Helen Martinez AKA “Nena” was born on May 9th, 1953, in Great Falls, Montana. Her father was in the Airforce and as a kid they lived in Great Falls, MT, San Antonio, TX and then Wichita, KS where she remained the rest of her life.
She was the eldest of 10 and was proud to be the Matriarch of the family. She cared for the entire family with such passion and conviction and was always willing to do whatever was needed for anyone. She made sure to be present for family functions, celebrations and gatherings. She truly made an impact on all those that knew her.
I remember as a little kid mom would always have KEYN oldies station playing very softly in her room and on a pretty day she would have her bedroom windows open. I would often find myself crawling into her bed to take an afternoon nap with the lace curtains moving from the gentle wind and the sound of the music in the background wound carry me to sleep. It felt like home to me. I guess you could say that’s where I found my love for music is through her.
She loved to go to the river festival and concerts at the Westbank stage dancing and singing with family and friends, as she would say “back when it was fun.” Some of her favorite bands and artists consisted of The Beatles, Carly Simon, The Bee Gee’s, Barry Manilow, Gordon Lightfoot, Tears for Fears, Duran Duran, George Michael, The Beach Boys and Neil Diamond.
You could always tell what time of year it was on Ida Street as she made sure to decorate both the inside and outside of her home for every Season or Holiday. She would send pictures and videos of her decorations so that I could see her display. We made it a tradition to watch Christmas Vacation every year and we would laugh like it was the first time we saw it.
She never missed an opportunity to cook for anyone when she had the chance. Her fried chicken, pork chops and salsa and deep-fried burritos were some family favorites. She even carried on an old family recipe for “stuffing” at Thanksgiving that passed down from her grandmother. Anyone that ever came to Thanksgiving always looked forward to having Nena’s stuffing.
One of her favorite past times was going to thrift stores, garages sales and yes, even Wal-Mart! Actually, let’s just say anything involving shopping just to cover the bases. I remember as a kid going to the Flea Market on the weekends with my Mother, Grandmother, Aunt and a cousin or two.
She enjoyed taking her chances on the slot machines at the casino from time to time and was pretty darn lucky too!
She was always sure to keep the bird feeder full in her front yard, even though the pesky squirrels would often help themselves to it…
The second eldest sister Jesucita shared, she was a huge and loving part of my life as my big sister. Fun to be around and spend time with. She was cool, beautiful, feisty and a very hard worker, and I loved her so much.
The third eldest sister Rose shared, in all my days I always felt I was never alone. Because he who created me will someday carry me home. I’m home where I belong amongst the Angles and my Heavenly Father has called me home. My love will carry those whom I could not bring with me, but someday we will all meet again. All my love to each and every one of you. R.I.P. my beautiful sister.
Her niece Chalese shared; Nena was such a huge part of mine and my family’s life. She would attend church with me during the Holidays, go to my girl’s school programs, dance recitals and soccer games. She would also make sure to include us when she had big events at her work. She was always so excited to see my girls and loved them so much. They loved doing crafts with Nena, watching movies and going on walks. Nena was such a kind soul who loved taking care of others. I will remember and cherish every moment I had with her.
Every day around 10am I would get a text message from her including a GIF reminding me to have a great day and that she loved me. I looked forward to those every day and made sure to send her one right back with my own GIF and telling her that I loved her as well.
Even though she loved her work she was happy to finally retire in 2019 from Presbyterian Manor after working hard for so many years. She enjoyed keeping busy whether that be working in her yard or doing crafts which she would often share with family and friends, puzzles or even something as simple as coloring in a coloring book. I have received an outpouring of messages from some of her old coworkers and even some family members of the residents at Presbyterian Manor expressing how great of a woman she was and how all the residents loved her. They mentioned how great she was at her job, and they always looked forward to whatever she had planned out for them to do.
After she retired, she was able to get away to Kansas City more often and spend quality time with her son and his husband and often their friends who became her friends as well. Every time we pulled into Downtown KC; she would say ta-da we’re here. She loved to go to the Plaza, River Market, West bottoms, go out to eat and having a margarita and stay up to watch movies in the theater room. She enjoyed sitting on the back deck and drinking her coffee in the morning and taking it easy. Every evening before bed she would hug me and say goodnight, have a good day tomorrow and I love you. She would always say after coming back home to Wichita, “Thanks for showing your Ol’ Mom a good time, Son!” and “Be sure to text me when you get home and drive safely”.
My mother will be deeply missed by all and the impact she made on all our lives will never be forgotten. She loved life and everyone in it. I was incredibly blessed that God chose her to be my Mom. I will cherish each memory we had together. I know she will be watching over us all and will still be with us in spirit. I love her with every fiber of my being and will miss her so much. I know we will be reunited someday and oh how that day will be joyous.
May God rest her beautiful soul in her new and everlasting eternal life.