Helen Bradford came from an old
Providence, RI family that had been long established in both
society and finances. Her parents were quite adamant that Helen
be well educated and meet ‘just the right’ people. She attended
the Lincoln Day School, Providence, RI, and attended and
graduated from Smith College with a degree in English, which her
parents considered ‘appropriate’ for a proper young lady. What
she did, after graduation, caused her parents no end of
consternation. She met and married, a young man from a ‘good
family’, the fifth child and youngest son of the Crane family,
David Crane, who after graduating Brown University, took a
commission in the Navy, and Helen Bradford found she was the
perfect fit for the young man.
Embraced with enthusiasm by the Crane
family, the Bradfords reluctantly gave their blessings to the
young couple, as they were married, and left for David’s first
posting, in the Far East. David Crane worked hard at his career,
as Helen worked equally hard to give him a balance with family
life. David was on course for command in surface ships, and by
the time Lee was born, he was a Lt. Commander, stationed at the
Newport Naval Station in Newport Rhode Island.
Helen and David bought a house in
Providence, with David commuting to the base when he was
stationed at his tours on base. With the training he received
at the schools at Newport, David was made the XO on the USS
Orion. His berth on the Orion was his final posting
as it was on the Orion that he was killed.
With his death, Helen Crane, who had
been a very happy, outgoing person, changed dramatically. She
became withdrawn, and brooding, insisting that Lee do the
‘right’ things for and with both families, but while loving her
son, becoming removed from any but the basic interactions with
him. She did not know how to cope with the loss of her husband,
and it was reflected in her life with her son. The boy knew that
his mother did love him, but he missed his father, and didn’t
know how to cope with his now emotionally removed mother. Helen
tried very hard to give the boy everything he needed, but she
was unable to give him what he wanted, an open and happy mother.
She was angry with David for dying, and
tried to remove all memory of him from their lives, which only
caused Lee to seek out him in books, and other family. As the
boy grew into a young man, he decided he wanted to follow a
career in the Navy, which further alienated him from his mother.
‘Pops’ DeLuca had filled part of that gap, and Helen had been
either oblivious or not caring. When Lee announced he had an
appointment to the Academy, she stopped talking to him, refused
to attend his graduation, and cut herself off from him. For some
12 years, she received cards from him, and sent him ‘proper’
responses, but never spoke to him.
Her relationship with him began to
change when he left the Navy to go to NIMR. Helen knew it was
‘based’ in the Navy and Navy rules and regulations, but in her
mind, it was not the Navy that she hated, so she started to
soften to Lee’s commitment to boats and the sea. When he was
blinded by Dr. Gamma, and all thought he would never regain his
sight, she made arrangements for him to come home to live with
her. Fortunately, his sight did return, and Helen made her first
trip to the west coast in twenty years to see Lee.
At that time, they reconciled, and began
to build their relationship anew.
When Lee started dating Cathy Connors,
Helen and Lee finally resolved all of their differences, due in
part to Cathy’s desire to know Lee’s mother, and make her a part
of their lives. Lee willingly gave in, longing to have the
mother he knew as a young boy, before his mother died.
Helen rejoiced in the birth of her
grandson, Robert, and travelled to Santa Barbara a number of
times to share with Lee and Cathy in the growth of their son.
She became very close to Cathy, coming to love her dearly.
When Cathy was killed, and Lee left a
widower with a small child, Helen did the only thing she could.
She closed her house, and went to the west coast to live with
Lee and help raise Robert.
Living with her son, she saw him do what
she had done when David died, and every moment she could she
tried to protect young Robert from the deep, brooding grief that
Lee was going through. Lee, having lived through the loss of his
father at a young age, worked hard at being as engaged and
loving as he could be when he was not on a mission away from the
Institute. Whenever he was with Robert, whether he was home or
in the MedCenter, with Helen’s help, he was involved with his
son, something his mother had not been with him.
When Caitlin Davis began helping with
the children of the senior staff, Helen Crane immediately
recognized her interest in Lee, and Lee’s complete obliviousness
to that interest. She was extremely pleased when Lee and
Caitlin began to date, and later married. She remained living at
the Institute for the rest of her life, but she did reopen her
house in Providence, and often took Robert on extended trips
east to get to know his family there.
She died in Santa Barbara, but is buried
in Providence with David Crane.