Helen Cleary (nee Higgins), Corry, Belleek loved life far too much to allow others to weep, even though she was cruelly taken on January 12.
This was a loving mother who put her arms around the world, and listened to its cares, a sweeper up of strays with a ready wit that drew smiles and took air gently from bags of wind.
But she will also be remembered for her wonderful way with children and the vulnerable.
Nobody was left out as Helen, aged just 57, looked the world in the eye and never ever judged anyone.
These are supreme social graces but they came as naturally as breathing to a young-at-heart mother who could hold her own in any company. She was the heart and soul of any party.
When her family was asked about their best memory of their mother, they had none…because there were so many. It was her words and actions that brought laughter into their lives every day.
And that is truly a wonderful epitaph to a person who made friends as easily as breathing.
Seven days before she passed away, Helen completed her crossword, a favourite passion and was more concerned about her family’s well-being than her own terrible affliction.
Helen fought her illness with great fortitude and courage that was an example to all who spoke with her in those final grey days.
There was no self-pity only concern for those who remained.
Helen Higgins was born in Wardhouse, Tullaghan, county Leitrim in 1956.
She was the fourth eldest child of the late Eddie and Margaret Higgins.
After attending Tullaghan National School, she went to Ballyshannon Vocational School, county Donegal before emigrating to England in the early 1970s.
Helen was a clerical worker and came back to work in Sligo in the mid 1970s a time when she met her husband & soul mate, the equally witty Philip Cleary from Belleek.
They were married in September 1979 on the month Pope John Paul came to Ireland and the same year that Philip’s local GAA club Erne Gaels took the Fermanagh county football championship title.
In the following years she made a warm home where all were truly welcome and was always up for the craic.
Every time the family went on holidays to Tenerife, Lanzarotte or their favoured Galway, Helen had made new friends for the Cleary family.
She loved walking, swimming, shopping and watching the darts, but not near as much as she loved her family with adoring eyes for her grand children Kaelym and Rhea.
“She was our best friend as well as our mother,” they said.
But she will also be warmly remembered for her work with very young school children in Garrison, Devenish College, Enniskillen and in Ballyshannon.
Those first days at school can very traumatic for a child, but Helen was there, as the ultimate second mother for the little people and those things are never forgotten.
Family friend, Father Joe McVeigh eloquently summed up Helen in a moving tribute at her hugely attended funeral in Belleek.
So let there be no tears as we celebrate a full life well lived.
Deepest sympathy to her husband Philip, Sharon (daughter), Conor (son), Aine (daughter), Adrian (son), Kaelym (grandson), Rhea (grand-daughter), Sister (Kathleen), Tommy (brother), Marian (sister), Ita (sister), Anthony (brother), Kevin (brother), Brendan (brother) Johnny (brother), Noreen (sister) Yvonne (sister).
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