BeeHive resident still dances, loves animals

Published 10:15 am Sunday, September 10, 2023

BROOKHAVEN — Life is a party for BeeHive resident Bettye Lewis who rocked in a chair on the front porch close to where The Dart landed Thursday. She grew up in the Loyd Star community about a mile from the school. 

Lewis graduated from Loyd Star in 1957 and went on to school at Hinds and Co-Lin Community College. She studied general studies and men as she chuckled. Her sister Jeannete Thomae nodded her head in agreement. 

Thomae said Lewis worked in Texas as an underwriter for an insurance company. Two years ago, Bettye got sick and came home to Brookhaven to live at the BeeHive close to her sister. A couple of weeks ago, Bettye made a new friend with a stray cat. 

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BeeHive Home Manager Brady Wilson said the kitten must have fallen out of a car and her mom found it. The kitten was left at the BeeHive where the residents have really taken to caring for the cat named Lucy. 

“I hold the cat. I attract animals. It is alright whatever it is, it is,” Lewis said. “They love you and it starts off your day real good. The cat chooses whoever it wants and it usually chooses to love me early in the morning and sits on my lap.” 

Residents have been feeding and loving on the cat. Over time, the cat has migrated from the back porch to the front porch where it likes to hang out with Lewis. In the mornings, Lucy will bound inside the nursing home and has fun on the furniture before dashing back out to the front porch, Wilson said. 

Lewis said she is more of a dog person and had several dogs she has loved greatly over the years. Susie, Peep, Bear and Brownie are a few of the dogs she has owned. She said she has always had animals.

Wilson said Lewis spends a great deal of time on the front porch no matter the weather. A fan is set up to keep her cool during the summer heat. Lewis said having a cat as a porch sitting buddy is a great way to start out the day 

“They just take up with you and they will choose whoever they want. Lucy likes me the most. She will come sit in my lap,” Lewis said. “I love being out on the porch. I love being outside in nature. I grew up that way. We always had a porch and were outside. As I got older that was how I wanted to live. Let it all rip.” 

Lewis comes from a large family with five sisters and three brothers. She described it as “quite a herd,” but they “get along good.” Aside from rocking on the front porch, Lewis is a big talker and loves to sing. 

Without hesitation, Lewis started singing Kenny Roger’s song “Lucile.” 

“You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille, with four hungry children and a crop in the field,” Lewis sang. 

Wilson said one of Lewis’s favorite quotes is “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” 

Lewis still sings and dances with a carefree spirit. Last year for her birthday, she had a dance party and managed to hurt her hip. She plans to dance again this year. 

“I just live it up everyday. I love to dance to rock and roll. I can get low with it,” she said. “Let the good times roll.” 

Residents are able to take care of plants at the BeeHive and Lewis has two plants she makes sure get plenty of water. Wilson said they try to make the place feel like home and having a cat and plants is one of the ways they do so. 

Lewis said if she goes anywhere she appoints someone to water her plants. “And they better be watering them well.” 

This October 14, Lewis said she will be turning 84 years old. Looking back on her life, she said she would not change anything. 

“Life is what you make of it,” Lewis said. “You can either be happy or a hardass. I choose to be happy.”