A few years ago, my next door neighbor, Betty Wallace said, “I want you to write my obituary.” GEEZ, I thought, how morbid. She had long read my writing in the newspaper and wanted me to offer her the same care I’d offered my travel tales and remembrances, but I didn’t have a long history with her, I didn’t think I knew her that well, however I wanted to comply. I want to comply.
Betty died Tuesday at the age of 94. The call came unexpectedly. I knew her life was waning, but unexpected nonetheless. As I sat down to absorb the information I was called to remembrance.
Soon after she asked I took a pad over to her house and kind of interviewed her about her life. She was born in 1926 in Dixon, Ky, the only child of Wayne Crowe and Addie Jackson Crowe. She graduated with a B.S and Masters degree in Physical Education from U.K. and was a P.E. teacher in both Florida and Kentucky. She enjoyed her time as a member of Ogden United Methodist Church, the DAR, Princeton Art Guild and as a Caldwell County Hospital Volunteer.
She met her husband Bill, on a blind date and they ultimately settled in western Kentucky where she made fierce friendships. The funny thing was when I’d ask her more specific questions, she’d say, “Hmmmm?— I don’t really remember.” There goes our obituary. But, I have my memories and today that’s what I offer.
I use the word fierce, because she was! Her personality could be tough, sometimes complaining and demanding, but oddly she never saw herself that way. We became friends solely because she willed it. I had long loved one of her best friends, Frances Hayes, and every time we ran into each other we made a big fuss, a big annoying fuss no matter who was around. Betty was often around. Well, Betty made mention that I never made a a fuss over her like I did Frances. That was true. Betty was not warm and fuzzy, She was quite an acquired taste, but she kept demanding that I pay attention to her.
I remember one day I finally responded, OK! next time I see you I’m going to kiss you on the mouth! We laughed and laughed. From that day forward, every time I saw her I made a fuss. It made her so happy and it cost me nothing to be kind— nothing.
When she began to wind down she’d drive, literally drive across the street to check her mail. Her legs were giving out. I saw her at the mail box one day and said, hey!— give me your extra key and I’ll check your mail for you and with that we began daily visits. She seemed to look forward to them like Christmas. Again, those little visits cost me nothing but time and seemed to mean the world to her.
She’d regale visitors with memories of Bob and Gerry Finley, Trice and Ada Lou Hughes, Jim and Frances Hayes— dance parties, Christmas breakfasts, golf games, travels and UK basketball. She loved her lunches with the gals. I remember Jane Hall, Nancy Baker, Janice Stevens, and more. Her life hadn’t included children. She and Bill had been declined as candidates for adoption, and looking back on it, I can see that she created her family. Her friendship was selective, deeply loyal and fierce.
On Christmas Eve, 2018, she fell and things really changed. I’d just come home from a party and saw the ambulance in her driveway. I ran over there, saw her inside and just hopped in the ambulance to see what’s what. “Are you a relative?” they asked. “Yes!” I said. And now that I think of it, I guess I was. Through dint of will she’d included me into her makeshift family. And that’s what remains. She leaves behind her cousin from Henderson, Tanna Duncan; her caretaker and housekeeper, Jamie Bates; her closet friend and boon companion, Sally Whittington; her Methodist Women’s circle led by Dixie Broadfoot who lovingly called her “Boop.” There are many more whose names elude me, but she leaves them, too. And she leaves me.
God speed, dear girl. May heaven include a jar of exotic olives for your cocktails and the perfect summer peach.
May we all, who loved her, remember her well today.
There are no services scheduled. Goodman Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.
With loving thanks for being my friend,