More Memories of Betty

CHRISTMAS 1972 —This was perhaps Betty's favorite photo of her children. In taking the very faded 8x10 out of the frame (we ended up scanning through glass because the paper had fused), we found the following information in Betty's own handwriting:

Dec. 1972
Debra — Almost 14 (Jan. 16)
Robby — 10-1/2 (Aug. 2)
Andy — 6-1/2 (June 3)
Kelly — Almost 3 (Jan. 19)
Sheldon – 2-1/2 months (Sept. 24)

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Words of Love


Betty, "Did you ever know that you're my hero, someone that I depend upon?"

Sparkling Betty prepares for a costume party.

October, 1982.

The most intelligent woman I've ever known is Betty Barbano. She had an insight and a way of looking at life that simply could not be compared to the average person. Her wit and humor and the way she used both to accomplish everything from a small routine task to handling life's tragedies went far beyond mere mortal expectations.

It didn't stop with her own life and interests, either. She spread that wit, humor, and knowledge to anyone who'd listen. She had a knack for doing it without getting in your face, it was subtle, quiet, complex and yet simple. She was living proof and a role model that you could go on and be of value long after you'd faced the ultimate tragedy.

At a time, years ago, when I was so low that I felt I'd surely was Betty who brought me out of my depression, gave me courage to set life changing goals, then validated me every step of the way. Whether she was 'walking' me around the football field near our homes in Northwest Reno, or sending me cards, emails, or on the phone from 3000 miles away, I could always count on her support and wisdom.

She taught me to 'take life, fifteen minutes at a time', instead of bundling my problems into unmanageable mountains, she encouraged me to think outside the box, and she showed me that there is humor in all things if you just look at a situation in the right way. Betty could laugh at the face of danger and fear - even tragedy...and yet she was understanding of those who needed more support.

Betty was like a second 'mother' to my daughter, Zoe. In fact she played a very large role in that nickname and helping it 'stick'. Betty was family.

I never wanted to see her more than on Tuesday night when I got the call from Andy, saying she was gone. Gone? How could a force like Betty be gone? How could she not be there when I needed her for advice, encouragement, or just for the fun of hanging out with her and hearing her witty jokes?

I felt a great loss, a sadness that I'm sure will come upon me from time to time always...I awoke many times during the night in tears. On Wednesday I called work and told them I would not be in. I spent much of Wednesday recalling our many conversations over the years and rereading her cards and letters that I'd saved. At one point on Wednesday, as I held the last birthday card she'd sent me, I shouted aloud..."Okay Betty, you always said you got messages from those you'd gone before you...send me one NOW!" The silence that followed was almost deafening.

Betty was a very spiritual person and she'd often told me that just when she'd be needing to hear from her daughter Debbie or her Mother, both who'd passed already...she'd open a drawer and there'd be an old note or photo and she firmly believed they'd sent her a response from beyond. I'd contemplate it and because I'm open minded, I'd say - okay, could be.

On my way to work this morning, I turned the radio on. The announcer said a few words, then a song began to play, one that I'd never heard before. As I listened to the words, a smile forced its way across my face and a feeling of something bigger than myself seemed to make its presence. The lyrics to the song: "If a Tree Falls In the Forest, Would Anybody Hear?" Aloud I said, "Okay, proved your point!" The card I'd held in my hand yesterday, as I yelled for a sign from Betty that she was still somewhere, was a wacky funny card...her usual. It read: "If a woman your age falls in the forest, would anybody hear?"

I love you Betty, thanks for still being here for me and for the others in your life.

Sparks, Nevada


Dear Andy: I was deeply saddened to hear about Betty. As I told you I have been really sick with the flu myself (I am hoping I can make it tomorrow) but while I was resting yesterday morning, I had some really pleasant thoughts of Betty. It was odd because I hadn't thought about Betty in a long time.

LAND OF THE GIANTS — Betty and two of her little boys, Andrew (left) and Sheldon, circa 2002.

Deep in my heart, I knew something had happened because my feelings were rather unusual. I know that Betty came to me to say goodbye. I felt a very deep sense of happiness and peace. Although I have not spoken to Betty in a very long time I know that Betty and I are (and will continue to be) connected spiritually.

I know that she is OK, Andy. In my thoughts she was strong and healthy...and full of her usual love. She will give you the strength that you need to get through this experience. Ask her to help you and she will be there for you. Betty was an extraordinary person and a very special soul.

I will do my best to come to be with you tomorrow but I have this awful flu and I have been as sick as a dog. My son is sick as well. If I don't make it, I will send my thoughts of love and strength to you. I know that you will find the strength to continue to live. Betty wants you to continue to live Andy. Someday you will be with her again. Remember that she is not gone... she is always there in your heart.

I do feel so sad that time beat us all. Isn't it awful that the years flew by and we did not see each other? I thought of both of you many times with love and fondness. Now you have my e-mail address and I yours we must stay in touch.

Although we have not spoken in a long time, please know that my love and friendship for you and Betty never weakened. Know that I am always here for you. Now is the time to call on your dearest of friends.

Hopefully I will see you tomorrow. God Bless.

Pam (Quilici) Peri
Yerington, Nevada

Dear Andy,

Thank you for your kind words. I know Betty would want us all to be joyful now, because she always did want that. Betty taught me how to laugh and feel joy, even in the worst of times, when nobody else could.

When my mother was undergoing treatment for cancer thousands of miles away, Betty became my second mother (or Mater Deux, as she often signed herself in letters). We cooked and ate many wonderful meals together, we watched TV, played games, and most of all talked about everything. It's natural to feel depressed when someone you love is ill, but Betty helped me adjust my perspective to see love not as a liability, but as a strength. She told me that my love could make my mother stronger and help her to get better. In general, she taught me that love is as real and strong a force as gravity. She buoyed my spirits, she shared her wisdom and her deep spirituality, she introduced me to the novels of Douglas Adams (a very fine act!).

Betty, with her Dadaist sense of humor, her many posters of Charles Barkley, and her huge collection of earrings for special occasions (including tooth-themed ones for visits to the dentist), was the best practical joker I have ever known. At one time we were engaged in a battle to see who could send the weirdest object, unpackaged but covered in stamps, through the U.S. Mail. Once, she sent me a shoe; another time, I sent her a dog's squeaky rubber toy in the shape of a hamburger. I don't know what delighted Betty more, surprising me or weirding out the postman. Her seriousness, too, was of the best kind: she was a loyal, steadfast friend who didn't shy from heart-to-heart talks; she was more acutely aware than most of the suffering life can bring, but over the years she always reminded me to embrace the best in myself and others, to delight in the mysteries of outer space and the natural world, and to take the humor in things as much to heart as the horror in things. She was the best exemplar of her own ethos. And she was an eminently open-minded person who was far less interested in whether something was fashionable or widely accepted than in whether it was true.

Betty was and is a tremendous influence in my life. Although I am so saddened that she is gone, I know that if she was right about souls and the afterlife we will talk again. Betty, I miss you and I love you. I'll always remember the times we spent together, and I'll always look to your example and find love and humor in my memories of you. Frogs forever!


(Somewhere at an eastern university)


Dear Zoe:

I told tales of you at Betty's memorial, especially the story of the red, white and blue steamed rice.*

Betty saw magnificence in you and you have proven her more than right with each passing year.

Continue to honor her by continuing to magnify your magnificent gifts. I'll do all I can to assist future launches of your starships.

Be joyful for Betty Joyce.

Be well. Raise hell.


* Betty's way of teaching how to think outside the box.

I wish I was talented as a writer but I'm just an ordinary girl from Kansas. But a big part of me died this week. My feelings, my thoughts, my inner most being will never be the same. My rock is gone. My sister, Betty, went to Heaven this week. There were several there that she loved to greet her. Debbie. I think she thought she had been there long enough without her. I can remember when our Mother was about to pass Betty asked Mom to take care of her babies (she had lost in miscarriages). She would say " just take care of them til I get there." We talked once, years ago, about how Mom and Debbie were together. I wouldn't dare to start listing the ones she is celebrating with now, but they are in my thoughts.

Betty cared about other people....even when she wasn't feeling well she would call and check on me. She gave me better advice about my health than any doctor could. She was always recommending alternative medicine so I could get off whatever I was on. Most of the time it worked. When I had to go back she'd say "oh well, we tried".

Betty could always make me laugh. She had an animated comeback for any situation. Once she rolled her van on a deserted curve (in the desert I think) When the officer asked for her drivers license she inadvertently handed him her American Express card. When he brought it to her attention ...her reply..."Oh that, I never leave home without it" I know in the nights to come I'll remember more. She advised me once to always keep a notepad by my bed. On that pad I'll write when more thoughts come. Right now, as I write, I can close my eyes and hear her voice. No mistaking who she was on the phone. Also I can see her...I always pictured her when I needed her..even when I couldn't get her on the phone. She was just the most unique and talented person I'll ever know. And she was my sister!! I loved her and she loved me. I can hear her right now. I wish I could say it helps the hurt I'm feeling but nothing does.

I'm in Texas taking care of my daughter, Vandi, but as soon as I get home I can hardly wait to get my pictures out ....oh God I need to see her.

I'm sorry. Perhaps this is not the right time for me to write my memories. Guess I was only thinking of myself.

Andrew...I do have to tell you this. I am thanking God she had you (and you her). I never saw two people complement each other the way you two did. In thoughts and actions. She loved you so very much and told me so .. often. You absolutely made her life complete.

Every life Betty touched, she made a difference.

Carolyn Powers
Newton, Kansas

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