Family Tales – “The Betty”


She looks great at 84.

A while back I started a list of funny things I remember. Not surprisingly, my family did more funny things than I did.

Things I did were tragic, really sad or in ‘the end of the world’ category. Not that I am at all theatrical about these things.

The easiest person to write about is my sister-in-law. I’ll call her Betty because that’s her name. Of everyone in the family, she is the most theatrical. More so than I am if that’s at all possible.

She has a lot of great traits. She has a fashion sense that I still admire. When I am unsure about colors, patterns or textures, I lure her over here with the promise of chocolate for an opinion.

She was also a great Mom. Because she was no angel in her youth (I only know this from stories that come out after midnight), her son was unable to get away with much. He is one of the few kids I knew that went for years without a school sick day.

Her place was where all the kids congregated. She was a stay at home Mom. She liked to keep an eye on things like a proper dictator.

None of this is funny but there are a few notable stories that circulate. (I felt compelled to write some good stuff about her first.)

Her social skills — I was young and in my early dating days when we double dated for a movie. She was married to my brother but we still called it a double date. We arrived close to the start time and it was crowded.

Every theatre has that one row with the extra leg room. It’s a fire aisle. Those seats are always taken first. A quick cruise determined that over the span of the entire row there were four empty seats but they were not close to each other. Other rows weren’t any better. We couldn’t get four seats together in the entire theater.

With a very polite authority similar to the Queen of England, she got everyone reseated so we could all sit together. She didn’t even offer free popcorn!

I don’t know how she did it. I was mortified! At first we all acted like we didn’t know who she was but we were quick to sit down when the seats became available. Today no one would move!

Sunday supper — We all congregated at my mother’s house for supper every Sunday. It was a lot like Blue Bloods. There were lively discussions with contrasting viewpoints on every topic. We had democrats, republicans and bleeding heart liberals (that would be me). Sometimes it was loud and other times it was really loud.

Mom had a simple hot supper ready with some home-baked dessert. Everyone helped themselves. On one occasion I used an insulated mug for my Coke to keep it cold. It looked like a super large mug of coffee.

When I turned my head Betty had taken it, added milk and sugar all the while working to persuade us that her point of view was the right one. I asked if she always takes milk and sugar with her coke. We all laughed at that one.

Very rugged trail mix — My all-time favorite happened last summer. Long-time readers know I am struggling with a chubby cat. I had the cat kibble out of reach of said cat on the kitchen counter in a glass dish. Betty came in and ate a handful as if they were M&M’s.

No one noticed until she had the second handful in her mouth when my brother (who was checking to make sure he wasn’t missing any nuts) informed her it was cat food.

She finished eating it and said it was quite good. (No wonder my cat is chubby!)

There are more stories. Maybe I’ll post them at another time. That is if my family is still speaking to me.

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

Here is the Queen “B” (in red) holding court at a family picnic many years ago flanked by me (left), my niece (right) and my brother. Gosh, we were young!


30 thoughts on “Family Tales – “The Betty”

  1. Your story about Betty eating the cat food cracked me up. At the first radio station I worked at, WOLF-AM in Syracuse, New York, there was a wonderful gal – Carol St. John. She was a DJ (disc jockey) and in sales. One day, she had some food in a dish on her desk. I think she said it was some kind of snack food. I grabbed some and started to swallow before she could stop me to tell me that it was dog food. That incident always makes me laugh.

    Betty sounds like quite a character. 😉


  2. Betty sounds like someone I’d love to know! I love that in the picture she’s wearing bright red while all the rest are in white. That seems to fit a woman who isn’t afraid of cat kibble as a snack. How nice to have a sister-in-law that is also a good friend, Kate. Lovely!


    • I don’t have any sisters. Betty and my niece are the closest thing. I have enjoyed excursions with both. Because of our age different, Betty was also a sort of mentor growing up. She always had the latest styles (hair and clothes) and helped me shape my own style. I remember one dress I bought that I thought was so cute. She wrinkled her nose and said it looked like a peasant sack. It went back. That’s power.


  3. Betty gets shit done! If you would be so kind to ask Betty if she could come work in my office for a few weeks that would just be great. I am in dire need of a take charge gal who does not bat an eye when she accidentally eats some kibble.
    Love the photo!


  4. Fun stories. I’m glad you added the last picture. I’m not surprised she was wearing red.

    Even today I think the theater seats could be rearranged. I have a girlfriend who could do it.


  5. A wonderful tribute to good old “what’s her name!”
    I shudder at the thought of future blogs. The family may have to get a “hit man” before it’s too late.


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