Friday, February 2, 2007

Memoriam (A Day Late)

I am aware that my mom named me Elizabeth after her great-grandmother, however, I never met her and so I've always pretended that I was named after my great-grandmother's sister, Aunt Betty.
You see, when I was a little, I hated the name Elizabeth. I didn't feel like an Elizabeth. To me, Elizabeths were prissy, goody-goody girls who wore pink and didn't like to get dirty. At a very young age, I was determined to legally change my name to Liza just as soon as I was old enough.
Then we went on this really long trip, Colorado, South Dakota, etc. Of course this involved a trip to Nebraska (we were ALWAYS going to Nebraska). While there we stopped in Grand Island to see my mom's great-aunt. I was probably 8 and I expected to be SUPER-bored; we were going to the house of some old lady who I didn't know.
But she wasn't boring. She had about a million yo-yos all over her house (I think she said she had won a yo-yo contest at some point). She was the first to teach me how to use one. She had a keyboard, and taught me a song. It was all really awesome for a little kid. More than all these things though, SHE was really interesting. I had an amazing time talking to her. I liked her so much that, when we got home, I wrote her a letter, and she wrote me back.
I couldn't even tell you what we wrote about, but we wrote to each other quite often. We would always start it "Dear Elizabeth," and sign it "Love, Elizabeth." Amazing that a little girl and an 80-something woman could find something to write about so often. I do remember very clearly one piece of advice she gave me though, "Never let anyone call you 'Betty', because then you'll be an old lady and people will still call you that, and it will seem really silly to you."
In addition to her letters to me, Aunt Betty wrote weekly letters to several members of the family including my mom. I liked to read them even though I was really little.

I just found her very interesting. She was the only older woman that I knew that had never been married. Up to that point, I never realized that that could be an option. She was really intelligent, and loved books just as much as I did.
Elizabeth Lorraine Foster died on February 1, 1989. I was almost 12. I have always kept her in my heart. She is the best kind of hero to have because she was real. She was brave, smart, but still lots of fun. She really enjoyed her family, even if it was just some silly little girl, the granddaughter of her nephew.


La Sirena said...

Aunt Betty was a very cool lady. I remember that visit, too. How did she spend so much time with you when she spent so much time talking to me? :D

She also graduated from college at a time few people -- especially women -- did, and she taught Spanish even though she had lost about 1/2 of her hearing. She continued to take continuing ed classes practically until she died. There was a woman who loved learning.

Meander said...

Nice post Liza. I don't remember much about that visit except sitting on the floor in her living room. Then again, I was a pretty self-involved kid mostly. Since that was the trip I turned nine and Jen broke her arm I was probably playing with my fake Cabbage Patch Kid.

emc said...

I remember that Aunt Betty had a drawer in her kitchen (always full) of Kit-Kat bars... anyone with a drawer devoted *solely* to Kit-Kat Bars is A-OK in my book!