This is one of my favorite photos of her. She is about nine. She told me that she didn't really need those glasses she is wearing, but that she liked the way glasses looked, and besides, no one in her class had glasses. So she faked her eye exam, and got herself some glasses. They made her feel special, until another kid in her class got them, too. So she stopped wearing them. That story has always made me laugh, and explained a lot about my own kids.
She was orphaned very young, and grew up on her grandparent's farm. It wasn't an easy life, and I think she was often lonely, but it gave her a life-long love of the outdoors, and an incredible work ethic. (She also had a soft spot for dogs.)
She was a teacher. She taught sixth grade for many years. She loved those kids, the age they were; the fact that they were on the cusp of adulthood, but were still kids. She was a hard teacher, and very old school. But I remember her students from years past coming to our door and ringing the doorbell, just to say hi to her, so she must have been the right kind of tough. She coached baseball and ruled the playground with an iron fist (and a whistle) when she was on duty. Never mess with a farm girl.
Although she missed getting to see everyone this Christmas, it was a pretty good showing and we were happy to have this last time together.
Most of all, to us, Betty Lou was a loving mom and grandma. We'll miss her stirring things up, and calling us each to task. No one got past her. We knew it, and just got in line. It was her way of letting us know she loved us, and that she was keeping a watchful eye on us all.
Saying good-bye is tough. I'm hoping for some of her farm-girl strength and Texas grit to help me in the coming weeks. I know she'd want that for me.