Sunday, August 19, 2012

Remembering Betty at One Year

To describe the past twelve months as annus horribilis would be an understatement. Today marks one year since my mother-in-law left this life.

Betty made my life better by being part of it. I had the opposite of a stereotypical sitcom mother-in-law. Betty accepted me. She was warm and engaging and enjoyed spending time with her family.

Lucy and I made quite a few trips "up north" while we were together. We could count on a four hour drive each way (though it dropped to three-and-a-half hours after Minnesota 33 was redone in Cloquet and the Highway 2 overpass was completed). It meant we would pull in after 10:00 pm on a Friday and we would have to start the return trip by 2:00 pm on Sunday. We would always have a warm greeting waiting for us when we arrived. That made the trip worthwhile. It was also nice to unwind in a setting that was so peaceful and beautiful. Northern Minnesota's natural beauty is second to none.

Along with a warm greeting, there would usually be fresh baked treats. Scents of blueberry pie (when in season), cardamom bread, or home-made bread would waft through the house. Getting out of a car at -35°F and walking into a warm house with bread fresh from the oven is an indescribable treat. I swear I gained three pounds every trip we made back home.

Lucy's love of reading and poetry came from Betty. Betty's taste in fiction was broad. I remember seeing several Rod McKuen poetry books on the bookshelf. Suzy told us at Bob's funeral that Bob and Betty would go the library a lot after Bob retired. She would browse for a couple novels to check out while Bob would read the local papers.

Betty was also an artist. Lucy had saved some sketches Betty had drawn in letters to Lucy. Betty also painted a few watercolors. Barns were a favorite subject. She was also quite the photographer, another talent Lucy inherited. I once had a high school art teacher tell me the only thing I would ever draw well was criticism, so I do appreciate the talent and time Betty put into her creative ventures.

While Lucy was doing her family history research, she received a treasure trove of information from her aunt Kay. Included in the hundreds of pages of information were a couple articles Betty wrote for some local history books. They were very well written, informative and entertaining.

With all of Betty's interests, talents and skills, she made time to be an outstanding mother to four children. The love they were raised with molded them into caring and compassionate adults. That love is now passed on to their children.

She may not have been my biological mother, but she was my second mom. It's been a year, and I still miss Betty. A lot has happened since then, some good, some tragic. It's easy for a family to stick together during good times. She would be proud of how her children have stuck together during the adversities.

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