From Loving Family to Compassionate Care: Aunty Helen’s Story

Aunty Helen (left) poses for a photo with caregiver Cing (right). Photo by Charlene Winfred.

“I have Cing. She helps me a lot.”

Aunty Helen is very close to Cing, one of the caregivers in the Red Crowns flat where she has lived for just over a year. The mutual affection is obvious to anyone who drops by for a chat. Cing’s presence is a source of comfort for Aunty Helen, and her cooking is a highlight of Aunty Helen’s days. Whether she is chatting with Cing during her daily exercise, or sharing a conversation with her at home, there is laughter and a palpable warmth between them.

Aunty Helen comes from a large family: She is the eldest of 10 children, has four of her own, six grandchildren, and one great-granddaughter, of whom she is unabashedly proud of. “My great granddaughter loves me very much,” she says proudly.

At 91, her long life is a rich tapestry of being loved, and loving well in return, right from the start. She is close to her brothers and sisters, was doted on by her grandparents, and when she was married, had great relationships with her mother- and sisters-in-law.

Aunty Helen was a dance coach in her youth. Her husband introduced her to ballroom dancing after they were married, and they’d worked together as instructors. Outside of teaching though, they’d danced competitively all over the world, but most frequently and successfully in China. “I didn’t want to dance at first,” she chuckled, remembering. “But he didn’t want to take another partner. So I had to be his.”

Aunty Helen’s husband opened up the world to her. Outside of dancing, he loved to travel, and wanted very much to share those adventures with her, as often as they were able. She had met him while she was working as a typist for the British Army, and despite many other suitors, there was something about him that eventually meant 50 years of marriage, before illness claimed him. 

“My husband was very good to me,” she said wistfully, recalling how he would always end their arguments by taking her out to do something together. “He will say ‘come let’s go out. We don’t quarrel, we don’t argue. We go out together.’” 

She still misses him, after all this time. “To go to heaven,” she said, about what she most wanted. “To be with my husband.”

Cing, sensing the change in her mood, puts a gentle hand on Aunty Helen’s arm. Aunty Helen’s eyes brightened. “But my girl,” how she fondly refers to Cing, “I want you to know she is very good.” 

When Aunty Helen was asked about the secret of her good long marriage, she laughed and said “Take up dancing lah. Dancing with your husband is very good. Because you have trust in each other. You love each other, you hold each other. ” 

Redcrowns aims to help you live your senior years happily.
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Date Published
July 5, 2024
Charlene Winfred