Betty

Betty.

She was, is still, one of my all time favorite characters who played a part in my life.

Betty was Pam’s mom, of one my closest friends from childhood.  We lived in different worlds, my friend and I.  I lived in the city.  Pam lived in the country.  I traveled to the country every weekend. with my father and siblings.  At first we knew no one in the country setting.  There were enough of us to play together and dad kept us busy with the chores of setting up camp, and tearing down camp, every weekend.  Eventually though dad and us kids started to explore the world around us.  Dad would drive off to town for groceries or liquid sustenance.  Us kids would walk up the lane and gradually began to be noticed by the kids around us.

I met Pam first, then, gradually met her entire family.  Including her mom Betty.  The weekends soon enough evolved into me sitting with Pam on a Saturday night watching Hee Haw, or Dolly Parton, or some other show while we babysat her little brother.  While Betty and her husband were out Pam and I would sit for hours, weekend after weekend, comparing our lives.  We would talk about life in the bigger sense, the things we imagined would happen when we ‘grew up’.  Sometimes Betty would be there and we might end up going outside on the porch, or sitting with Betty playing games.  I don’t know what game we were playing when one of us spilled pickle juice all over the hundreds of little cardboard pieces.  I don’t remember anything about that other than spilled pickle juice sitting at the table in Betty’s kitchen while playing a game.

Betty smoked cigarettes.  Betty drank beer.  Betty cussed.  And Betty made me feel safe and happy.  She made me laugh even when she was cussing because she was just naturally using those words and adding color to the world.  Betty didn’t hide anything from us.  If she was mad she was mad.  If she was disgusted she might not talk to us, preferring to remain quiet instead of saying something she didn’t want to say to us kids.  If she was happy, we were all happy.  Though truth be told, she made me happy no matter what.  She was honest with us, but never cruel.   She made me feel wanted and like I belonged.

She was the first adult I ever showed my “writings” to.  One cold night we were sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace, the little brother was asleep.  I can still see Betty sitting on the couch, smoking, with her legs curled up under her.  She held my notebook on her lap.  She slowly read through that notebook, page by page.  She was drinking coffee.  She looked up once and said “I really like this”.  She tapped the page.  “This one”.

I will never forget her tapping that page.  Me getting up to see which one she meant.  I know I still have the notebook, I saved everything I ever wrote.  But I don’t need to go looking for it.  It was the blue, cotton covered, notebook.  White, wide ruled notebook paper.  Blue ink.   It said “It may be covered up, but it’s still there”.   And I had doodled something and then scratched over it with my pen.  She looked me in the eye and said “I understand”.

And I believed then, and now, that she did.  Though I doubt anyone else ever did, or ever will.

One day Pam asked me to spend the night.  For some reason my father said no, then went to bed.  It was dark, but not very late.  Betty didn’t understand why I couldn’t spend the night.  She knew we weren’t doing anything.  It was a cold, cold night.  There was a thick and new blanket of snow on the ground. No one was going anywhere or doing anything.   Betty walked with Pam down the lane in the dark, in the snow, to ask my dad if I could spend the night.  She made me get him up.  Normally, as parents, we don’t care to have someone question our decisions.  But dad said yes, and when I came home the next day, he didn’t even give me that “don’t ever let that happen again” kind of look or talk.  I think Betty caring enough to come and see if I could spend time with a friend  made some kind of impression on him.

I remember walking back up the lane in the tracks Betty and Pam had made on the way down.  The snow looked blue in some areas because of the moonlight and tree shadows.  I think at that moment I loved Betty.  If I could paint, that snowy night on the lane would be the first scene I would paint.  It’s that vivid in my memory.

Betty was her own force.  She didn’t take crap from anyone and only gave it if it was deserved.  Some people may have called her “rough around the edges”.  I would disagree.  I think her edges were very well defined.  She was loyal.  She was hardworking.  She didn’t lie.  She didn’t play at being someone she wasn’t.   She didn’t need to.

I liked Betty exactly as she was.

And I think she liked me too.

She was a very good woman.

I loved the truth of her.

I miss her.

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

45 thoughts on “Betty

  1. tric says:

    She sounds wonderful.

  2. Ocean Bream says:

    She sounds like a force of nature. I loved the way your described her, I could visualise the setting and your feelings came through so poignantly. A wonderful character to colour the pages of your life and leave a big, beautiful impact.

  3. ksbeth says:

    i love that you had her in your life and i love the ‘bettys’ of the world

  4. duncanr says:

    good folk come in all guises !

  5. What a sweet story! Betty sounds like a wonderful woman!

  6. It’s a good memory to keep. A heart shaped stone from the beach.

  7. Wow. She sounds fantastic, Colleen. Glad you had the pleasure of meeting her. 🙂 ❤

  8. So true we remember how someone makes us feel not all the stuff in our lives. This is a true testament to that and wonderful experience of two souls meeting. 🙂

  9. russtowne says:

    “If I could paint…” Ah, but you do, Colleen, beautifully. With words. And “It may be covered up, but it’s still there” is a masterpiece.

  10. Anonymous says:

    My grandma. My first true love. I miss her more than words can ever express. This world just isn’t as bright or the same without her. She was my traveling companion. My partner in new adventures. I’d give anything to have just 1 more day with her. I can’t wait to see her again. She’s my guardian angel and I will forever be her AJ.

  11. Recent studies have found that people who use foul language are more honest, they’re more open and trustworthy. They’re not hiding behind ‘what one should or shouldn’t say.’ But you didn’t need to read a study to discover this truth. You loved Betty. You were both lucky.

  12. That was great. I wonder if she ever knew how she inspired you.

  13. Angie says:

    This made me miss her terribly. The night she left us, I spent hours reading to her. I didn’t know if she could hear me, but it made me feel good, knowing that I could spend that time with her. I told myself that if she could hear me, she would know we were there. That she was not alone. I was her Chrissy. She hated my name; I never heard her use it until she got sick. I miss her more than I realized.

  14. I always know when a particular piece means so much to you. You don’t respond to comments, because you don’t need to, and because you’ve already said all that needs to be said on the subject. I would hope that everyone has a Betty in their life, even if just for a brief period. We need Bettys!

  15. You remember her well. Wonderful tribute

  16. reocochran says:

    Oh my, Colleen. I got to tearing up almost right away! I could sense a real woman in Betty. One who would be unshakable about pickle juice not worried about waking up your parents to ask if you could spend the night. I have had one every ten years of my life. (Silent prayers of gratitude for those who “know us” and let us “in” to know them.) ❤

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: