Driving Miss Betty


Here is the Queen “B” (in red) holding court at a family picnic

My sister-in-law Betty is a pistol. There is just no other word. She has always been her own person even in the 1950s and 60s when it wasn’t fashionable or accepted. Fast forward to now. She is 81 and still a pistol. Her brain is just as sharp and fast as ever. You can’t pull a fast one on her. She can even hear well, so there’s no whispering around her!

Last week I covered for my golfing brother and took her into rehab. No, this isn’t the Betty Ford rehab. It’s rehab for klutzes who break their bones in a fall. She is out about two months from her accident so the large cast is off her wrist but she needs rehab to get back her range of motion and dexterity.

We went to her rehab which is a small facility in a large office building. We walked in the door and everyone greeted her. They came flying out to check her in and see how she’s doing. (I did notice as I sat and waited for her that they did not do this for subsequent patients.) Although I couldn’t see the rehab area, there was only a half wall separating the waiting area from the rehab equipment area. I could hear everything.

For an hour straight, Betty played therapist to one care taker after another as they each gave an update on their lives. She doled out sage advice and encouragement. As I sat there, I wanted to respond with a little more force. It went something like this:

Caretaker: The school always wants me to be more involved. I just don’t have time. I feel bad saying no but they don’t understand that my life is busy.

Betty’s response: You need to let them know that you will do what you can on your terms but you can’t commit to activities that don’t have time limits. You can help out at a fundraiser but you can’t run the whole event. If you are upfront about it, they should understand and be grateful for any help that you give.

Kate’s response: For god’s sakes, just tell them to bug off, willya!!!!!

Caretaker: I always feel so guilty when I say no to anyone.

Betty’s response: Sometimes it is necessary to say no or you will overextend yourself and your family will be shortchanged.

Kate’s response: Guilty? You feel guilty? Stop being a wuss!

Caretaker: My husband just doesn’t understand me. He expects me to do everything.

Betty’s response: Marriage is a give and take relationship. Perhaps you can negotiate what you will do and what he will do.

Kate’s response: Kick the bum out!

I am sure you get the picture. By the end of the hour, I was exhausted but Betty walked out with a spring in her step. Her only question was, “Where can we go for lunch?”

18 thoughts on “Driving Miss Betty

  1. I used to sound like Betty… now I sound like you. 😀 But, I like both. I wonder if I will ever get the “Betty” responses back or if I will just get less and less patient. Time will tell – good Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise! You make me laugh, Kate, not matter what!


  2. Betty must be a wonderful person to be around! And although my responses would ordinarily be more like yours (what I’m thinking at least!), I should probably be practicing to be more like Betty! I’m a klutz, the odds are I’ll one day need my own rehab time, and I like the idea of everyone jumping to attention when I’m around. I am a good vicarious learner, so I’ll remember your special Betty! Debra


    • Actually we have an advice columnist in our local paper — the Advice Goddess — who dispenses advice similar to mine. She is a hoot. When I worked in human resources I would often cut out her columns and hand them to employees with sad problems. I appreciate the suggestion though. You just never know!


  3. Cute picture of Betty (and you too..ah you can’t hide from me!). She may be a pistol but you’re the one packin’ with your take no prisoner’s comments. BTW, kicking the bum out has a nice kick to it…bang bang bang! 🙂


    • They come from too many years of human resource work. I found that most people know what they need to do about their problems. They just don’t want to do what’s necessary which makes me less sympathetic.


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