Treasured memories and reflections on life, death and rebirth

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After months of championing the memory of a mayor the city had all but forgotten, Jane M. Byrne, it was ironic I’d be out of the country when she died.

I also missed watching the final goodbye to a feisty, unforgettable woman I had not seen since 1980 — after exiting as her press secretary — and becoming a mom.

Life. Death. Rebirth.

All three happened to Byrne before she died. I’m told her funeral was splendid and her beloved grandson, Willie, was finally able to see how loved and honored his grandmother had been when she held sway in the city.

Days before I left on vacation, the son of another mother, my late friend Betty Elliott, became the father of Betty’s only grandchild — a baby she would never know.

I thought of Betty on Monday during Byrne’s funeral and hoped little Evan Edward Elliott, Betty’s grandson, would one day also know the splendor of his grandmother.

Life. Death. Rebirth. 

Here is what I wrote when Betty died in 2002, when her son Tim had yet to approach adulthood . . . let alone an altar with his darling, Rhonda.

I remember what I wrote back then about Betty, while holding her grandson the day before I left on vacation a few weeks ago: 

“I never knew Betty’s middle name. Not that it made any difference. I knew Betty and that was enough.

We motored through our mothering days like border collies, trying to shepherd our children — Betty’s Whitney and Tim and my Patrick — over the bumps encountered in grade school and the pitfalls awaiting them as teenagers. 

Betty and I, as different as night and day in temperament and technique, connected in the way magic happens.


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