Betty Lou



My wife’s mother passed in her sleep Friday night. She had been fighting some health problems for the past couple of years and seemed to have them under control recently, right up until we received the early morning phone call that we all know will come but are never prepared for. She was a remarkable woman with a heart as big as…well, how big can a heart be. She will be sorely missed.

Michelle is taking it particularly hard as she and her mother had an uncommonly close bond. Losing her father to a boat racing accident at the age of two and with her older brother and sister mostly grown and starting their own lives, it was just the two of them until her mother remarried six years later. She inherited her mothers mischievous, passionate personality and they were co-conspirators in living life to the fullest right to the end. She visited just last weekend for mother’s day and we listened as they sat alone by a fire on the beach, speaking softly and laughing loudly of adventures that they had shared when even after her remarriage, it was just the two of them against a world that couldn’t quite keep up. Tales of Michelle at age seven arranging to aquire and board a horse without her new step fathers knowledge, until he recieved the first months stable bill. He was understandably furious, but Betty negotiated a stay of execution and Michelle got off with a few weeks of restriction. Of secreting a large goose she found wandering a field on the way home from school into her room, begging and receiving her mothers reluctant approval in keeping it, and how that goose escaped from her room, noisily and filthily infiltrating an important business meeting her step father was holding in the living room. Of her mother catching her with her boyfriend “in the act” as a teenager and instead of being angry, laughing hysterically until the boy in question fled in humiliation. Partners in the crime of life, and although one is now departed from this world, partners still forever.

Rest well Betty Lou. Until one fine day, we meet again.


15 responses to “Betty Lou

  1. I hope Michelle reads your blog. It’s beautiful. I constantly wonder how someone who can be so mean spirited politically can also be so beautifully sensitive. Mark, you’ve been a mystery to me but as my first born, you will always be special. Please give Michelle a big hug for me. She’s special too.

    • Thanks Mom. I think you’re special too.
      If you percieve me as being mean it is because you raised me as a liberal rather than a democrat, and I have remained one, while the rest of my family seemingly has chosen to travel the path of Leftism and frankly it pisses me off. I watch as the current crop of dems and those who support them lead us inevitably toward a European style of social democratic government, as that very system is ripping itself apart and destroying the countries involved, and I just don’t understand how anyone could advocate us following the same path.

  2. Mark, I’m so sorry– and I only know you through your blog. Condolences to Michelle– sounds like her mom did the job of raising her with maximum good humor. Hang on to that heritage.

    And Mom, Mark isn’t mean-spirited– he’s just appalled and frustrated by the direction the country is taking, as are a lot of us former liberals who’ve seen the party move far to the left of where it was. But we’re still sincere, good-hearted people, and admirers of your son’s writing style and opinions. That sensitivity you admire comes through in all his writings. Be proud of him for braving the overwhelmingly liberal atmosphere he lives and works in, and keeping his own voice–

  3. Thanks for the condolences and kind words Al.
    Betty was one of a kind, that’s for sure.

  4. Prayers for you, Michelle, and Betty Lou.

  5. Thanks Gerard.

    She personified the old saying of giving anyone she cared for the shirt off her back. Ten shirts actually as she had been a compulsive shopper of sorts in her earlier days! Always for others though. If she saw a shirt that she thought a friend might like for a birthday present or such, she would buy ten similar with the intention of giving them over time. By their next birthday of course, she would have found something else she thought they would like even better and buy ten of those. One was never enough of anything. It’s going to be a doozy of an estate sale.

  6. My condolences to the both of you on your loss, Mark.

  7. Condolences to the family, Mark. Well said.

  8. Mark,

    Damn it.

    I just checked back after being super busy the last few days, and just saw this.

    I’m so sorry to hear about Betty. I know how Michelle was with her mom; she was a awesome woman. My condolences to all of you guys and Wally.

    Yeah, some of the best holidays of my adult life were spent at your house with Betty presiding. When she started telling a story, it usually ended with me laughing so hard that I would be crying.

    I still think one of the best stories ever was when your boys were just a couple of years old and they were waiting in the car and Betty got out to open the garage door, and when she stepped between the car and the garage door, I think it was Spencer that put the car in gear and pinned her at the knees to the door! I think she got kind of banged up, but she was laughing so hard as she was telling the story, that she could hardly finish. Man she was funny when she got going.

    All my best to Michelle, I hope she is doing OK.

    Holidays are never going to be the same.


    • Thanks for reminding me of that story. Good thing his legs weren’t long enough to reach the gas pedal!

      Spencer and cars don’t seem to mesh. Remember in Mexico when the car door flew open and he was walking in air, suspended between the seat and the door handle. I almost had a heart attack!

      Betty will be missed. She was one of a kind.

  9. OMG, as I was the one who pulled Spencer back into the car, I certainly do remember the Mexico incident. My heart hasn’t been the same since.
    Betty certainly was a pistol. We spent time with she and wally in Palm Springs when Lou Milholland was still alive. The six of us were a group to be reckoned with. Bob is still angry at Lou. He wasn’t through with her.

  10. Condolences to you and yours, Mark. Losing a parent is hard regardless but I can only imagine how much more difficult it is if you are close to them. Sounds as though your wife has wonderful memories of her mother, though, to sustain her. A small thing to be grateful for, to be sure, in the face of this, but something to be grateful for nonetheless.

  11. It sounds as if all of you were incredibly lucky to have been able to share your Mother’s Day together at the beach with a fire and with many memories of old. It seems a very fitting way to be able to close this chapter of life.

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