2011 Golden Pen Award
In Memoriam
Helen E. Rilling

February 9, 1914 - November 29, 2009

Helen E. Rilling, 94, Auburn, Illinois, was a supporter of every creative challenge given by Amy Kitchener’s Angels Without Wings Foundation since its incorporation as a non-profit literary society in 2001. She was a member of its Meeting the Muse Chapter of the Missouri State Poetry Society and won awards in the Senior Poets Laureate contests. A lifelong student, she was a Bardlet in Yvonne Nunn’s Cyber College of Online Poetry. Helen was a crew member of Project Aznatsyrots which blasted the Story Stanza into cyber-space on 1-1-08. Despite being injured in a fall shortly before her death, she claimed writing helped her heal, and her good-hearted humor prevailed throughout her life. She received the Mayor's 2007 Arts Awards for Springfield and surrounding Illinois counties. She was “hired hand” on her husband's farm for years. Helen had five books and 1000 poems published. Her sign was Aquarius.


CAMEO OF A LONG AGO SPRING DAY

Papa came up from the barn.
He carried two shiny buckets of milk;
foam ran over the sides and a
passel of cats and kittens followed.
"Morning everyone." He smiled. "Would
you all like to take a walk today?"

Squeals of delight answered his question.
Papa knew the name of every wild flower
and bird that flew overhead. We trudged
across the meadow, a sea of purple clover.
Yellow and black bumble bees did loop-de-loops
around our heads. A spring fed the creek
that gurgled as it flowed on through the
countryside down to the river. Papa knelt
and showed us a delicate lady's slipper
all pink and purple. We saw yellow buttercups,
white daisies, and golden dandelions everywhere.
Trees blossomed overhead, birds fluttered and
filled the air with sweet music. I looked up to the
tall tree tops and wondered if I'd be in heaven
if I was up there. Papa found a sunny spot and we
knelt around him and said our noon blessing. We
each had a sandwich in our pocket. Bright yellow
butter oozed from the thick slices of homemade
bread. Papa found wild onions and washed them in the
crystal creek. After lunch we walked over to the walnut
grove in a neighbor's timber. We'd gather nuts there
in the fall. We retraced our steps and found more wild-
flowers like may apples, violets, and wild roses. We
picked Mother a bouquet. We rolled in the tall grass and
mocked the black crows in the distance. Papa told of his
father coming in a covered wagon to settle here on the
prairie. We felt a kinship to the land and a great love
for each other on this perfect joyous spring day.
I close my eyes and see papa in his gallus
overalls and straw hat. I hear the voices of my
brother and sisters. I smell the shady timber and
hear water rushing over fallen logs in the creek.
I know God is near this day.

Helen Rilling