared.
Helen was not only kind to her caregivers, but to the residents on Hall 2. She brought them coffee, and often stopped to chat with them as she passed their door when she walked the length of the hall three or four times a day. During the pandemic she could be found wiping the doorknobs, cleaning tray tables, and even bathroom fixtures.
I met Helen soon after my neighbor and friend, Peggy, went to Ivy Hall. I soon learned that Helen enjoyed chocolate-covered mints as each day she would leave a couple on Peggy’s tray table. It was her way of reaching out.
I, every couple of weeks would buy her a bag of mints along with some other goodies. Others also brought her goodies. She also enjoyed donuts and fresh homemade cake.
Helen, though she had no close family – no brothers, sisters, children, nieces or nephews, had some distant cousins, but for the most part was alone in the world except for friends, and these she seemed to have no shortage of.
We learned that for many years she worked early voting at the Carter County Courthouse. 
Helen had lived for a time in Siam and later at Powder Branch. She had lived other places as well, including a short time in Canada.
Helen’s closest friend was Marjorie Campbell, who died three years ago. They were “partners in crime,” said Marjorie’s daughter, Darlene Wilson, who often did for Helen, and in the end was chosen by Helen to carry out her final wishes. “She liked adventure and enjoyed a good time,” said Darlene, who noted that Helen was pretty good at playing pool. In fact, she won one tournament and had a trophy to show for it.
She and Darlene’s mother in earlier years enjoyed camping. “They each had their own Winnebago, which they took camping, and they had several campgrounds they enjoyed going to. My dad at that time owned a small store, and when they were camping, he would take their mail to them each Wednesday, and would usually pick up their dirty clothes and bring them home and wash them,” shared Darlene with a muffled laugh.
She noted that Helen at one time lived in Missouri, where she showed horses.
Helen was also a long-time member of the Elks Club, and at  had held a state office in the organization.
If Helen had written a book about her own life, it would have been full of stories of romance, adventure, and fun. Although not married for the past several years, she had been married and divorced more than once.
Darlene also remembers the weekend pajama parties her mother and Helen would have at her house. “Those two had a good time wherever they were at,” said Darlene.
Whenever her health began to fail her and she made the choice to go to the nursing home, Darlene said Helen made the best of it. “She had no family and no one to care for her, and I think it was a good decision on her part. She was happy at the nursing home and spent her days reading and watching television. She saw people each day and was well cared for,” said Darlene.
Helen was tough. She had beaten breast cancer several years ago, and this past year beat COVID-19, but, in the end it was colon cancer that she succumbed to. But, not before making a big imprint in so many places and on a lot of lives.
Helen donated her body to medical science, thus, she continues to make an imprint in this world.
Helen E. Rash was 88 years when she died June 15 after a brief illness.

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