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Bette Hutchison Silver with her nephew Lawrence Andre

Across continents

Across time

Across consciousness

Across memory



your birthday

in Australia

where I live

Tuesday 10 March

but not yet in

the USA

where you were born

10 March 1922

in Joplin Missouri


Connecting with you

Connecting with family

Opening up




Missing you


Happy Birthday


Celebrating! My mother is floating somewhere in the Pacific Ocean where she wanted to be. She wrote her wishes down and we followed them.

My mother Bette Jo Hutchison Silver died 1 March 2011 in her bed, in her home at 623 Greenway Terrace, Brookside, Kansas City, Missouri. I was there. She had asked me the day before if she were dying. I said yes, and reassured her that all was well.

            Bette Jo Hutchison Silver (date 1996?)

Just before she died she opened her eyes, looked at me. I smiled and told her I loved her, gave her a kiss and she was gone. My son, Nathan Collett, was with us. Her grandson, Lawrence Andre, and his son Henry had said good-bye earlier that day.

My mom left written instructions that she was to be cremated and her ashes spread at Pt. Reyes National Seashore, north of San Francisco, California.   When I lived in the San Francisco Bay area, my mom and I frequently visited Pt. Reyes. One time, we backpacked up a steep hillside to Sky Camp and camped out together in a small tent.

When my nephew Lawrence found out about her wishes, he asked me to wait to distribute her ashes until he could come to California. So I brought her ashes to Oakland, California and set up a small altar to her.


Me in Oakland California with altar to Bette Hutchison Silver

Lawrence lives in Mission, Kansas, just outside Kansas City, Missouri. When my mother died, I was living in Nairobi, Kenya. I moved to Canberra, Australia in 2014. My mother’s ashes waited patiently for us in Oakland, California.

Finally, eight years after her death, we did it. In March 2019, I came from Canberra, Australia. Lawrence with his son Henry came from Kansas City. We met in Oakland, California. On Saturday 13 March 2019, we drove to Pt. Reyes National Seashore.


Bette Hutchison Silver altar at Limantur Beach Pt. Reyes National Seashore


Lawrence Andre and me at Limantur Beach with Bette’s ashes

A blue sky day, warm and windy at Limantur Beach. I read poems and tributes to my mom from family and friends. Then we opened up the box, took out the bag with her ashes and waded into the sea. We took turns throwing handfuls of her ashes into the Pacific Ocean. I threw one handful for my friend Martha. The wind carried the ashes up in an arc, then they dropped down into the ocean.

Opening the box with Bette’s ashes, me, Henry and Lawrence Andre


Me, Henry, and Lawrence wading into the ocean at Limantur Beach

Lawrence suggested that we fill the box that had held her ashes with sand and objects on the beach, including a sand dollar, part of a crab shell, and some small rocks. Now the altar honoring Bette Jo Hutchison Silver is back on the shelf in Oakland, California. Inside the box are memories from our day at Limantur Beach.


We remember you Bette.

We miss you!


29 June 2018


Carpet shampooing

brings change of venue

Moving furniture

to shampoo carpets

Spring cleaning in winter

to welcome VIP visitors

Son and daughter in law

coming from Kenya

Sitting in the kitchen

with my computer

Different outlook

than at my desk


Sometimes I ride the bus

to the Canberra CBD*

or the Kingston public library**

to write

Not for inspiration

but for change

of venue

of thought

If I set out to write

some place other

than at home

I am a writer


What has brought

the most change is

support from two women

in our writers’ group

AND writing the blog

Life Expectancy:

searching for reconciliation***

Reliving the time and travel

to research about my father’s life


Writing the blog

makes the story

the book

I am writing

Life Expectancy

come alive

I recognize

my own commitment

appreciate it

accept it

and will continue

My father W. Lon Hutchison as a young man                  
photograph with artificial colour added


*Central Business District

**Kingston is a neighbourhood in Canberra, Australia

***Life Expectancy is the title of the fictional book I am writing, based on some events in my father’s life

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)


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

Portrait of Bette Hutchison Silver  at what age? not sure

Portrait of Bette Hutchison Silver at what age?   not sure

Her house is no more.  The house still stands in Kansas City, Missouri,  623 Greenway Terrace, but sold and transformed by paint, redecorating, bearing no traces of Bette Hutchison Silver, the wild and wonderful woman who entertained so many people on her screened-in front porch.

Now I am in my mother’s house. Not in Kansas City, Missouri, USA but in Narrabundah, Canberra, Australia.  My mother is everywhere in this house.

21 Carnegie Crescent, Narrabundah, Canberra, Australia

21 Carnegie Crescent, Narrabundah, Canberra, Australia

Over the front door, a metal parrot swings in the wind.  Open the door, a punched tin pie cupboard my mom picked up at a farm sale somewhere.  On top, her Australian hat, with the badges from her trip here in 1992. Next to the hat, the cigar box collage by friend and Kansas City artist Maria Vasquez Boyd.

By the large front windows, a small wooden step stool, a wooden cocktail table, pillows, including a toucan pillow, from my mom.  Nearby a cabinet of treasures from Mexico and Venezuela.

Moving on, small boxes, an antique globe, another footstool with needlepoint mushrooms.  Above my desk scenes of the Kansas prairie, Missouri farm houses in watercolor a long thin horizontal view of a new England town.  To the right of the desk a sisal fibre giraffe from Kenya.

Pie Cupboard near front door. Bette's Aussie hat with badges

Pie Cupboard near front door. Bette’s Aussie hat with badges

Over Jim’s desk, a Missouri landscape by Wilbur Neiwald. Jim’s desk is my mom’s kitchen table, where her grandsons  Lawrence and JJ and then great grandson  Henry decorated Christmas sugar cookies every year.

In the front bedroom, three shelves full of dolls from all over the world, the bed covered by an early American Crazy Quilt.  A wall with her sketches of Mazatlan, Mexico.

In the middle bedroom, an antique humped back trunk, full of memorabilia, family photos, my grade school, high school and university yearbooks.

In the kitchen four hand decorated brown ceramic plates that hung in my mom’s kitchen. I bought them for her in 1968 at Taylor & Ng in San Francisco.

Bette's kitchen table, now a desk

Bette’s kitchen table, now a desk

On the far wall, Mexican ceramic tiles showing a boy with his donkey.  Next to the tiles, a woven hanging of birds in a geometric design.  In the corner cabinet,  family photos of my mom, dad, aunt, grandparents.

In my bedroom closet,  some clothes my mom wore, her shoes (we are the same size),  and clothes she and I picked out together for me on our annual shopping trips to Macy’s in Prairie Village, Kansas.

So this IS my mother’s house.  More than anywhere else in the world, she is still present through all the love and care expressed in the objects she collected and shared with everyone.

Bette's Doll Collection

Bette’s Doll Collection

What’s missing?  No screened-in front porch.

We miss you Bette.



Front cover Goodbye Granny by Lawrence Andre

Want a beautiful, heartfelt book about Bette Hutchison Silver written by her grandson Lawrence Andre?    The book has photos of Bette, friends and family. The front cover is Bette reading to her great-grandson Henry Andre.

You can order Goodbye Granny  online at

Here’s a page from the book:

Page from Goodbye Granny

This page is about the birthday party and memorial for Bette Hutchison Silver, held at her house, 623 Greenway Terrace, Kansas City Missouri,  on March 13 2011.  Bette passed away on March 1, 2011.  Her birthday was March 10, 2011. She would have been 89 years old.  We had a wonderful gathering of friends and family, complete with balloons to let her know we were thinking of her.  Jim Lindsay, her son-in-law, (upper right hand corner) made her a chocolate cake.

Back cover Goodbye Granny, author Lawrence Andre with his grandmother Bette Silver

We miss you Bette.

Thanks Lawrence for the wonderful book!


 Lawrence Andre to Michelle:

I loved your poem on Bette’s blog yesterday. I have a lot of the same memories!!!!! Consider yourself lucky that your daughter Shannon had so much time with her. I always knew that the clock was ticking with my son Henry. (Bette’s great grandson).  While I’ll take the four years that I got, I definitely was hoping for at least twice that many.

During Bette’s life, I never knew about the connection that Bette had with you and Shannon. I’m glad to be discovering more about it after her death. And Pam, thanks again for creating the blog!

Michelle Sikes to Lawrence:

Lawrence, thank you for that. I’m sure that you do have many of those same memories. And those were just the ones I thought of at that moment!! I am so grateful that Bette got to be such an influence in my daughter Shannon’s life – they really did share a special bond. I know that you would wish for years more with her (for yourself and Henry) but you spent so much time with her while she was here and you keep her memory alive with the things you do. That is special.

I have a few years on you so you may not remember but I do remember spending some holidays with you, your brother and your cousins. We would play games downstairs in Bette’s son Lon’s “old room” or outside. I’ll be posting more memories as time goes on… Shannon is still not able to read the blog but I know with time that she will. I’m glad it’s there!! Thanks Pam!

Bette talked often to me about your visits – she was over the moon about her great grandson Henry! All you can do now is listen, learn and share her memory. She was definitely a safe haven for me when I was younger. I regret that I didn’t stay in touch with Pam all these years (but she’s a hard one to track down!) and I am so thankful that we reconnected. Sounds like you and Pamela are close as well, that’s wonderful.

Great Grandson Henry Andre with Bette Silver on her patio

by Michelle Sikes

It’s all about the things you remember…
Thanksgivings and Christmas’ and dinner parties in the dining room
Always sitting at the kids table, Bette would bring our plates
And just to coax us into making sure we ate all of our dinner, the plates had pictures on them, maybe a Christmas tree or snowman.

It was the little things I remember…
Playing basketball in the driveway by the garage in the afternoon
Or playing football in the little triangle park at the end of the street.
Sleeping in the bunkbeds in the upstairs bedroom until I was FINALLY old enough to get to sleep in the “blue room” – you would have thought it was the fanciest suite in some fancy hotel.

Children's room Bette's house

Yes, it’s the little things I remember…
Listening to stories about her life and from her travels
Learning to play spite and malice (and getting my rear kicked by Bette!); playing rummy tiles, cards, board games…
And, as I grew up and talked to her on an adult level, her advice was so important

Bette's breakfast room

Breakfast at Wade’s
Lunches at Charlie Hooper’s or the Classic Cup, shopping at Ward Parkway or Brookside.
Watching her give the same love and support to my own daughter, Shannon.. so important to me that Shannon had the experience that I had with Bette.
So I guess it’s not always the little things – sometimes those things turn out to be HUGE. You should really pay attention to the little things, someday they won’t be so small.

Bette Birthday flowers from son Lon, March 2006

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