Written By: Elizabeth Hansen
Many of you don’t know me so let me take a minute to introduce myself. My name is Elizabeth better known as Betsy, Bea, Aunt BB, Mom, and Grammy to those closest to me. I was born in a small farm town called Sanger, California. I am one of five girls. Enough about my childhood, let’s talk about the most important part of my life.
My world changed for the better when I gave birth to my first daughter, Liz, in 1980 and my second, Amanda, in 1982. They were such blessings to me. You could literally see the love oozing from them. They were so similar and so different all at the same time. I could watch them all day if I could, Amanda following Liz around. Liz being a “bull in a china shop” going from A-B without even thinking and usually hurting herself in the process. Amanda on the other hand would watch her sister get hurt and then plot how to get from A-B so that she could do it without getting hurt. Earlier, I said I could watch them all day, unfortunately that was not in the cards for me. I was a working mom, working 40+ hours a week. From the time that both of my babies were 6 weeks old, I was in work and they were in childcare. Unfortunately, I was not able to see many firsts in their lives but, I tried to get in as many as I could.
When Amanda was 8, I made the decision to become a single mom and leave my husband. The man I fell in love with and the man that I upset my parents being with was no longer the man I had married 13 years prior. I had to get my daughters away from him before he hurt them any more than he already had. I would no longer allow drugs and alcohol to be present in my girls’ life or let them witness their father spiral out of control, more than he already had. So, in one day we packed everything up into a moving van and moved away from him. I fought for sole custody and won with minimal child support to be paid on his end. Child support was never received due to a loop hole the judge gave him, “child support will be paid once the father has obtained a job,” so what ended up happening is that he didn’t get a job (at least on the books) until after Amanda turned 18. He remained in and out, mostly out of their lives for the first few years but after Amanda decided she had it with the trying to stay connected only being one sided, he was out. I did what I could to keep him abreast on what was going on with the girls when big moments happened, Amanda’s high school graduation, Amanda being in “Bring it On,” Amanda making the cheer squad at San Diego State, Amanda graduating from college, getting engaged, married and having 2 beautiful babies with no response or attempt of him reaching out.
Now, you’ll notice that all of my updates to him were that of Amanda’s accomplishments; that is because on September 4th, 1998 my world was rocked to the core. This time is wasn’t in a good way but it sure was life changing to say the least. On this Labor Day weekend, I had decided to visit my dad and stepmom in Morro Bay, California where they resided, leaving my girls at home (my Father’s health wasn’t good at this time). They were teenagers at this point, Liz being 18 and just about to leave for college and Amanda 16 so, insert sarcasm here, they were the best of friends. Prior to me leaving, they were in the midst of an argument and yelling at one another. I stopped the fight and told them, “you never know what is going to happen tomorrow and do you want the last words you say to each other to be B***h, and F**K YOU?? Probably not, so just think about it.” Back to my visit; around 2 in the morning, the doorbell rang and then my stepmom came to the room I was in and said, “Betsy there are some police officers at the door and they want to speak with you.” When I got to the door, the words that came out of their mouths were some that I NEVER thought I would hear in my life. My daughter, Liz, was dead. She had been involved in a murder-suicide with her ex-boyfriend. You always hear about these terrible tragedies on the news and you always think, this will never happen to me. Well, I was now the one whose family was plastered on the news. My heart was broken into a million pieces. I had no time to be sad, or mourn my first baby’s death because all I could think about was my youngest baby and I was afraid my Father would have a heart attack. With Amanda in San Diego and me in Morro Bay, I was desperate to get Amanda with me.
About a week after that, we laid my baby girl to rest. The funeral was all a blur. So many people came from near and far to say their final good-byes and support our family. I remember walking into the funeral home that morning, and saying to myself, please don’t let me fall apart, “just let me get through this”. To this day, it remains a blur and still remains the saddest day of my life. I wish I could tell you that the sadness and pain get easier as time passes but, that simply isn’t the case. I still miss my daughter Liz so much each and every day. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about her and wish that she was here, living out her life. I think about what her life would have been like, what kind of career she would have, who she would have married, what her babies would have looked like. No, it doesn’t get any easier, you just learn to live with the heartache and pain and go on with your life.
Fast forward 16 years, nothing has ever been the same and nor it should be. We’ve celebrated far too many Christmas’, birthdays and milestones without our Liz. My daughter, Amanda, got married and has welcomed two beautiful baby girls into this world. My heart aches to know that all they will know of their Auntie Liz is pictures and our memories. However, we will do everything we can to make sure they know how amazing she was and that she is always there for us and watching over us.
In June of 2012 I retired to become “Grammy Day Care” for my granddaughters. It is the most wonderful job in the world. I get to spend time with the girls, watch then grow and observe the “first” so that we can share with their Mommy and Daddy, have sleepovers, bake together and trips to the zoo and Sea World. I can’t say it enough; I have the greatest job ever. These girls make me smile and one of my favorites is when the 3 year old asks me to sit my her and she tells me I am her best friend and “I love you Grammy”, while the 1 year old comes “running” with her hands held high so that I will pick her up. Now, I am the lucky one who gets to watch them as they grow into beautiful young women. They have an amazing, loving bond now and I am so excited to see that relationship grow. They love each other so much and are so excited to be around one another, just like my girls when they were younger. This truly is Heaven on Earth.