R.I.P Helen Haskins: Your Legacy Lives On

Helen Haskins Rest in Peace, 2014“Quality is more important than quantity” – Helen Haskins

We say goodbye to our team member Tiffany’s grandmother who passed away on July 24th after many years of battling cancer. We are deeply saddened and comfort Tiffany during this time as she was unable to return to be with her family in Australia to attend the service today. The stories she has told us about her Nanna, and her influential legacy, has left us feeling as though we knew her personally. Rest in peace to an amazing woman who touched many lives both directly and indirectly.

Tiffany shares with us a few intimate details about her family and what influenced her most.

I was the eldest of 4 children, and as I was growing up my Nanna played a huge part in our childhood. We were very poor and my mum, her daughter, grew increasingly ill with an indeterminable disease. My father did not cope well with what was happening around him and retreated to his shed.

Nanna had Lupus yet never failed to be a happy, fun person; always singing and dancing, and loved to keep us entertained. Shortly after being diagnosed with cancer the first of 5 times, and faced with her own mortality, she flew my mum to New Zealand to be seen by more knowledgeable doctors. Mum was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, given only 5 years to live, and lost the ability to walk a year later. We prepared for the worst.

My father appeared to blame everyone for everything, and often insulted and criticised my mum for being ill. The worse she got, the worse he got. Nanna protected us from much of it when she could. She would travel down and take mum and us children away to her home when things got unbearable. I never saw either my Nanna or my mum cry over the years, not until much later on into my adult life. They both were so strong and protective of our feelings, hiding their sufferings and pain behind a smile.

Things were bad at home. Being the eldest, with mum near bedridden, I was the one to be lashed out against with the insults and criticisms from my father. So I left school, and went to live with my Nanna. Life with my Nanna was not much better. I soon witnessed firsthand my grandfather’s aggressive character. I had only experienced small, somewhat insignificants, outbursts before this time. However, he was scarier than my own father. I soon discovered how much adversity my Nanna was truly enduring, and yet she continued to hide behind that smile of hers, persisting in helping others with their lives, despite all that she was suffering herself.

My Nanna did not tolerate shenanigans. Not even the ones that the curve balls of life threw at us. She always said “quality is more important than quantity”, and she applied this philosophy to absolutely everything.

Nanna was undeterred, loyal, and continued to source medical help to save her daughter’s life. She was almost always there for me. No matter what was happening around her she never turned me down. She never once complained about the diseases, nor placed significance on any of them above life’s other events. When I was going through my own life crises she was there, even if only by letter or phone, and yet that made all the difference to me.

My Nanna’s life is not just a story about being the survivor of cancer, or living with Lupus, or even enduring through domestic abuse… No, her life was about all the little things that made a big difference to so many. I can look back now and see how the two most significant female influences in my childhood shaped who I am today. Both my Nanna and my mum have molded me to appreciate the importance of helping other people irrespective of my own adversities, to not waste time complaining about life when you can simply live it, and “quality is more important than quantity”.

There is no excuse to not be the best you can be with what life has been given you. Everyone matters… it is not how much you give, but what you give. Even the smallest thing can make the biggest difference.

Tiffany Litherland, Brand Relationship Specialist

Helen is the perfect example of how a seemingly ordinary human being can be such an extraordinary role model. She experienced many adversities, as we all do, yet it was how she chose to deal with life’s turns and challenges that made her one of the most influential people we know. We feel honored to be able to share the stories of people who have taught us valuable life lessons, who contributed to making this world a better place, and especially those who do so in the humblest and perhaps comparatively smaller ways. We believe that it is through these smaller efforts that the most significant changes are made. Each small change amounts to great changes overall.

If there is one thing that resonates throughout all the stories we share it is this… We all have a presence, each of us bringing to the table our unique purpose and gifts, and we all have the power to make a difference, especially in smaller ways that make great waves in the lives of others.

Helen Haskins at her autobiographical book launch for The Reluctant Sailor The Joys and Adversities of a Sailors Wife

Helen Haskins at her autobiographical book launch 2014

 

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