Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Betsy Holt Pierce
October 17,1925-February 28, 2011

~reposted from 2008~

A little while back we went to spend some time with Josh's little grandma. My time with her always feels bittersweet. The first time I met her she was quick to link her arm in mine and immediately made me comfortable in that grandmotherly tender way. Though I never really got close to her before she began to suffer from Alzheimer's disease.

I can say unequivocally that I hate this disease, anyone who's been touched by it can echo its devastation. There is often a look of utter confusion and fear in her eyes as she has no idea where she is or who we are. Little things we take for granted have become the most troublesome feats, like what to do with a tooth brush or a spoon. It breaks my heart to see her strain for the memories or the words. We all feel a little lost and a bit like a stranger from time to time, but to live in a constant state of disorientation, I can not imagine. So we are sure to say in loud clear voices, "Look at your beautiful grand-daughter Naya." and "so your grandson is four years old now," to help her know she is with her family.

Do we ever anticipate our body or our mind betraying us? One day do you just look down at your veins through paper-thin wrinkled skin and wonder when did this happen? Do we not feel just the same in our hearts as the years pass? With ageing comes so many endings and losses: loss of loved ones, of health, of energy, of clarity. Even with the promise of glory, and as natural as physical deterioration is, I don't think we're ever really ready for it. Our spirits weren't made for endings; they were made for eternity. It is this that makes the most natural process feel so completely un-natural and painful. I didn't mean to sound so dismal; my mind can just get lost in such things.
Betsy is certainly anything but dismal; through so much struggle she still takes so much joy in watching all her little great-grand babies. She may not know their names or gender but she laughs as she reaches for their soft hands and still has that protective mothering instinct whenever she's with them. My hilarious husband can still make her crack up with the most contagious giggle.
I watched her try to sing along as I sang hymns. But perhaps most amazing is that though the most ordinary bits of knowledge fail her she can sit down at her baby grand piano and from somewhere deep in her soul, she can play. Though they may start slow and she couldn't tell you their titles, song after song they come, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", "New York, New York" and various other old-timey classics. She was once an accomplished classical pianist and by some measure of grace despite what she has lost, she can still remember how to play. As I watched her frail fingers grace the keys I thanked God that her passion for music was so embedded into her hard-drive that it now provides a place of peace and familiarity. How powerful music can be in that way and how much more beautiful.


Cindy said...

Oh! I've known Betsy since Josh was little. What a sweet dear lady. Do you know yet what the arrangements will be for her? Please give Artie my love and tell him I'm praying for him.

linda said...

I will Cindy. Here is the info.

Betsy Holt Pierce
Longtime Organist Was Volunteer At Hutcheson
posted March 1, 2011

Betsy Holt Pierce died on Monday, Feb. 28, 2011, at the age of 85. She waged a long and gallant battle with Alzheimers.

A native of Raleigh, N.C., she was born Oct. 17, 1925.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Frank Pierce; her father, Vernon Aubrey Holt; and mother, Jane Pauline Holt.

Although she was an only child, she enjoyed growing up with her cousins, Nan Gosnell and Martha Ann Wilburn. She received her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees from Meredith College in Raleigh.

Music was her lifelong passion. She was the organist for many years at First Baptist Church, and also at Saint Paul's Episcopal Church.

She was active in several local music organizations and historical preservations: the American Guild of Organists, The McDowell Club and the Houston Museum of Glass to name a few. She was a volunteer at Hutcheson Medical Center.

She is survived by her two children, Elizabeth (Al) Bridges, Frank (Susan) Green Jr.; three grandchildren, Jason Booth, Josh (Linda) Green, Jennifer (Josh) Kring; and five great-grandchildren, Juden Green, Lavender Kring, Ella Green, Naya Green, Autumn Kring.

Memorial contributions may be made to Samaritans Purse, in lieu of flowers.

Services will be at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 2, at Saint Paul's Episcopal Church, with visitation at 1:30 p.m., and with the Rev. and Honorable Sam Payne and Pastor Travis Hutchinson officiating. Burial will follow at Chattanooga Memorial Park Cemetery.

Arrangements are by Wann Funeral Home.