stand up, your mother’s passin’.

Betty G. Miller by Nancy Rourke

Betty G. Miller by Nancy Rourke

there is a line in To Kill a Mocking Bird that has been on my mind lately

“Miss Jean Louise. Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passing.”

It’s been on my mind cuz Ken Burns is making a documentary on the Central Park Five and i used to live in NYC at the time that the jogger was viciously attacked and young black boys were accused of wilding and worse and the justice system went unjust as it so often does with young disenfranchised Black males.

It has also been on my mind cuz my own father is struggling with his health and i keep doing that limbo dance of preparing myself for his departure which will rip my heart in two to make room for a new way of being with my dad and keeping a vigil over him – whispering that all will be well and he can stay a bit more.  I love him so.   just willing my way to accepting God’s will cuz this is my father’s chief wish.  It aint easy though ; )

But the line reminds me muchly of my father because to me he too is “a good man” much like Atticus in To Kill a Mocking Bird.

And this morning it has lept to my mind because I have received an email that Betty G. Miller has passed away.  And to this i say:


I will myself to see her riding on the kindly carriage that Emily Dickinson wrote of – Waving and Beaming her big Betty smile at all of us.  Just amazed at the wonders of the worlds and transition.

I’m telling meself that i hope she will get back to creating up there.  she is a powerful being just simply powerful.  one of those Most Influential People in my life and like some of them, someone i barely spent any time with in person.  That is just how POWerful she is.

I adore her.

She is one of the most courageous souls i have ever met.  I havent sung her praise often enuf or well enuf simply because i knew i could never do her justice.  id try to b/vlog now and then about the Mother of De’VIA (Deaf View / Image Art – art about the Deaf experience) but every time i did, i would be besieged by emotion and just say “leave it.”  And so i left it – incomplete – just a nod and a wink from time to time in honor of her birthday or in articles about her work but to tell u the whole of it – i dont think i ever will be able to because… well its not finished ; 0

in fact she is probably just getting warmed up – yes i see u Betty and i feel u.  i know i know i know – these are the best of times and the worst of times but Betty – Dear Betty we are finding our feet and in many ways we are indebted to you.  It was YOU who braved to buck against the mantra of only making happy happy Deaf art and were determined to put forth the TRUTH.  As in truth force / soul force via your paintings, illustrations, and mixed media works.

it was you betty.

U rocked the viewers soul Betty.  U still do.

Ok i gotta stop cuz im all tear-eyed.  I might have to do a series or just “leave it.”  Not sure where u want me to go and i imagine right now u r a bit busy getting settled in so we will see see.  But know this.  i thank THEE.  u have been instrumental in the me of me and in so many beings.

Nancy Creighton, Betty’s long time partner, our hearts go out to you.  I imagine Screen shot 2012-12-03 at 3.11.32 PMhow hard it was in these last few years to see Betty’s memory slipping from her.  I will forever remember how she called you her “Memory Bank” and how she would look to you for added words or to jog her files to recall things and how you would look at her to make sure she was not over doing herself and just to send forth your great love for her.  It was a huge honor to get to know you both a bit more during the Retrospective of Betty’s work at the Dyer Arts Center in 2008.  Incredibly sorry for all of our losses now that this petite giant of an artist and human being has passed but most especially for your loss.  I imagine it is huge and heavy and hard in places.  Thank you for sharing Betty, her work and her heart, with all of us.

Screen shot 2012-12-03 at 3.15.46 PMBetty – truly u rocked the house with all you have done as a teacher, advocate, artist, counselor.  You have helped so many folks with your book – Deaf & Sober: Journeys Through Recovery and via your truth campaign.

Just yesterday i was envisioning the De’VIA 25h anniversary celebration in the Dyer Arts Center for Fall 2014 and i saw u in my mind’s eye sitting front and center beaming from ear to ear your wonderful betty smile lapping it all up.

We gonna save a seat for you miss betty.  For sure.

but for now my dear readers –

STAND UP, our mother’s passin’.

betty & patti

color pix of me and betty with sad faces with betty’s hand on my arm in comfort and me with my hand on hers. i have no recollection of what we are being told by whom that made us so sad and no memory of who took this pix but its one of me all time fav pix. thank u to whomever snapped it. the pix was taken on the day that betty was to receive the Alice Cogswell award (2009) at Gallaudet. later on her way up to receive the award – she tripped and fell and bounced right back up to proclaim “i always FALL in love with Gallaudet” – wasnt she champ!

link to the Alice Cogswell Award for Betty G. Miller in 2009


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Laurie Monahan
    Dec 03, 2012 @ 20:29:27

    Thank you, Patti!!! **tears** She will be missed by many of us.
    However, I am looking forward to attend De’VIA 25th Anniversary.

  2. Antonia Lindsey Rathbun
    Dec 03, 2012 @ 21:05:07

    I am in tears, Patti. She is the Mother of all Deaf Sober and Clean people and set us the grand example of what honest, open-minded and willing means a day at a time. Her powerful ART healed her and heals us still. We pick up the brush she left us and we STAND and PAINT in her honor now. Come on DeVia artists, let’s do an homage for Betty G in Kansas City this summer! Deaf, Clean, Sober and STANDING!!!!!

  3. Shawn Elfrink
    Dec 03, 2012 @ 21:40:25

    Oh patti! Thank you so much for sharing about Betty G Miller, the Mother of De’VIA and Deaf Sober. I did not know and have not meet her in my life. Wow, I was reading this post and it brought me tears too. Wow 25th Anniversary De’VIA seems so special on the fall of 2014. Hope someday someone will make biography document film of Betty G. Miller so we will honor her name.

  4. handeyes
    Dec 06, 2012 @ 04:07:06

    Laurie – re missed – true. Re- 25th ya hoo. Would love to see ur pp on Betty and De’VIA some day


  5. Sheri Farinha
    Dec 07, 2012 @ 00:21:28

    A beautiful tribute!

  6. Vikee Waltrip
    Dec 07, 2012 @ 01:39:10

    Oh Patty….wonderful tribute…..Betty is part of the reason I have 29 years….Love you Betty!

  7. handeyes
    Dec 07, 2012 @ 15:15:21

    Antonia – very true all u wrote – maybe suggest to Jeanne E. Re: betty & Kansas this summer

    Shawn – there is a 45 minute video of Betty G. Miller and Susan Dupor called “Paint it Loud” by Emily Steinberg – u can view it at DeafTV for $14

    There is also video interviews with Betty G. Miller in the HeART of Deaf Culture: Literary and Artistic Expressions of Deafhood DVD set – see Disc 1 – Visual Art Timeline Spectrum and De’VIA videos and Disc 2 – sit down interview with Betty

    i think Tracey Salaway was planning to make a film about Betty some day too

    Vikee – wonderful and keep up ur one day at a time – 29 years is great and ur soberity is a tribute to Betty and urself and all the folks u love and who love u



  8. handeyes
    Dec 08, 2012 @ 14:30:41

    Sheri – somehow I missed ur comment. Thank u. It’s beautiful cuz that is what Betty is – beautiful.


  9. Jules -oo-
    Dec 09, 2012 @ 17:21:27

    ❤ this. It's a fine tribute to Betti Gee and Nancy. Just a wonderful tribute. Well worded and beautifully evocative. Thank you!

  10. handeyes
    Dec 10, 2012 @ 02:23:50

    thank u for ur kind words. its their doing more than mine ; )



  11. Trackback: Passages: Betty G. Miller « Purple Swirl Arts

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