Jennifer Helen Collins, 31, of Gardner, formerly of Princeton and Fitchburg, died on Sunday July 18, 2010 at UMass Memorial Healthcare in Worcester. Jennifer was born on December 1, 1978 with spina bifida, which left her unable to walk and required her to undergo many surgeries.
She was a poet, a rider of horses, a lover of dogs, a victor at games, a social networker, and a crocheter. She loved music and singing and searching for a tune to carry. While there might be things she could not do by herself, she was rarely by herself. Jen had a way of getting forever into people's hearts, merely by loving them as family or friends.
For someone who was afraid of Santa Claus (She had her parents leave instructions for him at Christmas to just throw the presents through an open window and move along), she loved to give gifts. She'd often ask people about their favorite color, with an idea in mind for a present later.
Jennifer was authentic. She loved to talk to people so she could spend time listening to them. When she graduated from middle school, she was voted "best listener," a prerequisite to being a best friend, of which she had many. She volunteered as a companion at Oakdale nursing home, she attended Camp Agassiz Easter Seals Camp, first as a camper, then as a counselor in training. She volunteered at the Visiting Nurses Association in Gardner, and was activities assistant at Crystal House in Gardner. At the time of her death, she was taking classes online in the hope that she could one day be a psychologist, almost as if she didn't realize she already was.
Jen lived in her happiest moments, whether it was the thirteenth consecutive trip through "It's a Small World" at Disney World, a drive to see Christmas lights, Provincetown at night, word puzzles on the beach at the Cape, swimming with her grandparents, playing games with her brothers and cousins, writing poetry, or nights out with her mother, MaryLou.
Jennifer graduated from Wachusett Regional High School in 1997.She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Alcide and Lorraine Cormier, Walter and Shirley Irvine, and Fredrick Collins Jr.She is survived by her mothers MaryLou I. Cormier and Felice Collins; her father, William B. Collins; brothers William, Daniel and Erik Collins; her grandmother Ruth Eileen Collins; several cherished aunts, uncles and cousins; her dear friend Jack Kangas, and her housemates and friends Jessica McCarthy, Nancy Bache and Suzie Corsiglia.
Jennifer's parents would like to thank the doctors and nurses of the third floor ICU at UMass Memorial Healthcare in Worcester, and the staff of the Gardner Women's Residence for their skill and compassion.
A memorial service for Jennifer will be held at 4:30 P.M. on Thursday, July 22nd, in the Miles-Sterling Funeral Home, 100 Worcester Road (Rte. 12), Sterling.A reception to share in the celebration of the life of Jennifer H. Collins will be held immediately following at Chockset Inn in Sterling, Ma.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Jennifer's memory can be made to Camp Agassiz Easter Seals Camp, c/o Easter Seals, 484 Main Street 6th Floor, Worcester, MA. 01608.
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