Family makes up for a missed memorable birthday

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published September 3, 2021

 Betty Lyman turned 95 years old last year during the height of COVID-19, so her family had to put  her celebration on hold. This year, her celebration, along with a family get-together,  was held Aug. 21 at River Bends Park in Shelby Township.

Betty Lyman turned 95 years old last year during the height of COVID-19, so her family had to put her celebration on hold. This year, her celebration, along with a family get-together, was held Aug. 21 at River Bends Park in Shelby Township.

Photo by provided by Nanette Lehman

 From left, Christine Murrel, Nanette Lyman Lehman, Roger Lyman, Deborah Licari, Claudia Maurin and Victor Lyman take a photo Aug. 21 with their mother, Betty Lyman.

From left, Christine Murrel, Nanette Lyman Lehman, Roger Lyman, Deborah Licari, Claudia Maurin and Victor Lyman take a photo Aug. 21 with their mother, Betty Lyman.

Photo by provided by Nanette Lehman

Advertisement

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — Birthdays were a little different last year for everyone, whether they were held virtually or socially distanced. Now that regulations have loosened, birthdays are being held more like they were before the pandemic.

Betty Lyman’s 95th birthday was put on hold last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, she will be turning 96, and her family combined her celebration along with a family get-together and called it her 96.5 birthday and reunion on Aug. 21 at River Bends Park.

She was born on April 12, 1925, and married her husband on Oct. 24, 1941, in Detroit. He passed away in January 2000 at the age of 81. They started their family in 1942, which would eventually grow to nine children in all — four boys and five girls. They have dozens of grandchildren and great grandchildren, with the newest great grandchild due to arrive in January 2022.

Sixty-five family members and friends came out to the park to enjoy an afternoon with her for her special birthday.

Wendy Leman, one of Betty Lyman’s grandchildren, said that, although her grandma didn’t have a lot of expensive items to show from over the years, she had a lot of love and family members to happily surround herself with.

“My grandma is a force to be reckoned with. She grew up in Detroit with very little but has become a very rich woman in her 96 years. Her riches may not include gold, jewels or even all that much money, but she is rich in love and family. This was quite clear on Saturday at her birthday party, where she was surrounded by four generations, five including herself, of loving family members. How lucky we all are to still have her in our lives, and how lucky we are as a family to be led by such a strong and beautiful woman,” Leman said via email.

Claudia Maurin, one of Lyman’s daughters, said her mother has come a long way from when she was a child, and that she is still a wonderful mom to this day.

“Let me start with the fact that my mother has been a wonderful mother, grandmother and great grandmother. She came from a miserable childhood where she was basically neglected by her parents, who abandoned her when they went to join the circus when she was 14 1/2 years old,” Maurin said via email.

That was when Lyman met the man who would become her husband, and she was taken in by his parents, and that was when their love bloomed and the two of them stayed together for 59 years until his death.

“We (children) were all taken care of, and we were all given love. We didn’t have much, but we were always fed and were clean. Mom said, ‘Soap and water was cheap.’ We did not go on vacations; instead, we went on picnics together. Mom was a strong lady who we all knew we could not mess with. I once saw her pick my older brother off the floor when he mouthed off to her. Mom was not the best cook, but we never went to bed hungry. She always said that if you don’t like it, there’s peanut butter and jelly,” she said.

She said their house was always full of extra kids.

Mom didn’t mind; she cared for them and fed them. Mom continued to live in this large home for 14 more years, after my dad passed, until she bought her own condo. The condo was a big step — she had never purchased anything this large on her own before, and she was very proud of herself. She is now living in a senior apartment where she loves to have her children and grandchildren come to visit her. Her love for reading keeps her busy most days,” she said.

She said that her family is very proud to be able to spend time with her at 96.

“Mom is very healthy for 96, and we are all very proud of her,” said Maurin.

Advertisement