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10 March 2017

Mom’s Australian Hat from her visit in 1992

the passing on                                                                                                                                  from one generation to another
an object
a beloved object
my mother gave me                                                                                                                      too many objects
I wear them
I remember her
but there are so many
Is any one special
was any her favourite
no way to know

Today’s your birthday, Mom. I wish we could celebrate together.

Love,                                                                                                                                           Pamela


1 March 2017

I remember.  The final day I had with you Mom.  1 March 2011.  I was there when you opened your eyes, looked at me and your grandson Nathan and then closed your eyes forever.  A few days earlier you had asked me if you were dying.  I said yes and that everything was taken care of, you could go in peace.  And you did.

Yesterday I got out your blue jean jacket with the patches from one of your trips to Africa.  You sewed all the patches and embroidered the outline of the African continent on the back of the jacket.

Mom's Africa Jacket

                     Mom’s Africa Jacket

I live surrounded by you.  Whenever I go out, I open up the drawers with your jewelry and choose something to wear.  Bracelets, necklaces, so many to choose from.

You are always with me and will be forever.

With love,



The weight of


on my finger


middle and little

A golden ring

an amber stone

from my mother


Today wearing

her Egyptian gold necklace

her gold and jade bracelet

her gold bangles

and the heavy weight ring


A couple from Perth

I offer to take their photo

No selfies please

in front of the red and white

recycled, solar lit

Year of the Monkey


at the Australian National Library.

They commented

on my jewelry

I was pleased

someone noticed


My mother left it to me

knowing I had none

Influencing my behavior

from beyond death

No grave


and a wind sculpture

memorial to her

in a Kansas City park.

I wear her jewelry

in her memory


The Chinese woman

from Perth told me

Treasure that bracelet

Jade plus gold



Back at home

I remember her words

as I remove the

gold and amber ring

from my finger

with soap

Mom Golden jewelry
                        My mom, some years ago,                                                                   wearing her amber and gold jewelry

Bette Hutchison Silver, photo taken November 2010

Bette Hutchison Silver, November, 2010


I wasn’t there

for her birth day

March 10 1922

How could I be?

I am her daughter

I was there

for her death day

March 1 2011


I was there

when she asked

am I dying?

I was there

to tell her

yes, she was dying

I was there

to tell her

not to worry

everything was

taken care of

She could go

leaving us behind



Bette Snidow Hutchison and Pamela, 1945

Bette Snidow Hutchison and Pamela, 1945

Bette Hutchison Silver (date 1996?)

           Bette Hutchison Silver (date? 1996)
Photos of Bette Hutchison Silver at various stages of her life. Upper left is with her two daughters, Lonna on left, Pamela on right.

Photos of Bette Hutchison Silver at various stages of her life. Upper left is with her two daughters, Lonna on left, Pamela on right.

The death of my mother

Inspired me

Death inspired me?

To start a blog

Supposedly in her memory

Supposedly to somehow

keep her alive forever

What is it really about?

About me

My mortality


What have I created?

My son asks me

He sees the terror

of the world every day

He feels the anxiety

the people he knows

and doesn’t know

who have died

He thinks about the people

I taught in Afghanistan

who are now dead

What did literacy do for them

What did learning do for them

In the face of violence

Mass murder


They are dead

I came in with words

And I am alive

But they are dead

Did my intervention somehow

Bring death?

Was I part of the invading army

although I thought

I was just bringing words?

Morning sun burning away fog, Tucacas, Venezuela

Morning sun burning away fog, Tucacas, Venezuela


Me and My mom at the Grand Canyon

 Me and my mom  Bette Hutchison Silver                                at the Grand Canyon


Even though you’re gone

you are still

brightening my life


What bracelets


shall I wear today?

I never thought

about it before

until my mother

left me all her


in a handwritten note

attached to her will.

She knew I had none

Had not really wanted any

Yet I enjoy choosing


from her

of her

to wear every day


My mom's jewelry

My mom’s jewelry

Happy Birthday Mom.

I miss you!

My mom Bette Hutchison Silver (name before her first marriage was Snidow) often told me that she grew up in an art gallery – the William Rockhill Nelson Gallery in Kansas City, Missouri.

Her family was struggling to maintain themselves in the working class. Her stepfather was a butcher. Bette was an only child.

Every Saturday morning her mother, Irene Higginbotham, gave Bette Jo a quarter (25 cents) for the day. Bette Jo would ride the bus to the William Rockhill Nelson Gallery (5 cents each way) and would have 15 cents for lunch. Bette Jo would spend the entire day wandering around the gallery.

According to her, my mom barely made it through high school. She attended almost every high school in Kansas City Missouri because the family moved frequently. Every time the rent came due and they could not pay, they moved again. Bette Jo was born in 1922, so she was growing up during the Great Depression in the USA.

As far as I know, my mom had no formal art training yet she became an artist. She was a greeting card illustrator for Hallmark Cards

Painting by Bette Silver

Painting by Bette Silver

Pansies by Bette Silver

Pansies by Bette Silver

in the early days when cards were drawn and painted by hand. Most of the illustrators were young women.  J. C. Hall the founder of Hallmark Cards watched over the young women and often visited and chatted with them.

When my mom got married in 1944, my father Lon Hutchison insisted she stop working at Hallmark Cards. As a true patriarch, he insisted that no wife of his would be working outside the home. They were struggling to survive on my father’s earnings as a paper carrier for the Kansas City Star newspaper, but he would not allow my mom to work.

All of her life, my mom enjoyed the William Rockhill Nelson Art Gallery, attended all most every special exhibition, and often visited the collections on display. She also supported the Kansas City Art Institute. She worked tirelessly for several years on the annual Fireside Auction, which was a major fundraiser for the Kansas City Art Institute.

Memories of Bette as artist continue in our house in Canberra. We have some of her work on display on our walls. Check out the photos in this blog.

Painting of a baby by Bette Silver

Painting of a baby by Bette Silver

I miss you Mom!

Mazatlan Seascape sketches by Bette Silver

Mazatlan Seascape sketches by Bette Silver


Mazatlan Landscape Sketches by Bette Silver

Mazatlan Landscape Sketches by Bette Silver


Painted rocks by Bette Silver

Painted rocks by Bette Silver

Pamela (left) on the ferry from Sydney to Manly, Australia

Pamela (left) on the ferry from Sydney to Manly, Australia


Took the ferry to Manly

Last time on

the ferry to Manly

was 20 years ago

with my mother

Thinking of her

Becoming harder

to tap into

my feelings

of grief

of loss

Am I sealing part of myself off?

Am I trying to protect myself?

To get on with life

yet not feeling anything deeply?

Am I going into slow motion?

Waking up in the morning

more of a chore

Have to motivate myself

Get up

Do some stretches

Ageing brings aches and pains

that don’t go away

Can remember when

I had unlimited energy

Now the stiffness takes work

Moving takes work

Keeping up my level of energy

takes work

More emotional energy required


Miss you mom

Did you have to struggle

with aches and pains

20 years ago

while we were traveling

around Australia?

Bette Silver's Hat with badges from her visit to Australia 1992

Bette Silver’s Hat with badges from her visit to Australia 1992

I don’t remember

you ever complaining

Miss you mom

Surely I can just

call you up

and you will be there

Bette Silver, Botanical Gardens, San Francisco, California

Bette Silver, Botanical Gardens, San Francisco, California

Pamela Collett, Bette Silver’s daughter, mirror image, Nairobi, Kenya

Is it inevitable


Over time

The blog

Is less about

My mother

And more about me?

Am I losing her

Forgetting her

Who she is


Am I becoming


More like her

Giving me

More freedom

To be me

Lawrence Andre, grandson,  in Kansas City:

A few months ago, when heading to the zoo, we (Lawrence Andre, grandson, Henry, great-grandson) drove by Granny’s (Bette Silver) house to remember her and see what has changed. I was shocked at the new paint job. The awnings aren’t up and it just looked so different. Kind of sad, but time does keep moving on, doesn’t it?

Pamela Collett, daughter, in Nairobi, Kenya:

Although I am shrinking inside just thinking about your words, I would like to see a  photo.

623 Greenway Terrace, when Bette Silver lived there






623 Greenway Terrace April 2012















Nathan Collett, grandson, in Nairobi, Kenya

Things move on… I would almost rather not know. Not in a bad way, just that the door is closed. It’s sad in the sense that our family is so small… And Grandma was the hub of it for me. Life moves on. For me, in the end, it was good, because she went out with dignity.

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