Betty (Elizabeth) and Jim Bedotto are a couple in love, the real, long lasting kind of love. Sixty one years ago, November 22, 1951 on a beautiful snowy Thanksgiving Day, they exchanged wedding vows. They have actually known each other since they were six years old. Living in the same neighborhood in West Paterson, New Jersey, they were aware of each other and even attended the same church. Jim remembers when he was six that there was “something about her.” In his senior year in high school their relationship took a new turn. When Jim was 17 and she was 16, they went to a fireworks display together, one month later a movie, then a senior dance. There was one year between their graduations; hers being 1951 and his 1950. During that year they dated and went steady.
Jim knew two things: he would be drafted because of the Korean War and he wanted to marry Betty before he was drafted. Betty was one of four daughters of a protective father, so as a good prospective son-in-law should, Jim asked Betty’s father if he could marry her, adding, ” I noticed how you guard your daughters. I promise I’ll take care of her just like you did.” Needless to say, the father, having known Jim in the community and his family, accepted him and always loved him like a son. Their families remained close.
His promise was carried out many times over their life together. Jim bought a motorcycle and took Betty for a ride. The safety of the motorcycle (no helmets back then) worried her father for his daughter’s safety and he told Jim of his concerns. Without hesitating Jim sold the motorcycle, after only a four month ownership. While Betty stayed home, Jim served his country as a corporal for 19 months in the Pentagon Signal Corps, four and a half hours from their home and Betty. He laughed when he remembered she knitted an argyle sweater and argyle socks for him to wear while he was there. (He still has the socks). Later he was transferred to Camp Gordon, in Augusta, Georgia, where Betty moved to join him, renting one apartment of a duplex for two months just to be near him. In 1954 he had served his country and they started a family with their son, Bill in 1955 and later, their daughter, Carol in 1962.
Both of them had worked outside the home. Jim was a truck driver for 43 years, mostly in the eastern states. Betty was the secretary at St. Judes’ Church.
Mr. Bedotto says, “She is the best wife anybody could have. She was always patient with me.”
Mr. Bedotto loved antique cars and worked on them in their garage and stayed close by Mrs. Bedotto when he was home. Betty loved to crochet and won an award for a pattern she designed. She was also very talented at playing the piano, organ and accordion. As she grew older, she developed a few health problems which they faced together. Over eight years ago they moved to Apex.
In 2010 their lives began to change. They were eating at a restaurant for Mother’s Day with their daughter Carol. Betty, went to the bathroom and never returned to the table. They all began looking for her and found her outside on the sidewalk after taking the wrong door, crying because she thought they had left her. The next week she was going to the hospital for a pacemaker and couldn’t find her rings when she came out of the bathroom. After a search, he found them at home in a cup on a shelf. She loved to play cards and he usually would drive her to the community center. This particular time she said she would drive herself. When she didn’t return at the right time, he went to the center and found her waiting outside for him to pick her up with her car keys in her hand and the car less than 50 feet away.
After the diagnosis of dementia Mr. Bedotto took care of her at home with Hospice help for the first five and a half months, then had to place her in an assisted living facility. After four falls and finally a fractured hip, he decided to move her to her present place where he feels she is safer and more content. Mr. Bedotto visits her almost every day for several hours, holding her hand and showing her mementos to hopefully promote memories of their long and loving past.
Mr. Bedotto said over the last six months, the dementia has worsened rapidly. They faced many challenges together and continue to face these changes in their lives with a strong, never ending love.
Mr. Bedotto said, “I try to be as patient with her as she was with me.”