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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!

 

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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.

Love,

Pamela

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.

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 http://www.blurb.com

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!

 

Still More Exchange about Bette Silver in their lives 

Lawrence to Michelle

I do not remember playing games with you as a kid. I’d be interested in more of those memories that you have. We did break out the old Tri-Ominos game that came from Bette’s house this month for the first time. I used to enjoy playing that game.

It’s funny how many people have told me that Bette loved our weekly visits.  The visits to Bette’s house became a fixture on our  schedule every week for my son Henry and me for two years.

Bette with Lawrence, photo by great-grandson Henry

Michelle to Lawrence
My family dynamic was such that as I said earlier that Bette was a safe haven for me – I was happy to have her in my life.

When I was very young, I would visit her and her second husband Harold Silver at the Georgetown Apartments in Kansas City… It was where I learned to swim. I was probably about four years old.

Later there were many, many swim dates at the Carriage Club in Kansas City …what a BIG deal I thought that was!! I remember her telling us to go order whatever we wanted for lunch and feeling so “grownup” going in and signing a slip of paper for our lunch and sitting there eating. I know… silly .. but Bette never made you feel like you were too young or immature to do it yourself!

Another memory: Bette shared her love of reading with me and eventually with Shannon. They spent many a day at a bookstore… Shannon usually coming home with a stack of them to read! Maybe that’s why she is a teacher now.

 

Bette with great-grandson Henry

 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

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