What can we learn from people before us?
My friend, Betty, died of ALS. She was 85.
Betty played Bridge, was a curler, played golf and knitted up a storm. She was a friend, mother, grandmother and loved her husband, George (previously departed), until the day she died. They were happy and they were a rare couple that everyone loved to be around because they spread joy. How exactly do you spread joy? You don’t judge people, you’re happy that they have come to visit.. you make your happiness about them and how you love their company. That’s what George and Betty excelled at.
George and Betty have four children: Barb, Tom, Jim and Dave.. I’m sorry, I don’t know who was the oldest and who was the youngest… to their parents they were always loved and treated equally. They were a family unit that dysfunctional families were envious of – and a family that all parents and children can aspire to. George and Betty spent their lives teaching their family to treat people without prejudice, with love, fairness and caring.
It sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? In this world full of wars, hate and unfairness, it seems difficult to believe in people that were just that good.
Let me tell you what I know of Betty and what I learned from being at the funeral today.
Betty did things for people not because it made her grander, not because she would be more respected… but because she loved people and she was happy when they were happy.
She made favorite foods for people stopping in.. not her favourite but their favourite. She watched ice hockey because her children and her husband loved ice hockey… it was years later they found out she didn’t care about it. She hoped for a good future but never took it fore granted. When she was sick, she thought that if this day was the worst she would feel then she would be grateful. Of course, she would feel worse but never burden her family with ALS because she knew they would already be sick with worry about her.
Are there many people like this in the world? I fear not. BUT if she could inspire those around her and her family.. then there is hope.
When I watch the TV and the news tells us of all the terrible things happening in the world, I will remember a woman who made me feel special.. who made everyone feel special..and that is why there were over 200 people at her funeral, people stood and paid their respects… because they loved her and knew that we were all lucky to know a wonderful, caring human being, who made us feel like all the depressing news was somehow taken away for a brief moment because there was a shining light in our midst.
There was a loss today but there was also a gain. Betty made everyone in that funeral home feel that life was not only important but something to be celebrated and cherished.
It was a good news day. A person left a legacy today and we can all move forward to spread Betty’s message that volunteerism, caring for others, happiness and thankfulness are part of our lives too, they wash out the sadness and the pain and remind us that as humans we are capable of great acts.