Monday, November 23, 2015


I am sitting in the waiting room at the Health Department, on this overcast, chilly Monday morning, waiting for my TB test results for substitute teaching.  It is a pretty grim place, considering all the sick people waiting to see a doctor.  When I got up this morning, i was pretty sure it would be a depressing way to start the day, but i was pleasantly surprised.  

I found a seat near a young family with two small children, and the little girl, who was about two, was so funny and sparkly that she made everyone in the waiting room laugh.  She was clearly giving her exhausted parents, who were caring for her two-day old brother, a run for their lives.  But she managed to grab everyone's attention and make them smile on a really grey day.  

Since i felt lighthearted, i was thinking about my dear aunt, Betty Hoyt.  Since I have been in the Bay Area, and since the weather has cooled, I have been wearing this scarf she gave me shortly before she died in June, 2011.  

Betty was one of the most optimistic, adventurous, creative people i have ever known.  An intrepid traveler, she went on trips to visit her daughters in Arizona, her son in Edinburgh, and to Croatia, on a cruise, up until the end.  The anticipation of a planned trip was as much a part of the enjoyment for Betty as was the actual trip.  

My dear aunt is in heaven, and I am sure she is delighted by my trip.  She was always a wonderful aunt, but after my mom died, Betty threw me life preservers often, while i flailed in my ocean of grief.  

Traveling was just a part of how she stayed interested and engaged in life.  She did not let a day go by without getting up and getting out of the house to find something new, even if it was a new way home.  She was a docent at the Butler Museum in downtown Youngstown, Ohio, and one of her favorite things to do was to take out-of-towners to visit the collection of diverse American art, including exhibits by her talented son-in-law, Tom Cvetkovich, a renowned hologram artist.  

I loved going with her, not just to see the gorgeous Winslow Homers and Wyeths, but to watch her in action, with people. She was a born leader with loads of charisma, and had she been born in more modern times, she would have been the one to run her father's construction company after his death, and it would still be paying dividends.

On this trip, when I have gotten into hard spots or sad places, Betty is who I think of, and I wonder how she would spin it. She would see whatever it was as a brain teaser to be solved, a new adventure to unravel.  

So that is what i am trying to do.  In these present circumstances, which are less than ideal at the moment, I can be like Betty, and write. Or go on a road trip. Or find a pool and swim. Or eat some chocolate. 

 Oh how Betty would have loved Nathan's. She loved Bohemia and creative people, and that is Nathan's.  David, one of the baristas, made me smile today when he told me that he was putting aside the big, brown cafe au lait bowl for me.  How nice is that?  It makes me feel so at home.   


  1. This is such a beautiful tribute to my mother and to read it on this day before Thanksgiving, all the better. Thank you, Claudia. You're writing is so poignant, it makes me cry. <3

  2. Aw Victoria your mom was one in a million! Love you!