Every once in awhile, God places angels right here among us. Grandma Betty, as she is affectionately known, was indeed an angel. I recently read a quote that said, “Your smile is your logo; your personality is your business card; how you leave others feeling after an experience with you becomes your trademark.” Betty shared her logo with everyone with whom she crossed paths, and one always felt better after spending time with her. She had the ability to make everyone feel loved and appreciated. She made others feel better about themselves simply by being Betty. That is truly a gift.
Going out shopping, to an auction, or to dinner with Betty was always an experience. She knew everyone, and it seemed that everyone was her cousin. Her family seemed to blanket Perry, Breckinridge, and Hancock counties. I often wondered if all of these people were actually her cousins, or if Betty just had so much love in her heart that she wanted everyone to feel like family.
I still remember the day I first met Betty. We had just moved into the house across the street from her, and she and Dorothy, another neighbor, came over to introduce themselves. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.Over the years, Betty became part of our family. She was a second mother to me, offering her wisdom and love whenever it was needed, even times when I didn’t know I needed it. She became a grandmother to my daughters, sharing her love of baking and of laughter with them. They loved walking across the street to Grandma Betty’s. I loved having someone who would share both my joys and my tears. No matter how down I might feel, talking to Betty always made me feel comforted. And when I had good news, she would end up being more excited than I was.
About 18 years ago, when my daughters were young and I was working full time as a hairdresser, I began to consider going to college to become a teacher. It was an intimidating decision, and I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. Betty encouraged me, never doubting that I could do it, and shared her stories of nursing school. She let me know that she would be there for me, and when I finally began classes, she even kept Addie while I went to school. It was during this time that Addie started her coffee addiction. “I just give her milk with a little coffee in it,” Betty would laugh. Addie and Betty had their routine; Betty let Addie watch her shows on Nickelodeon, cooked her better lunches than she would ever get at home, and they would swing. We all have such fond memories of the swing in Betty’s yard. And her yard…that lady could grow flowers. I will never look at an iris without thinking about Betty.
She took great pride in her flowers and in her home. She and I shared a love of decorating and of antiques. We’d go to a shop where she’d purchase some treasure, usually saying, “Don’t tell anyone how much a paid for this!” Every time I went to Betty’s house, something was new or rearranged. Her table was always set, and there was always candy on the bar for all of her kids. One always felt welcome in Grandma Betty’s home.
Betty spent her life helping others. Whether it was raising her six children or nursing ill patients, teaching school children or rocking babies at daycare, so many in our community were made a little better by a hug or kind word from Betty. As we all say our final good-byes, we need to take a piece of that with us and love fully just as she did. We need to pay attention, and when someone needs a lift, provide it. We need to make every child who crosses our paths know that he or she is loved and cared for. We need to encourage those who come behind us on this journey to chase their dreams, just as she chased hers to become a nurse.
And we should all thank Betty’s children for sharing their mother with us. She was so proud that each of them had gone to college, and she was proud of the caring adults they all became. So thank you, Donna, Doug, Debbie, Lorie, Lisa, and Janet. Your mother was a gem and she will be missed by so many. We all have an emptiness in our hearts, yet our hearts are also more full because of the love Betty shared with us all. Until we meet again…