Everyone’s Grandma Betty

With the passing of Betty White at the end of 2021, there have been so many posts on social media! “Thank you for being a friend” has become an emotionally charged statement, especially with the events of the last two years. As a fan of Miss Betty, I was heartbroken that she is no longer with us, making us laugh, loving her animals, supporting her fellow performers. I however have my own grandma Betty, who at almost 91 years old, is also hilariously funny, love animals passionately and is so incredibly supportive of her family and friends!

Grandparents could be a child’s first, best friend

Many children do not get the chance to meet their grandparents, let alone develop a relationship with them. Whether due to physical distance, a rift in the family, or the grandparent passing on, there are so many challenges that could keep a child from knowing their grandparent. In my case, I grew up with an abundance of grandparents (both biological and by divorce) and have been so incredibly blessed to have relationships with each and every one of them.

I am the first grandchild in my biological family. The oldest child, the first granddaughter, first daughter, first niece, first cousin… You get the picture.

My maternal grandparents were divorced and remarried, so at the time I was born, I had 3 grandfathers and 3 grandmothers. Getting to spend an incredible amount of time with all of them, whether it was my dad’s parents babysitting my brother and I, my maternal grandfather taking us out for ice cream, or my maternal grandmother having me over for the weekend… I was with my grandparents a lot. I won’t say that I had great relationships with all of them. Our family likes to joke, saying that I have a lot of my grandparent’s personality traits. These traits may make me a bit more difficult at times. When it comes to family, I know we shouldn’t pick favorites, I had two…

My maternal grandfather, Grandpa Bill, and my paternal grandmother, Grandma Betty.

Grandpa Bill left us almost 22 years ago, and he will come up in future posts I’m sure, but today I want to talk about Grandma Betty, because she is pretty awesome!

Everyone should have a Grandma Betty

In my opinion, no one in my life encapsulates “maternal instinct” like my Grandma Betty. She was never one of those round, squishy, apron wearing, cookie baking grandmas you see in commercials. Grandma Betty was a Beatles fan, she was rock and roll. She had four boys and one girl and grandma has always been a whirlwind all on her own. She is absolutely beautiful inside and out, and being around her, you know you are loved. Even when you don’t think much of yourself, she will find something about you that you can be proud of.

I got to spend so much time with her when I was a baby and a toddler, she did a lot of babysitting. Apparently we would watch a lot of Wizard of Oz, I would boss around my little brother and we terrorized the cats. Towards my teenage years, my grandparents purchased a houseboat that they kept on the California Delta, and we would spend some weekends during our summers hanging out with them on the boat. We were so silly together, we had so much fun.

After my parents got divorced, we saw less and less of my grandparents, eventually they moved out of state and there were bigger gaps of time between visits. After I got married, we started going to my grandparent’s for Thanksgiving, and although it was short trips once a year, it was wonderful spending time with them.

Then grandma fell

My grandfather passed away in 2010, we made a point of going out to see grandma once or twice a year, she’s a strong woman and she was doing okay. Early 2021, grandma was bringing the dog in from the backyard, caught her foot on the rug and fell, head first into a wall. Sure, we joke that she likes using her life-alert so she can meet the cute firemen, but after that fall, she looked like she had been in a bar fight! We joke “you should see what the other guy looks like!”

My father and step-mother made a decision to sell the house, close his business and move in with grandma. My step-mom had been caring for grandma after her fall, but she needed to also be packing up the house. I packed up my small embroidery machine with supplies, the homeschool gear, and the kids and I took a road trip to Arizona! We spent almost the entire month of February with grandma and got to celebrate her 90th birthday with her. It was a wonderful time hanging out and talking with her about whatever we wanted to talk about. More important, my kids were spending so much time with her! Grandma has a thing for game shows, and my kids would just go and cuddle with her on the couch. When it came time to leave, we were all pretty emotional.

We got to spend another 5 weeks with her in June that year and although it was crazy hot, 120 degrees! We had an amazing time hanging out, going to the pool, reading books and baking. I thought a lot about how much time my kids spend with their own grandparents (that’s a lot of time) and I was so thankful they were getting to know my grandma and love her just as much as I do.

Grandparents are so important

I would love to throw statistics out here to show how important the role of a grandparent is, but honestly, the internet is filled with information difficult to validate. For me personally, I wouldn’t be who I am today without the influence of my grandparents. Even the ones I didn’t get along with so well, they were a wealth of information that we cannot get from school or books! They teach us different dynamics in our relationships, with a perspective on experiences that we no longer have access to.

My grandparents lived through World Wars, were the born on the heels of a pandemic and the height of The Great Depression. They lived through horrible work conditions but some of the best music to ever hit the airwaves. They experienced the end of legal segregation and they watched the Berlin Wall built and fall. My grandparents were not born in the age of the internet, but learned to navigate the web better than some Gen Xers I know. There is so much about life to learn from our grandparents, and I plan to make sure my kids soak up as much knowledge from theirs as I still can from mine.

Do you have a grandma Betty?

If you’re still here, I want to thank you. When I write, it tends to be a jumbled up mess in my head, but I know that if I’ve cried a little while I’m getting it all down, I’m on the right track. Not crying in frustration, but with the love and passion I have for you, to share my thoughts and experiences. So I want to know, do you have a grandma Betty? Do you have an amazing grandparent that helped to shape your life? Did you grow up without grandparents but a surrogate showed up at just the moment you needed them? Let me know so I can celebrate them with you!

Until next time and thank you for being a friend…

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