The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met

By Patti Parish-Kaminski –

On Saturday, July 6th, the flame flickered on Bev’s Burner and ultimately, extinguished.  For those of us who had the privilege to know Bev Carter, it was a sad and thought-provoking day.

My mind immediately went to the first time I met Bev several years ago.  We were attending the Chairman’s Gala for the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce. Tim and I arrived at our table, and there sat Bev.  We introduced ourselves, though I knew who she was, and Bev immediately insisted that I sit next to her.  That was the first of many functions where Bev would say, “Patti, sit next to me so we can talk about people.”  Honestly, it was more like sit next to her so she could ask me who people were when she couldn’t recall their names.  So, I accepted that very first invitation to sit next to her.  I summoned up the courage – because you know I was scared – and sat down.  Sure enough, she took a photo of the table and put it in the paper. She even spelled my name correctly. And so began my relationship with Bev Carter.

A surprised Bev Carter with David Wallaceat a Sugar Land Cultural Arts Gala.

A surprised Bev Carter with David Wallace at a Sugar Land Cultural Arts Gala.

As the years progressed, we attended many functions, and yes, I sat next to her quite a bit. It was downright entertaining. One year at the Cultural Arts Gala, unbeknownst to her, the skit involved Bev. David Wallace began a soliloquy that I quickly deduced involved calling out Bev. I told her, “Get ready.  He’s talking about you.” She promptly scooted her chair back, lifted up the tablecloth, and said, “Patti, help me get under the table!” Fortunately, I was able to talk her out of crawling under the table because frankly, if she got under there, I knew we couldn’t get her out. When Dave called her up on stage, Bev was delighted with the exchange, and the guests loved it.  She was the star of the show.

I was fortunate to be able to spend some very special times with Bev.  On Christmas Eve two years ago, I invited the Fredrickson family to share the holiday with my family and close friends at our home.  We had spent Thanksgiving with them at the river, and my son, Kolton, fell in love with Bev’s dressing. So, I called Bev and asked her to e-mail me her recipe because frankly, my culinary skills are somewhat limited.  She sent me her recipe – though I think she may have made it up because she insisted she really didn’t have one – and I commenced to shopping.

The day before Christmas Eve, Lisa told me that Bev wasn’t coming to my house.  I called Bev, and she said she just wasn’t up to it. I promptly informed her that her entire family would be at my house Christmas Eve, and I was not going give her a reason to write about me hijacking them on Christmas Eve while she was at home alone. I told her I would send someone to pick her up.  Kathryn picked her up, and we shared a blessed Christmas Eve.

For the past year and a half, Bev would call me from time to time.  For some reason, the 7:30 to 8:30 am was the magic hour she would call. I was usually putting on my makeup, so I would set the phone down and put it on speaker. Our phone conversations consisted of her immediately firing off two to three questions, allowing me to respond briefly and then, she would tell me what to think. They were usually one-sided conversations; Bev talked, I listened.  And they were always entertaining.  She would fuss about carpool, local politicians, the Republicans, her kids – whatever was on her mind.

A few months ago after one of these conversations, Bev wrote something in her column that I had said. Of course, I didn’t say it. I called her and said, “Bev, I didn’t say that.  I was with you when someone said it to you, but it wasn’t me.” Her response? “Well, somebody said it. It might as well have been you.”

Bev Carter and Tony Snow

Bev Carter and Tony Snow

The last time Bev came to our home was at the beginning of June.  Lisa came by, and Jack and Bev were in the car. She was sporting a pink turban and pink hat; she looked quite stylish. She had to tell me about being pulled over by the Sugar Land Police Department on her way home from the grocery store. In typical Bev fashion, she told me that shortly after the officer ran her license and plates, another patrol car pulled up. She was incensed the officer had called for back up! I told her that the bloods were red, the crypts were blue but those pinks, those cancer survivors, they were one tough gang, and since she was sporting so much pink, he must have thought she was a pink.  Well, she thought that was funny and recanted the story in her column that week. And for the record, I can totally commiserate with the SLPD calling for back up. I had to call for Bev back up many times over the years. Of course, I always called Lisa.

300-fernandoI will miss Bev’s phone calls.  I will miss her poignant, witty sense of humor. I will miss her unique perspective on community and world events. I will miss anxiously opening up the paper to make sure I wasn’t mentioned in her column. I will miss holidays with Bev because after all, she taught my children how to gamble.  It’s a life skill, not something they typically learn at a Baptist school.  The last July 4th we were together, Kassidi and Kolton rounded up their money. They put coins in Ziploc baggies so they would be ready to play with Ms. Bev, Kathryn, Carter and Jack. The game didn’t last very long.  I asked Bev why they weren’t playing cards any more. She told me that Kassidi had cleaned everybody out.  I said, “Well Bev, isn’t that what you taught her to do?”  I can still hear her husky laugh, tickled that yes, that’s exactly what she had taught Kassidi to do.

Reader’s Digest Magazine had a regular feature for years:  “The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met.”  For me, that character is Bev Carter.  I laughed with her, I cried with her when she lost Sherry, I debated with her, I learned from her.  She remains a role model for me, and I am a better person for knowing her.

I can only imagine the joyous wonders Bev is enjoying in heaven.  I’m sure she’s in awe of the beauty, enjoying the blue, red and purple butterflies. I can also see her questioning, “Where are the black butterflies? What about the brown ones or the yellow ones?  Aren’t they represented?  Who do I need to talk to about that?”

Yes, move over Mike Wallace, Tony Snow, Andy Rooney.  There’s a new journalist in town.  B. K. Carter is in the house.