Grandma was a 92-year-old with a mind age of 50. She lived in a flat in downtown Seattle. A city full of life and lights that never dimmed. Betty lived with two other occupants, her two dogs, Frankie and Johnnie.
These two dogs watched over their master, never forgetting that at one time they each had lived in a shelter for homeless dogs. Frankie was a golden retriever and Johnnie was a black lab. She had adopted the two at the same time, both being about the age of one year.
Each year at the holidays, you could find Betty deeply involved with the less fortunate. She could be found in the kitchen, peeling potatoes, or you may see her out on the front line, filling up plates, with fresh slices of turkey, green beans, and a nice piece of juicy ham.
Betty also spent many Sunday afternoons at the nursing homes, reading to the patients, or going room to room to pop in and say a quick hello. Hospitals got to know her visits so well, that she was known as God’s angel.
When she wasn’t involved with helping someone else, she could be found in her apartment, feeding her dogs first and then rummaging through her cupboards to find herself something to eat.
Her cupboards were less than half-filled. If you peeked inside, you would possibly see a few cans of soup, some canned vegetables, and a can or two of meat. In her refrigerator, you would see water in a jug, maybe some milk, and always her stored glass jar of ground coffee.
Betty had been brought up by parents who were well-known. They had made their fortunes by selling and buying stocks. She remembered many parties that had been held in their home. Lots of food and drink available, smoke lingering in the air from cigars, and gambling.
Betty also remembered many a Christmas’s, when the door knocker would sound, and her father would open the door to someone hungry and cold, and her father would shut the door in their faces, yelling harshly at the beggars to get a job free loader.
Betty remembered pretty dresses, and shoes and socks that matched. A nice warm bed at nights, stuffed dolls standing on shelves. A warm bath awaited her each morning, as her nanny came in to wake her up. Meals were served in the large dining room. A long, rectangle table with many chairs, but the only one being seated at most meals was herself.
Betty was not schooled in the public schools. She had a private tutor that came to her home five days a week, and for four hours each visit, she was taught how to read and write.
Playing with other children was prohibited. Her father wanted no one less than his own kind entering his door. Betty’s best friend was her nanny and her dolls. She would line up her dolls at her child size table, and with the help of Sara, the nanny, tea and cookies would be served to each of her friends.
When Betty grew up, she took with her memories of her childhood. Loneliness was her biggest shadow, and she vowed she would do her best to never see a sad face again. She worked for her parents in the office, that was in one of the tallest buildings down town.
She made a few close friends, and dated some, but never found the perfect mate, so marriage never entered her life. She saved money, but never invested. She followed the rules of her parent’s home, until one day she was sick at heart of the stuffiness, and broke a way. She found a flat, and then visited second-hand stores, filling her apartment with golden treasures.
Eventually she retired from the family business and with her tidy savings in the local bank, she went to work for a small business, where the goal was to help those in need. It was one of the stores she had went to when she was looking for furniture. Here she worked behind the counter.
She helped customers fill out paper work. She made calls to help some to retain heat during the cold winter months. She partook in putting meals together, and making sure that no one left the front door empty-handed.
Betty did this kind of work for many years. As she went home from work she would be tired, but it was a good tired. She loved her home, but walking into quietness, sometimes would make her sad. She decided to visit an animal shelter, and this is where she acquired her two best friends.
Each night she would turn the key in her door, and when it was opened, there would be Frankie and Johnnie, with tails wagging. She was always welcomed with love, and loyalty. She would go to the cupboards, and get two cans of dog food out and feed them first, before she thought about her own needs.
After the dogs finished eating, they would all sit on the couch, she would pet and talk to them, and they in turn would give her kisses and love. Betty felt that there was nothing else in her life that she could possibly need.
As years passed, Betty’s body began to tire out. Arthritis had set in and walking was more difficult. At the age of 82, she retired from her job, and spent most of her time with her dogs, but something was missing. She did not feel as if she was doing enough to help others. She needed more out of her life.
This is when she bumped into the homeless shelters and soup kitchens. There was no money to be made, but she didn’t care. What she received from this job was far more valuable than any dollar. Sometimes she took scraps home to her two dogs. These treats she provided, also gave her more love than she could ever want for.
Betty lived like this for many more years, until one time as she walked in her front door, she walked into silence. Frankie had went to sleep for ever on her side of the bed on the floor, and she found Johnnie sitting quietly near by.
This saddened Betty so much, she sat on her bed and cried for the loss of her good friend. She called the maintenance man and asked for his help in taking care of the dog’s body. It was less than two weeks later, that Johnnie died of loneliness for his friend.
Betty found herself alone. She would walk with her cane over to the living room window, and look out over the city, seeing life but no living, lights with no glow. She was growing very weak herself, and knew that her own time was coming to an end, and yet she knew that she had lived the best life and had helped so many.
She turned from the window, and walked to the kitchen, and taking two cans of dog food out of the cabinet, set them down, but never opened them. Tears slid down her face as she realized this habit could be no more, and placed the two cans back on the shelf.
She was not hungry, and she went into her bathroom, and washing her face and brushing her hair, she then went to her bedroom, and slipping into bed, she pulled her worn blankets up around her face, and thinking about Frankie and Johnnie, she went to sleep, never to wake again.
Her death was discovered by the postal man. He knocked on her door out of habit for many years. He would hand her mail to her, and she would stand and chat with him a few moments, brightening his day, but today no one answered the door.
The next days paper showed the following information. Betty, 92 years old, passed a way in her sleep peacefully. She had never married, but had adopted two dogs that were her children and the joy of her life. She dedicated her life to helping the less fortunate. Everyone knew her name and her heart. She never met a stranger. Betty’s parents had died many years earlier. There were no brothers or sisters. Betty had an estimated one million dollars, which has been left to the city to be spent on building new homeless shelters for people and animals. Betty will be missed by many. Rest in peace my friend.
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