Leave it to Facebook to be the main component that would reconnect my cousin Bettye Sue and me. Not long after we reconnected, my mother’s health began a major decline. Bettye Sue and I spoke on the phone a handful of times and I would give her updates.
When Mom passed away March 11th, 2012, I made a trip up to Antioch to be with my brothers, sister-in-law Debbie and stepdad Pete. There was no service of any kind; just an opportunity for us to grieve together. Bettye Sue came and saw us at the house, and although sad circumstances, it was nice to see her again and have time to visit.
Her daughters were grown, and she had several grandchildren. Still petite, stylish — and yes, cool — I thought she resembled my Aunt Berniece. She had a nice man in her life, and drove a Mazda Miata.
Unbeknownst to me at that time, my little brother Brian was slowly become disengaged from me; he hadn’t been happy with the way in which I seemed to sail through my mother’s heart attacks, stroke and eventual demise. He and I cried together my first night in Antioch, but after that meltdown, I became more accepting of the situation and was mostly there for the others. Looking back, I am certain that one of the things that really stuck in Brian’s craw was how well Bettye Sue and I connected. She and I interacted with the rest of the family that afternoon, but there was a certain sisterhood that could not be denied.
That was the last I saw of Bettye Sue in person, but we have stayed connected on Facebook and spoken a few times on the phone. Within a year of my mother’s death she had the horrific experience of losing her daughter Jacqueline to illness. Within a year of that, Bettye Sue also lost her own mother, my Aunt Berniece.
Through his own choice, Brian’s and my estrangement continues. Having loving and supportive cousins in my life — cousins that I find I have more in common with than my siblings — has helped heal the wounds. I got a chance to hang out with Bettye Sue’s daughter Erin and her new husband when they were in San Diego a little over a year ago, and it turned out to be a most enjoyable evening. Although, she reminded me of her mother in some ways, it was clear she was truly her own person, with her own life experiences.
I am hoping to have the opportunity to see Bettye (I’ve pretty much dropped the Sue since Mom died) and Erin — who both live in Northern California — again someday, hopefully sooner than later. If it never happens, there is always Facebook, the phone, and most of all, a lot of great memories.