Betty Frechette was my mum’s best friend for 34 years and on Thursday, August 1st she lost her battle with cancer.
My Aunty Betty was one of a kind, a spitfire who knew what she liked and what she didn’t. And rest assured, if there was something she didn’t like you were going to hear about it.
She was feisty and her forthrightness could sometimes be a little off-putting, but she was honest and one hell of a woman. She was so strong and that’s why I think it’s difficult to accept that she’s gone. She was such a force in our family and it’s so strange for her to no longer be there.
That’s why I wanted to take some time to think about all she meant to me and the important things I learned from her.
- Do what you love in life
If you love to travel, travel. If you’re creative, tap into your talent and use it. In the last 10 years or so of her life, Aunty Betty started painting. I can’t tell you what type she did, only that it was really good. She gave my mum a winter landscape once and it’s still hanging in our house.
- Don’t take crap from anyone
Betty wasn’t one to suffer fools gladly and also didn’t like to see people take advantage of others. She was one of the only people who could call my dad out his sometimes crotchety behaviour without him getting mad. They went way back so she held a privileged position lol.
- Live by your own standards
In one of my last conversations with Betty, she told me that it doesn’t matter what I choose to do in life, simply that I should do what I feel is right for me. She said there was no reason to feel like I wasn’t doing things in the right way, or the right time because as long as I find a path that I’m happy with that’s all that matters.
- Laugh loudly
If you think I laugh loudly, you ain’t heard nothin’! When Betty found something funny, she did not hold back. I can still see her sitting around our kitchen table giggling with my mum. When those two got together they were trouble! When I think of her, her smile and laugh are two of the things that first come to mind.
- Savour life’s luxuries
Betty was quite the gourmande – she liked to cook, eat and enjoy a drink or two. She and my Uncle Gilles were known for hosting dinner parties and entertaining friends. Even while she was in the hospital in her last weeks, she had a scotch and water at 4 p.m. everyday. Betty also had a penchant for perfume and pink pedicures. She indulged in these simple pleasures and I’m using her enjoyment as a reminder to savour these parts of life.
- Have good friends that you’ll help at the drop of a hat and who would do the same for you
Betty and Gilles were always good to the people in their lives, helping whenever they could. Now, in their time of need those friends have helped them to no end. Because they live in Winnipeg, my family couldn’t be as huge a help as both Betty and Gilles struggled with serious illness. I’m extremely grateful to the close friends who have helped them everyday. It’s a very real example of the type of person, and friend, I want to be.
- Find a great love
Betty and Gilles just marked their 30th wedding anniversary this spring. They weren’t able to really celebrate the way they should have because they were both so ill, but they marked the day the best way they could. Betty and Gilles were were as perfect a couple as I’ve ever really seen. They complemented each other very well and took good care of each other. Above all, they respected each other and it’s difficult to think of one without the other. They travelled the world, supported one another and enjoyed life. Simply put, they were a team – partners who faced very challenging circumstances at the end of their life together, but whose love never faded. I hope that one day I’m lucky enough to find a love like that.
I had the pleasure and great honour of knowing Betty for 26 years. She was a wonderful person who brought love and laughter into the lives of all who knew her. She will be truly missed.