Wednesday, September 19, 2007
My mother's sister, my Aunt Betty...I was thinking about her today. She died several years ago, before my mother by a few years. She was the youngest of 3 children in my grandparent's family. Without a doubt, she was my favorite aunt, being one with poodles and all. She used to raise Mini's in her younger days. My first poodle, Jet, was one of her puppies she gave me (my mom in later years always insisted that Jet was *her* dog, but we both knew the truth).
When I was very young, Aunt Betty lived "somewhere north", meaning Wichita Falls, Tx..which was north of where I lived in Ft. Worth. I never saw her home there, but my two sisters did. I was horribly envious of pictures and stories I heard about their going to visit her and riding her horses. Eventually, she moved to a lovely lakefront home that became our holiday destination for family gathering and good food, coupled with swimming off the dock and tanning, always tanning. During those years, and they were good ones, she was so easy to be around, although a bit bossy . But, she was never bossy to me. She had a son, Frank, that sometimes was there and sometimes not...and he always seemed to be causing her worry. I later figured it out..he drank beer a lot, and I think she was afraid he'd take the boat out too drunk, etc. Frank did a nose dive into his breakfast cereal one day when he was about 42, and just keeled over with a heart attack.
Aunt Betty took it well. She was sitting with him when he died.
Her poodles were wonderful...I remember all of them. It was she who took me to my first dog show. It was she who encouraged me to love dogs and learn more about them. We always had that bond in common.
Hers was a mysterious marriage to Edgar. I can't ever recall their actually living together. Sometimes he was at the lakehouse, but more often he wasn't. He was the son of a former mayor of Ft. Worth, but he certainly wasn't an asset to that family. As time went by and I became an adult, it was revealed that he had another woman, and even represented her as his wife to those in Wichita Falls. Aunt Betty never did divorce him...but when Edgar died there were TWO wives at the funeral in mourning...I bet that was a weird sight. Hard to imagine this man led the life he did, having a mother that wrote a book entitled "All The Women of the Bible".
Aunt Betty raised all but two of her grandchildren...and there were quite a few. I have no clue where they are now. One ended up in prison and may still be there for all I know. The mothers of these children basically abandoned them...Frank's wives (lost count at 4 of them), of course.
And then there was Bobby, her other son. Mentally injured as a toddler by falling under a truck on the road, he was her constant worry. He lived with Aunt Betty until she died. I think he is in Florida now...with cousins. He's an older man now...still very child-like.
Nothing amazed me more as I was growing up, how she cared for him and all those grandchildren, while still having a career as a landscaper for a large nursery. She was so active in the Garden Club, the Woman's Club, and many other 'clubs'.
She was a drill sargent, funny in her own way, conservative beyond belief, very strict but at the same time, so giving. The last time I saw her, she was in poor health, and I knew it would be the last visit. I cried when walking away from her front door that day. She didn't know I had silently said my 'goodbyes'.
She died about 6 mos. later in a nursing home, out of her mind with dementia. I called her on the phone before she died, and I'm quite sure she knew who I was for just a second, but then lapsed into her fantasy world. I softly hung the phone up that day, knowing it was the last time I'd hear her voice.