Helen T. Fabis
March 1, 1914 - April 30, 2001
April 30, 2011
Everybody misses you so much. Every day of my life I think of you, Sunshine first thought in the morning and last thought at night. I can’t believe it’s been ten years. I’m 93 years old now, Hardy is 89 can you believe that? I’m the only one left from our family. I have so much to tell you I don’t know where to begin or how to say it, I could write volumes about you my sister my very best friend, all the good times the laughs we shared but there were some sad times too that make me cry, the saddest time in your life was when Wally died I think you know that was a very sad time for all of us he was a wonderful man, you were the perfect couple.
It was always you, Helen, you were the caregiver first for Wally when he was diagnosed with Diabetes before your wedding day. Over time he was unable to work full time then you opened your own business, a dry cleaning store with tailoring and clothing alterations by you with Wally helping you out when he could.
I remember when there was a time that I was able to do something to help you with sewing blouses late at night. You were special, you were born smart and talented, you started designing and sewing women’s blouses for sale in your store. You weren’t able to sew fast enough to keep up with the orders, the blouses were selling faster than you and I could sew them up.
So many memories, do you remember how afraid we were to fly for the first time in our lives when we went to California by airplane for Gerald’s wedding? We wanted to go but we didn’t want to get in that ‘tube’ and fly, we couldn’t see ourselves sitting on an airplane we couldn’t change our minds because Sylvia bought the tickets and Cynthia was driving down from Whidbey Island Washington. We were so happy we were still alive, we made it, we did it, we landed we couldn’t get off that plane fast enough. Then we forgot about being afraid of flying we had a wonderful time for two weeks meeting people, the big wedding all the traveling around the state and no cooking for two weeks that was a real treat, then we had to leave. We had to get on that ‘tube’ that airplane and worry about it all over again. We laughed about that experience for years.
I remember when you retired then you lost your lease, you needed to move, we wanted you to live with us. It was a big decision for you to leave Chicago you needed your own place you decided to try it out to rent a house next door to Jean and Adam in Edgerton, Wisconsin. It was a sad year, a year of losses for me, Pop died that same year.
I wanted to tell you all this and so much more. I can’t forget that first day when I walked into your hospital room, I couldn’t believe my eyes I tried to hide my feelings and not cry but I was shocked at the drastic change how different you were. You were awake for a few moments, you opened your eyes when I spoke to you in Polish, you recognized me and smiled, then Sylvia and Ed, but you were so sick and weak we were afraid to overdo it. I don’t know if you could understand or remember what we were saying to you or if you understood why you were in the hospital.
I tried to tell you gently but I don’t know if you remember why we couldn’t come up right away the first day you were taken by ambulance to the emergency room. When I told you that we couldn’t make the trip because Ed’s mother Charlotte died that same day and then we were at her funeral, you understood, you put your hands on your face, you were crying.
We stayed by your bedside for the entire day while you slept. The nurses were very nice to us they told us they never knew of or had a case like yours before they were shocked. They were helping us understand what happened to you telling us what to not to expect from you, how carbon monoxide poisoning destroyed your mind and body. We were doing our best to keep our feelings quiet so you wouldn’t be afraid.
You might not remember but we visited you every weekend on the nursing floor in Wisconsin then you came close to us to a nursing home in Des Plaines, Illinois. There were times when you were wide awake and alert you asked questions you always asked me where is Gerald? How is Gerald doing?
It was so hard for me to talk about him but I had to tell you the truth it hurt me to give you bad news each time you asked but I had to tell you why he isn’t here, why he couldn’t visit you, I told you that he was not doing well, he was very sick he was dying. Every time I told you, you were so upset and so sad you put your hands to your face and cried. I think it was better for you that you didn’t know he died, Gerald was gone 6 months later.
Jean is gone many years now. She never recovered. Jean was so sad she told me she cried every day. She couldn’t look at your old house, she hated the house next door calling it the ‘house of death’ she wanted it to go away. She did her best to hide her feelings but her life changed drastically after you left. Jean missed you so much, the sister arguments, she was very lonely and sad but we both know she lived by the clock, she had her schedule she was stubborn, everyone knew she didn’t want to leave her house ever, she wanted to die in her house.
If all this sadness and heartache wasn’t bad enough, in my lifetime nothing could have ever prepared me for what was coming next and for years after as the truth of what happened to you was revealed. Ten years later the heartbreak doesn’t go away and I am still shocked with disbelief and very angry that I didn’t know the truth of what was going on. Hardy and I are living with the guilt everyday of our lives that we couldn’t save you, Sylvia couldn’t save you, nobody could stop it or save you from all the people that hurt you and took advantage of you when you couldn’t protect yourself or fight back.
Helen, you would be so proud of me and Hardy, so very proud of your family. Your nieces and nephews and their spouses and partners got together as one to give you a voice. You were heard.
Can you believe it? I was in a courtroom many times it was all about what happened to you. I met the nicest people at the first hearing, I met Special Agent Michael Hoell.
The last time I was in the courtroom Judge Daley was sitting at the bench this was a very important hearing.
Family came in from Texas and Washington state and we came up from Illinois the day before, we all stayed in a hotel so we would be close to the courthouse we couldn’t be late for the hearing. I was frightened by the thought of it but I knew I had to do this for you, for the family it was my turn to be there for you, to be strong and speak for you.
When it was my turn to speak to the judge, I was so nervous, I don’t know how I did it, but I walked over and sat next to Special Agent Robert Page and nice lady Barbara Oswald she was the Assistant Attorney General. I asked her if she could help me out, I asked her if she would read out loud in the courtroom what I wrote to the judge. She said yes. I was so grateful, all of a sudden I couldn’t even talk it was too much for me. I was afraid if I would say one word I would start crying right there in that courtroom in front of everybody.
In my Victim Impact Statement to Judge James Daley, I wrote that we were betrayed, my sister Helen was stripped of her dignity, rights and all that she owned. We have so many regrets, so much we did not know, if only we knew then, what we know now.
I ask for your forgiveness.
Miss you, I love you always,