Assisted Living Story: Nurse Betty
The Story of our Senior Resident 'Betty Sue Harlan'
Frontline Stories from Assisted Living at Stellar Care
Written by Mai Truong

Hy?po?mé?no is a Greek verb that translates to “endure.” This word as a noun, hy?po?mo?né, transmits the idea of more than simply tolerating a situation. Rather, it refers to a courageous or steadfast form of endurance that remains hopeful despite the challenges or trials that come one’s way. Author William Barclay described is as “the spirit which can bear things, not simply with resignation, but with blazing hope.” Hy?po?mo?né describes Betty Sue Harlan perfectly. She is a courageous woman who has always lent strength to her loved ones, no matter the storm at hand.

Betty Sue grew up in Washington D.C. as the only child of Roger and Essie Roberts. She always loved being around people and lending a helping hand to anyone in need. Thus, a career in nursing was a perfect pathway for her. After high school, Betty Sue went to college and nursing school. It was there that she met her future husband, John. John was in pharmacy school at the time and shared Betty Sue’s passion for the helping profession and healthcare. They later married and started their careers and family together.

John and Betty Sue moved to California fairly early on in their marriage, due to a contract John had with the military. They had two children together—Debbie and Byron. Betty Sue loved being a mother and started working part time as a nurse so that she could be available whenever her children needed her. Throughout her career, she worked in hospitals on the oncology floor, in schools as a nurse, and in other departments in various medical facilities. Tragically, John passed away while Byron and Debbie were still in school, meaning that Betty Sue would be the sole parent and provider. She strove to guide her children and provide for them while working through her own grief. She did so in a loving and courageous way. If Byron or Debbie were ever frustrated or trying to resolve a problem, Betty Sue would comfort them with the words “This too, shall pass” and “Talk to God.” She made sure to care for, not only her family’s physical health, but their emotional health as well.

After John’s passing, Betty Sue kept busy with her family, focusing on exercising, eating well and staying occupied. After a few years, she joined some dance classes and met Glen, who had been a radio man in the Navy and veteran from World War II. Glen was a wonderful person and loving toward Byron and Debbie. He became Betty Sue’s life partner. They would travel, taking cruises or visiting different places with one another. Betty Sue loved the Spanish language and enjoyed visiting Mexico, where she could work on perfecting her Spanish. Glen and Betty Sue enjoyed forty-four years of companionship together. He was a pillar for her in good times and tough ones. When she was grieving the loss of her daughter, Debbie, Glen was there to help. Betty Sue, in turn, supported him through health issues and other challenges that came with age. She was his faithful caregiver until the end of his life. In asking Betty Sue how she was able to be so resilient in the face of such painful trials, she shared, “I thank God for being alive.” She added that it is important to focus on the people that we have the opportunity to show love to today.

Betty Sue’s strength has been so admirable and inspirational to those around her that she was featured in a popular woman’s magazine. The article about her helped others to see how a single woman can still make it, stay happy and move ahead. Betty Sue never stopped moving forward. She took the world by storm, nursed many individuals back to health, traveled, and always aimed to live a healthy lifestyle. She made sure to take time for herself to go dancing, knit or crochet. Betty Sue has left a tremendous legacy for her family to follow. She has lived a life of love and continues to emanate kindness and a “blazing hope” as she greets others with a smile each day.

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