Betsy is one of those friends whose friendship transcends time and space. I know that on some level, I have always known her. Our actual years together were brief, but our friendship continues through the distance that separates us geographically. There is something about childhood friends who knew you when…
I met Betsy at the age of 12 during the summer of 1969 at a babysitting class, two months before entering the 7th grade. Betsy lived down the sidewalk from me in a townhouse community called Hallcraft in southeast Denver, Colorado. Some of my favorite and worst memories took place at Hallcraft.
The community was brand new, complete with an Olympic sized pool, the most incredible playground and a clubhouse with pool tables and ping pong. The playground included a magical pumpkin coach for pretend get-aways before the strike of midnight, two rocket slides; one with a control wheel on the top floor for take-off, and then there was a huge above the ground maze of tunnels and slides at the center of the playground which was perfect for playing hide-and-seek or tag. It was an idyllic place for kids to grow up.
Within the clubhouse was a large entertainment area where parties and dances where held. I remember dancing in my favorite hip-hugger, bell bottom pants with large daisies at one of the dances where boys lined up on one side and girls on the other. We all did variations of the same dances…over and over again. That night it was the German Cha-Cha and an updated version of the watusi. It was a fun time.
Betsy and I hung out together at school and at Hallcraft. Together we played and experimented, testing the grounds of what it was to be an adolescent. We protected each other during times when we did things that were questionable. And we are lucky to be alive, because some of the things we did could have ended differently. Yet, we live on to tell the stories of our impetuous youth.
It was the same year that problems started to surface at home. My mom was unhappy and no matter what I did to cheer her up it didn’t last. She slept through most of the day and I would be on my own to take care of myself. We didn’t have a name for this then but I now know it was clinical depression.
Betsy was my confidant and knew the stress I was under. So on the night of August 20th in 1970, Betsy wasn’t surprised when I called her with the news my mother had committed suicide. How could the place with such wonderful memories of my childhood also hold the memory of the worst day of my life? It has always been a dichotomy.
Betsy was the one who came over to stay and offer emotional support that night. What I remember to this day is that Betsy was there for me and she remains a constant friend…. for this I am grateful.
I recently saw Betsy during a layover in Denver on our way to a trade show in Florida. She shared with me her concerns about how her mother’s Alzheimer’s was getting worse and that her mom seemed frailer each time she visited her. The holidays came and went. Then early this year I received a message from Betsy that her mom had passed. She was ninety-four. Knowing how I was haunted with the incompletion from my mother’s sudden death, Betsy, made sure that she was with her mother, holding her until she took her last breath.
The letter she sent was so beautiful that I asked her permission to share it in its entirety…Read the following words of a daughter’s love and commitment to her mother.
Hi you, I got your voice mail last night. I had been spending a great deal of time with my mom since November when I realized that she was going downhill much faster than I suspected. I started going there after work most evenings, in addition to my usual Saturday visit, to spend time and see if I could get her to eat. I knew the changes I was seeing were signs of approaching death, and I just didn't know how long it would be.
I had communicated to my sisters that she was declining, and my older sister came for a visit in November, and then again in January for my mom's birthday - she made it to 94! While my sister was here, my mom brightened a bit and we had a decent visit and birthday celebration. My niece and her family arrived a couple of days after my sister left, and visited for four days.
My mom was in really great shape for their visit, so they have some great pictures, videos and lasting memories. Every time one of these periods of brightness would come on, I'd always wonder if it was like a light bulb - getting brighter just before it burns out. I think that was the case here, as literally the evening of the day my niece and her family went home, mom slid back. She was tired, didn't want to eat, and didn’t know me again.
By Saturday, I was pretty sure it wouldn't be much longer. I talked to the medical staff at the nursing home about hospice services and signed the papers. Hospice began coming in two to three times per week to check her out and make suggestions for her comfort. Tuesday morning, the hospice nurse came by again to check her out, and when she pulled back the bed covers, she found the skin on mom's legs was extremely mottled. That was certainly not the case on Monday night, as I saw for myself when the duty nurse and I were checking out the source of her pain.
The hospice nurse called me right away at work, and told me I should come. So, I was able to be with her, holding her, telling her I love her, that we all love her, and that everything was going to be fine. She wasn't really communicating verbally by the time I got there, but I got in her face a few times to make sure she knew I was there and that I wasn't going to leave her. Thus, when I asked her if she knew I was with her, she nodded; when I asked her if she knew that everything was going to be fine, she nodded.
It was really the best kind of death anyone could ever hope for. I will just miss her so much. She wasn't really much like my old mom anymore, but I loved this mom just as much. You would just gape at the number of nursing home employees who heard what was going on and came by her room to say good-bye, cry, and pay their respects, all after she passed, of course.
They were very unobtrusive while she was in the process, only stopping by to see if I needed anything. They're a great group of people. Thank you, my friend, for being with me in spirit, as I know you are! Love and hugs, Betsy
Betsy represents the grace available within us all….I am so honored to have her as my friend. Her patience, kindness and loving ways have carried her through life with a grace that is comforting to be around. She has shown me how patience is a virtue.
My lifetime friend gets recognition for being a Chakralicious Person sharing her love and light so gracefully. Thank you Betsy!