|Betsy and Norma Leistiko on Ann Halprin's dance deck in Marin|
As a dancer, Betsy was into participation and she had lots of friends. So whatever spectacle we watched or listened to in San Francisco, Betsy usually know some of the performers (and often was one). So afterwards we would go backstage and mix with the people who put on the show. For both of us, access to the backstage was a special treat, a deeper connection to the magic than merely being part of the audience. Altho I was never much of a performer in my youth, I was an altar boy for many years at our Catholic church in Ohio and participated both backstage and on the altar in the magic of manifesting God Himself in the guise of bread and wine.
When we made the decision to share our lives, I drove from Boulder Creek to El Rito, New Mexico where Betsy was living in a meadow with a hippie band called Daddy Longlegs. With her gift for making friends she had connected with many cultures including Pueblo Indians, anthropologists, hippie communes, Hispanic-Americans and peyote church people. Consequently she took me into many backstages that I had only read about in books. To repay her in kind, I made a connection with a physics colleague at Los Alamos National Laboratory and his name got Betsy and I past the guard house of the place where the first atomic bomb was made. I was wearing a tie, Betsy put on her finest hippie garb and we spent an afternoon backstage in a lab that was investigating "linear-pinch fusion".
In Boulder Creek, our first friends were music and theater people, so we spent much time backstage. Betsy was always joining or founding dance groups. At the time of her death she was participating in two groups she had helped start, and barely a year before she left this planet, she performed a major role in a full-length dance performance at a jazz club in Santa Cruz.
Betsy died at home from complications surrounding breast cancer. Her neighbors, her home-school friends, her dance and theater friends, her friends who were esoteric healers, her marijuana friends all came backstage to visit, to witness and to be actors in Betsy's last performance. One of Betsy's great talents was the ability to be fully present and to share that gift of enhanced presence with whomever she was with.
I prefer to sleep late but Betsy was an early bird. She liked to get up early, make coffee and sit by the kitchen window with a cat on her lap while putting her thoughts in a notebook. From the notebook of Betsy Rose Rasumny Herbert:
THE CHAMBERS OF MY HEART
The chambers of my heart:
Kitchen, parlor, boudoir, attic, den
Hallway, basement, study, bathroom.
The chambers of my heart:
Rooms for receiving guests.
|Betsy at home on Stanyan St, San Francisco, in the '60s|