Hellen Pearl Laukkanen, of Middleborough, died on Friday, January 8, 2021, at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Plymouth.
Hellen was a long-time resident of Middleborough, MA, born to Donald John Ferguson of Cape Breton and Edna Pearl Langille of Nova Scotia, would not have told you how old she was, so neither will we. On her birthdays, she was always 59, and that was good enough for us. She had a large family and laughed loudly with them until she was crying and breathless. On the Laukkanen side, she was the last of her generation and had 17 nieces and nephews from across the country, including newly found relatives in Finland. On the Ferguson side, she is survived by her best friend and sister-in-law, Janinia Ferguson, her niece, Patricia Caton, 5 grand nieces and nephews, and 9 great-grand nieces and nephews. She lives in them all.
“Twinkle Toes” loved to waltz and foxtrot. She went to the Good Times in Mashpee to dance to country music. On Sundays, she and her husband, Aino played three-penny card games with the Fergusons and sipped Manhattans (she also loved a good Mimosa). She bowled to win. She enjoyed conversation in local restaurants and celebrating family with Aino at her home in Middleborough. Her favorite kind of getaway were casinos and cruises, and she dressed the part in bold colors and classy scarves. She said on our last Thanksgiving together, “I don’t care how old I get, I’ll still be a party girl!”
A party girl who was modern, smart, and resilient. She lost her mother when she was a child and became self-reliant and hard working. She graduated from the hospital nursing school, working long hours for $8.00 per month. Then she served and cared for others throughout her long career at the Lakeville Hospital, where she met her new patient, Aino. The two fell wholly in love and cherished one another for 16 years. After his death, she would never remarry, though not for want of offers. Aino was half of her spirit, half of her flesh. She lived alone, long after her friends moved to nursing homes, in what she was proud to point out was not an assisted living apartment, just an apartment.
A grandniece recalls Auntie Hellen never letting her live down a faux pas that she made at a very young age: Auntie Hellen was spending Christmas Eve at her house and borrowed her bed. Crying, the child told her, “Santa will see an old lady in my bed and not leave me any presents.” We called her Auntie Hellen; her onion casserole and sherried walnuts made our mouths water; she reveled in mirth, verve, and people; red roses were her favorite flower. When we last spoke, she said, “I love you, bye-bye for now.”
A private burial will be held in the Spring.
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