Betty Jo Smith passed away on Christmas night. She probably timed her exit lovingly so we would remember her every Christmas. She didn’t need to worry, her memory will stay in our hearts always. Betty Jo was memorable, was strong willed, independent, funny and (in the words of her sister-in-law) “ornery.”
The youngest of eight kids, she got teased … a lot, but she gave as good as she got. She could laugh at herself and she loved making other people laugh. If you ever saw her and her beloved dog do their “impressions act” (Betty Jo would help him impersonate a rabbit, a hedgehog, a seal) you would know she could have been a hit on “America’s Got Talent.”
Laughing was important because it wasn’t always easy for Betty Jo. As a single mother, she had to raise her daughter, Becky, while working full time, first as a nurse (Blue Cross Blue Shield) and later in workers’ compensation for the state of Ohio. During those long days, she relied on her stubborn spirit and lots (and lots) of Pepsi to keep her going. She worked hard and she loved Becky even harder. When Becky was grown with four kids of her own, Benjamin Jacob, Jordan Douglas, Hannah Maree and Sarah Rose — three in diapers and the other age 7 — Betty Jo moved across the country to help out with her beloved grandkids and to be close to her daughter and son-in-law, William.
She had a special bond with those grandkids. Her oldest grandson Ben was named after Betty Jo’s father and she never missed one of his games or events. She could be heard cheering Ben on . . . very loudly . . . from the sidelines. She even took on a ref or two when deemed necessary. She and granddaughter Hannah would make frequent trips to the Dunkin’ Donuts for their favorite Boston Kremes. Hannah’s twin brother, Jordan, shared with Betty Jo a passion for the Ohio State Buckeyes and they would watch every game together dressed in scarlet and gray gear. All the kids loved to have sleepovers when she lived in Upton. It meant junk food, movies, Pepsi and lots of snuggles. In her later years, as Alzheimer’s started to take its toll on her, she would stroke the hair of her youngest granddaughter, Sarah, and call her Becky. She would tell Sarah how beautiful she was and how much she loved her.
Betty Jo saw the beauty in everything. She loved her family and every moment she got to spend with them. She always found a way to smile, even when it was too tough to laugh. It’s only fitting then that every Christmas, when the world is happiest and most beautiful, we will always think of her.
Visitation was scheduled for Jan. 4. Arrangements are under the care of the Chesmore Funeral Home of Hopkinton.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Betty’s memory may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 309 Waverley Oaks Road, Waltham, MA 02452 or alz.org.