Betty 1

Betty is a West Virginia native who made her way to north central Ohio, raised four children and lives in an Ashland County nursing home.

Editor's Note:  Paul Miller is a social working student senior at The Ohio State University Mansfield. June is Elder Empowerment Month in Ashland County and today marks the first in a four-part series he has authored to salute senior citizens and their accomplishments in the community. This series is part of Richland Source's Gray Matters project.

Betty was born in West Virginia in 1930 and is 87 years old. She was 15 years old when she moved to Ohio and reported being teased a lot because of her accent at a local school.

“God made us all the same and that nobody’s any different or better than anyone else," she said. "Other than that I just learned to deal with it.”

She met her ex-husband when she was 18 at a wedding reception. The couple's first child arrived within a year and it was not an easy pregnancy.

She was having complications and was worried about losing the baby She was admitted to the hospital and had to be fed through tubes. She struggled to keep anything down and doctors advised doing a Dilation and Curettage procedure which would have resulted in the baby's death. Her doctors believed Betty would not survive the pregnancy otherwise.

Still, she refused after a spiritual encounter. Betty said the Lord woke her up one night, "it was the greatest feeling ever. I knew the Lord was there.” She explains that it was a very deep and heavy feeling of peace and that she was unable to go back to sleep. That calming influence helped her to adjust mentally and eventually she gave birth to her daughter.

Three more children followed, but when the couple split, Betty was left to raise them virtually alone.

“Think a long time before you get married,” she said. “You can’t leave the Lord out of your life.”

She believes going to Sunday school and knowing God are among her greatest achievements.

When she filed for divorce, the judge asked her, “How are you going to support your four kids?”

She replied, “I’m going to work.”

She explained that she found a babysitter next door and went right into the workforce at the pottery shop in Perrysville, taking a bus to and from work. At the time she noted the bus didn't operate on a regular schedule, so she had to wake up extra early in order to make it into work.

Currently Betty resides in a nursing home and enjoys being there. She is surrounded by people her own age, likes her room and its beautiful view overlooking the courtyard.

To find out more about elder empowerment month and activities, contact the Ashland County Council on Aging at 419-281-1477.

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This Solutions Journalism story is brought to you in part by the generous support of our Newsroom Partners: Spherion, Visiting Nurses Association, PR Machine Works, Nanogate/Jay Systems, DRM Productions, OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital, Richland Bank, Mechanics Bank, Area Agency on Aging, and many others. To learn more about Solutions Journalism at Richland Source click the "About Solutions Journalism."