2005 February 11


Riverside, California

Through my sadness and grief this past week, I kept thinking about what I would say to Bette if I could. My thoughts flowed freely, memories converged. So finally I wrote these thoughts and memories down in the form of a letter. I'd like to dedicate this letter now tot he spirit of Bette and the very lovely Pinkerton family and extended family.

My Dearest Bette,

You have been God's gift to me for 27 years. How fortunate I've been to have you in my life that length of time. We met as new teachers at Castle View, both 34 years old, with children the same age and sisters the same age. Together we weathered the intricacies of our school, created lesson plans, developed curriculum, and got to know each other more personally in hurried center room chats. During that time you taught my child for two years and I loved the way you jokingly took credit for all the positives in his life. You were, most definitely, a life long influence on him. When this same child became ill with diabetes, you were there for me throughout, saying the right thing at the right time or listening quietly to my frustrations and fears.

Life moved along so quickly. Our fast friendship soon led to out of school socializing, with the meshing of husbands and children, backyard barbecues and dinners out, raucous beach excursions with 4 children and long, languid lunches on days off. When in the mood, we loved to shop till we dropped. Remember how we'd try on the same outfit, laughing hysterically while doing so, and then argue about which one of us would get to buy it!

Life was good. We were busy, productive young people. Jan joined our school and fit right in with us. The three of us continued the center room chats, processing the ever changing teaching situations and the trials and tribulations of everyday life. Then suddenly, in a minute, or so it seemed, our school age children were teens with a new set of problems requiring endless analysis, critiques of each other's parenting and admonitions to one another to sit back and allow our offspring to blossom in their own unique ways. And they did so. Soon, we witnessed independent young adults pursuing their own lives with integrity, choosing spouses and careers, blessing you and me with precious grandchildren. So we marveled at the wonderful job we'd done and moved on to other issues.

At the Don and Jennifer Webb wedding reception, previous and current members of the "center room chats" pose. Mother-of-the-bride Bette celebrates behind Jan, Kathi, and Barbara Hunt (who Jan replaced), Riverside, 1989. 

(This photograph is repeated on both Jan's and Kathi's page because, after all the years of sharing, this is the only photograph of these three friends together.)

We grew older, and as empty nesters transferred our center room chats to weekly out of school coffee dates. There we bragged about grandchildren, discussed the why's and wherefores of aging, evaluated nutrition and fitness programs, shared travels, processed divorce and husbands' illnesses. It was comforting to know there wasn't a problem that couldn't be solved by the three of us over a good cup of coffee at Jammin' Bread. We laughed readily and easily, too, always our own best audience, knowing that for some issues, laughter was the best medicine. With all our talking and analyzing we were ready for action at a moment's notice. When my husband Vic became ill, you and Jan supervised the decorating of our home and along with other friends executed the physical aspects of our remodeling project. I'm so grateful to you for that. Our home will bear your personal mark forever.

Now Jan and I will have to carry on our golden years without you. We will manage because we know you would want us to do so. I am sorry that the three of us never got to take that trip to Ireland you so wanted to do.

Bette, you filled my life with beauty, joy and grace. I thank you for loving me unconditionally with tender gentleness and quiet understanding. I will remember you as my friend who did even the ordinary of life in an extraordinary way. You used to say, "I need to perc about things before I know what I think." Well, I want you to know your "percing" always produced a perfect brew. 

Now the world will be darker and sadder without your golden glow of radiance to brighten its day, but I know you've carried this golden glow to the angels in heaven and you are there with them, dancing, dancing, a smile on your face. Dear friend, heart of my heart, soul of my soul, in the days ahead, I will take comfort in that.

My deepest love,