Elizabeth “Betsy” Anne Smith

(November 26, 1951- October 27, 2006)

My Mom

Mom & Me on my wedding day.

Written in Loving Memory of My Mom, Jenn

My mom was the single most inspirational person I have know in my life and rather than sharing the story of her death, I’d like to share the story of her life.

My mom was born Elizabeth Anne Ask in November of 1951. Everyone called her Betsy. Her parents’ names were Gilbert and Dorothy. Whenever she spoke of her childhood, she had nothing but happy memories. Her best memories were those of a home they had lived in for several years in Oxford, Pennsylvania. She lovingly referred to it as “The Farm.” On the farm, Betsy spent hours exploring, playing, and just doing the things young children do. She often talked about her pet goose, Samantha, who lived on the farm as well. She also told stories of how their pet cat used to catch all sorts of small creatures- mice, rabbits, and even groundhogs and leave them on the front steps. This happened so regularly, that she and her brother learned to take a large step whenever they left for school in the morning so as not to step on whatever “gift” the cat had left them.

It was probably during those years on the farm that Betsy developed her deep love for animals. For my entire life, we have had pets. Not in a “crazy cat lady” kind of way, but in a beloved member of the family way. My mom loved our pets and cared for them in such a way that I learned how full animals can make our lives. I also saw what it is like to give and receive unconditional love. Two years ago, my mom adopted the first dog that she’d every picked out on her own. She adopted him from the pound and named him Max. She was so excited when she got him. She adored Max almost as much as he adored her. Every time I talked to her, she had a new story about him. Sometimes I even felt a little sibling rivalry with that dog!

My mom loved not just pets, but pretty much anything having to do with nature (except snakes!). I remember as a child, we would watch “Wild America” together every Sunday night. I also have great memories of us going to the zoo, picnicking and looking at all of the animals. Sometimes we’d go to a local pond, buy cracked corn, and feed the ducks and geese there. For many years, there was a white goose that I insisted was Samantha. I had obviously heard the Samantha stories many times!

Betsy also inherited my grandmother’s love for flowers and gardening. She knew the names of just about any plant you could point out to her. She got so excited when it got warm enough outside to start planting things in her garden. Just about every weekend during the spring and into the summer, she would be planting something new out back. Once I bought my own house, she was always happy to recommend new plants for me to try. I don’t think my mom had a favorite flower, but there is one that I always associate with her more than others. That one is the crocus. For as long as I can remember when I used to live at home, on New Year’s Day, my mom would go outside to inspect her garden and see if any of her crocuses were beginning to come up. Usually, she’d find some small sprouts here and there. Once I had my own house, and my own crocuses, she’d call me after finding her crocuses starting to come up to see if mine were visible too. Since I lived two hours north of her, mine were always a little behind. But she’d insist I go outside and check anyway.

I remember something I told my mom when I was getting ready to go off for college. I told her that she now needed to “get a life.” By that time, I recognized that she had put everything aside for me and I was worried she was going to be sad and lonely when I went away to school. Well, boy did she heed my advice! She became extremely involved in her community. She became a member and secretary for the town’s Historical Society and also got more involved in her church community. She was in the church choir, bell choir, was secretary for the church council, and took part in many other activities at the church. She was so active that I would often have to call her several days in a row before I’d even get a hold of her!

By that time, our family had dwindled down to essentially just the two of us. Both of her parents had passed away and her brother lived across the country. Her church community became her family. At the time, I still worried that she might be a little lonely, even though she was rarely home when I called her in the evenings. It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to spend two weeks in Georgetown as she was dying that I realized how lucky she truly was. My mom was never lonely because she got to do something that most people never have the chance to do- she got to choose her family. She surrounded herself with friends who were more loving and devoted than many people’s family members could be. Because of how far away I lived from her, I barely knew many of them, yet they were there constantly to support my mom as well as me during her last days.

Being with my mom and her family during those last two weeks of her life taught me so much about friendship, family, and what it means to be alive. If I can touch just one life the way my mom did, I will have done something to honor her life and memory. She has truly left behind an example of grace and love that we should all strive for in our lives.

Mom Jennifer and Pets

Jennifer and Cubby

 

Jenn is raising meningitis awareness and funds for Meningitis Angels by distributing Crocus Bulbs for a donation to Meningitis Angels in memory of her mom.   

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Mom age 5