Sid and Betty Yawn: A love story from the heart

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 14, 2007

The similarities are startling between the 2004 movie The Notebook and Sid and Betty Yawn's love story.

From Allie's love of painting in the movie, to her end stages of Alzheimer's, she and Betty Yawn's life share an amazing resemblance.

Sid Yawn, when recounting their storybook marriage, might well have quoted Noah in the movie, when he said, &#8220I have succeeded as gloriously as anyone who's ever lived; I've loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough.”


met his future wife in Houston, Texas, in 1950 when he was 26, after a shoulder injury had ended his professional minor league baseball career.

His immediate infatuation with her that summer brings to mind another quote from Noah in The Notebook movie.

&#8220Summer romances begin for all kinds of reasons, but when all is said and done, they have one thing in common.

They're shooting stars, a spectacular moment of light in the heavens, fleeting glimpses of eternity, and in a flash they're gone.”

And Sid realized Betty's beauty and talents afforded her the option of any suitor of her choosing.

&#8220I maneuvered around her that summer, without speaking directly to her,” he said.

&#8220Because she was with someone else, I adored her from afar and exposed my heart whenever our eyes met.

Her dazzling blue eyes and half smile allured me back, until finally we found ourselves alone.

I immediately confessed to her that if dating her wasn't going to lead to marriage, I'd opt for the lesser hurt and walk away now.”


said that Betty responded with a question.

&#8220Are you asking me to marry you?”

Astonished, he exclaimed, &#8220Yes.”

She then informed him she'd need 30 days to get ready.

A month later they became man and wife.


was in constant awe of his beautiful wife's talents.

She modeled professionally and worked as a fashion coordinator for a posh Houston department store.

She was also degreed from the fashionable Feather and Feather Art and Fashion College in Houston, and a clothing designer.

He was further amazed to discover she danced, played piano by ear, wrote poetry and painted beautifully, while throwing herself wholeheartedly into being an extraordinary mom to their two children, Nan and Bob.

In later years, she was a sought-after beauty pageant judge, and one of the panel of judges for the Miss Mississippi Beauty Pageant the year Mary Ann Mobley won the title of Miss Mississippi and went on to become Miss America.

Betty excelled almost effortlessly in everything she did.

She played golf like a pro, winning several trophies, and once getting a coveted hole-in-one.


said even though he moved his family many times, she never complained.

&#8220I always managed to keep my family in an upscale neighborhood,” he said, &#8220with a membership in a local country club, mainly because of the golf course we both loved so much. When we finally moved back home to Texas, Betty became an art director for a large advertising company.

She had eight young artists working for her, and she really did some incredible artwork and sketches.”

In 2003, the Yawns retired and moved to Luverne, where their son, Reverend Bob Yawn, was pastor of the Rutledge United Methodist Church. Betty had already begun having small memory lapses, forgetting familiar people and places, and being unable to find even simple everyday objects.

He said she became more and more agitated, and began having more prominent personality changes after their move to Luverne.


said in reflection, &#8220It was difficult to place an exact timetable on her progression of symptoms.

She became so childlike,ŠShe was unable to even dress or undress herself.

But, they don't put all that stuff in the movies,” he added.

&#8220They sugarcoat it.”

When he reached the point of having to stay with her all the time, he confronted her doctor for a firm diagnosis of her symptoms.

&#8220It sucked the life out of me to learn my beautiful, talented wife had Alzheimer's,” Yawn


&#8220I had dreaded the diagnosis because I had seen her mother's symptoms before she died of Alzheimer's.”

He acknowledges that Alzheimer's is a difficult diagnosis for doctors to make, and knows that one of the main factors is heredity.

A family history, especially a parent, places a person at high risk, but does not always mean that a person will get Alzheimer's.

Sid Yawn clearly recommends that you make your end-of-life wishes known to your spouse, and he feels confident that he and his wife did that.

Their daughter, Nan Deboard of Texas, said her mother was her role model and teacher, and always had an understanding voice at the other end of the line.

She said she's suffered an inconsolable loss – her mother no longer knows her.

Their son, Rev. Robert Yawn of Dothan, revels in the fact that God gave him such a wonderful, loving and talented mother. Her greatest talent was being a loving, caring mother.

Recently he encouraged his dad to return to his golf game, but his father knows there is time in the future for those things; therefore, he continues his twice daily trips to the nursing home.

&#8220On my visits I kiss her, I tell her how much I love her, what beautiful blue eyes she has and what a sweet smile she has.

When someone asks why I go see her so much when she doesn't know me, I tell them I have to.

‘That's my sweetheart and wherever she is, that's where my heart is, and I want to be there.'

I know I am slowly losing the most precious gift God ever gave me,” he said.

The Yawns will celebrate their 57th wedding anniversary September 26, 2007.

Betty Yawn is a resident of the Luverne Health and Rehab.