As I write this, I am in a hotel room in Central New Jersey. I drove up from Virginia this morning with Son No. 2 (the younger son, designated “No. 2" for his birth order only!) and my sister. We’re attending a memorial service for a dear friend, a woman who died earlier this year.
I met Betsy when I was in my late teens. She worked with my sister, and as the two grew close, I was drawn into their circle. She was quite a bit older than the two of us so took on a quasi-motherly role with us over time, someone I could turn to for (often brutally honest) advice. No matter the topic, I always walked away from those conversations feeling comforted, and loved.
When my kids were born, Betsy became their honorary grandmother. She attended their “Grandparent Day” events at school and joined us for all our family birthday parties, graduations and other celebrations. She filled a void that circumstances had left in their lives and became their treasured confidante.
As my kids grew and went off to college, and my husband and I moved to a different state, our contact became more and more rare. But the times we spoke on the phone or got to visit were precious. As she entered her mid-90s, and I knew life was becoming difficult for her, I told myself to prepare for the day she’d be gone. I also knew I’d never really be prepared.
Later today we’ll gather with her daughter and son, her grandchildren, nieces, nephews and other loved ones to say good-bye and to celebrate her wonderful life. I want to get up and speak, to share how special she has been to us, but I’m not a speaker and am not sure I’ll be able to.
So for now, I honor her with these words. I honor her with the knowledge that if I make even half the impact on the people in my life as she did in hers, I’ll consider myself to have done well.
Rest in peace, Betsy. You live in my heart now and in the hearts of all those you touched, and you left us all better for having known and loved you.
Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil, and the power of love. She blogs here the 6th and 22nd of the month, and tries to post tidbits of life on her Facebook page. She loves visitors!