Betty Jane’s 85th birthday would have been February 14, 2012. She nearly made it. She was the first neighbor we met when we moved here eleven years ago, and possibly the kindest. The other great lady, Aunt Lois, was the widow of my late father’s oldest brother.
She commiserated when I ragged about marriage, housekeeping, family issues and the like, making me feel like she had gone through the exact same trials and tribulations. She comforted me with the idea that I might expect the same overall good outcomes as she had. She was happy, loved her kids, grands and great-grandson.
She laughed and joked and gave great hugs and loved to watch ball games and she fake-cussed at bad calls and dopey plays. She endlessly praised our mutual friendship, saying, “We’ve never had such nice neighbors and good friends,” and just hearing that made me want to be an even nicer neighbor and better friend.
I began losing Betty when I was undergoing cancer treatments and didn’t have the energy to get over to visit. At the same time, she began suffering more Parkinson’s symptoms and was less able to get around, so we didn’t see each other much. Suddenly she declined and went into the nursing home, and I finally went to see her – once.
A few Saturdays ago my husband and I were planning to visit her in hospice but got busy with other errands and promised to go the next day. Betty Jane died that night.
About a week after Betty’s funeral, my sister called to say our Aunt Lois had died, somewhat suddenly. Though she was 94, she was always on the go and busy with bridge and sorority activities – right up to the very end! She played cards and went out to dinner the night before she died.
In all the many years of her life and mine, our paths crossed infrequently, and I didn’t know her very well. I know her son and his family only a little better. My fault entirely. But from what I do know of her, I think Lois liked a good laugh and admired music and scholarship and gave great hugs, and adored her family and grandsons and great-grandson and was adored by them.
She had a beautiful smile and a friendly, comfortable way about her, I do know that. And I can imagine that may have made people around her say something like, “Thank goodness for such a nice neighbor, such a good friend.” Imagining this makes me want to be a nicer niece, a better friend.
From an admirer to two inspirations:
Miss Betty Jane and Aunt Lois – A Happy Valentine’s Day.
I’ll always treasure your example to live life fully and share hugs generously.
Bye for now, and thank you.