The date was, March 28th, 2015…
Bette, affectionately known as “Nan” and “Great Nanny”, quietly sat on her sofa.
While the retreating sunlight reflected off of her face, she soaked in her surroundings.
I admiringly observed her face — watching her expression change as she listened to all the sounds, the laughter, the discussions, and the stories coming from her 6 children, 9 grandchildren, and 1 great grandchild.
This was not just a home. This place was something so much more.
I couldn’t help but notice a spark of adventure in her 82 year old kind eyes.
Her weathered hands bearing witness to the enchanting life she lived.
The lines on her face whispering tales of heartache, hope, joy, celebration, hardships, and
being alive and living well.
This is just a glimpse of her story.
Many years ago…
A teenage boy left his home in Scotland
and a young girl left her home in Canada to come to America.
The two married, and then, just like the start to a beautiful, magical, fairytale–a special gift arrived.
On Christmas Eve, 1932, in Boston, Massachusetts, a beautiful soul took her very first breath.
Her journey – was just beginning.
She tells of stories from her childhood. Of a time spent with her siblings, early morning trips to the train station to pick up her father from work and the life-changing moment–at 18–when she left home with her best friend to enlist in the marines.
Alone, she took those first steps toward independence, launching herself into every wave that came her way.
Then on Friday, July 13th, 1951,
she stepped off a train and set her eyes on Arthur, for the first time
(He was only there checking out the BAMS, as he called them–Broad Ass Marines) :).
Four months later, on November 21st, the two were married.
Bette, still moving confidently in the direction of her dreams, eventually left the marines as a Sergeant to begin the next chapter in her life…
in 10 years
which was nothing compared to boot camp, she claims.
Bette didn’t just parent her children. She gave her family every part of her.
She ran her husband’s business, office, and did his bookkeeping. She ran her home and ran it well. She actively participated in all her children did, were involved in, and still got a hot meal on the table at the end of every day.
She was always available and present when needed.
Then came the grandchildren and her outpouring of love continued.
Bette didn’t just sit back and enjoy finally being free from her responsibilities–Her house was always open for each one of them. She played with her grandchildren, enjoyed them, spoiled them and her house became their home away from home. She is talked about as being the, “Best grandmother you could ask for.”
She worked for all the years ahead, she worked for things that were invisible in the moment — the day in and day out quality time spent with each of her children and grandchildren, building relationships.
She worked for the things that would shape each of her children’s lives and their children’s lives so they could become something more than they could have ever been without her.
There has been heartache, there has been pain, hurt, hardship…
but there has been love, so much love
so much joy
and Bette has truly lived each season, as it has passed by.
As Oscar Wilde has said,
“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people just exist-that is all.”
Bette (Nan) has done just that.
and her journey doesn’t end here….