Remembering Betty

In Golden Gate Park?


Betty Konstantin was my companion and girlfriend for at least 15 years. She died sometime around 2002 or 2003 (I don't know the exact date because we were out of touch for several years).

We met at Hillside Hospital in Queens New York where we were both patients recovering from depressive episodes. Although she was about 13 years older than me she was a very attractive and intelligent woman and I liked her a lot. So I flirted with her and when it turned out we were going to be discharged at approximately the same time I arranged for it to be at the same time and offered her a ride home (in my dad's car - which I borrowed). Since he did not use it during the week and neither of us had work to return to immediately (she was a teacher), I proposed a short vacation trip to a place I knew on the Delaware River. It was a broken down cottage, but was available - so we went.

That was the beginning of our long relationship. Because of our age difference (and probably my psychological fear of commitments) I never married her. I also did not move in with her (although she had a very large apartment) because of her two sons still living at home. However they liked me a lot and I was around so much that I think I was like a father to them.

Even after I moved to Boston in 1970 (to take the job at Harvard), we kept seeing each other for several years, me coming to New York once a month and she flying out to stay with me in Boston once in while. One time when I went to Los Angeles to help set up the laboratory for my Harvard professor who had gone to UCLA, I got an apartment in "The Valley" and invited her to come out and stay with me. That was, in fact, the only time we actually lived together. I believe she drove back to the Bay Area (here in California) with me (although I don't remember that) so perhaps there were many more trips we took to California together. We visited my sister and traveled to the Big Sur, Salinas, and to San Francisco. These were wonderful visits and one of the best times of my life. But I didn't marry Betty (as I said) and eventually she moved to Los Angeles herself to be near her younger son. That was long before I moved to California myself in 1989.

After I moved to California myself I decided to contact her. When I called her suggesting we get to see each other again she was very enthusiastic about it. However, as I also explained somewhere in my memoirs, she seemed confused about the distance between where I was and where she was. She didn't seem to understand why I couldn't just drive over and see her. As a very intelligent woman I found it hard to have to explain how far Los Angeles was from the San Francisco area. I also remembering saying you sound just like you always did (her voice had not changed from when I knew her earlier). She said she knew - she sounded much younger than her years. I told her I would arrange to come down to see her.

The next time I spoke to her not long after she seemed more confused - a lot of what she said didn't make sense. Then I knew there was something wrong. Also, although over the years I did not keep in touch with her nor with her son my friend Howard in New York did. Not too long after this I got a sad call from Howard, who had learned from the son that she had died of a "strange" brain disease - not something common and maybe inexplicable(?) I may or may not have talked to her son once more myself. I know she became very sick very fast and I remember someone telling me "you wouldn't have wanted to see her like that."

I think I would have married her after all this time - after all, I never did find my "dream wife" (i.e. younger and who could bear me children). And in hindsight (now 20-20) I knew we still loved each other.

So here is a memorial in pictures to Betty and the wonderful times we had together. She traveled with me all over and knew all of my friends and my sister Annette. We spent some wonderful times together and there is no doubt she was the "woman of my life."


 


 

 

 

                               In Carmel California

 

                    In Golden Gate Park

On the beach at Carmel California

 

 
                                                 Lunch Stop along highway 1
                                                           at Big Sur
     At Monterey - Clara Sargenti (looking
    through viewer), Annette and Betty
 


Betty and Naomi at the airport

 


 

 

NOTE: These pictures were all converted from 35MM slides and processed with Adobe Photoshop

 

 

 

 

 

        Back in Massachusetts : Cape Cod