Sunday, December 02, 2012

Live Like Betty

Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.

Because I have been in ministry for nigh on thirty three years I have listened to parishioners share just about every gloomy diagnosis possible. A disturbing variety of cancers, HIV, aneurisms, miserable diseases such as Alzheimer's and Multiple Sclerosis. You name it, I've been told about it. It is a crappy part of the job and I never get used to it. I feel the jolt of shock when good people are coming to grips with the implications of these illnesses, often when they thought they were in the fullness of life. I have learned to mask my dismay fairly well, and to talk through what this means to the individual. I encourage and pray, seeking God's presence in difficult times. I have certainly come to realize that the best physicians can only give well-informed estimates of the effects and outcomes of diseases. There are no crystal balls.

Six and a half years ago one of our beloved members, Betty, discovered that she had a cancer that tends to kill people quickly -- six months to a year. She decided to go ahead with surgery to remove as much of that cancer as possible, along with rearranging her innards to do so.

Some people thrive on speculatiing about the illnesses of others and I was privy to conversations which had Betty gone in no time. She though, decided that she would do what she needed to live, and she did so with a calm and an understated courage that impressed me in our first conversation and every one after that through the years.

I often wonder whether I would slide into depression if I got bad medical news, or just give up. There was hardly a time when I walked away from a conversation with Betty where I didn't think, and often say to my wife Ruth, I want to live like her.

Betty continued to enjoy life with her husband Don and her adult children and grandchildren, even through treatments which were debilitating. She was very social and delighted in her circle of friends. S|he took on the role of chair of the church board even though we gave her the "out" of her illness, and she stayed involved with other community leadership jobs.

I'm not trying to promote Betty to sainthood here, but folks, we could all do well to live like Betty, staying in the moment and finding the goodness in each day. The last few weeks were very difficult for her and demanding for her attentive and loving family. They rallied to bring Betty home from the hospital and from her bed she welcomed a host of family and friends with grace and humour. A circle of friends kept food pouring into the household to support them.  What a gift on the part of both family and friends to make this happen. What a gift she was to all of us.

As her energy ebbed away, and death crept closer, Betty told her daughter-in-law that life is good. It is. We can all honour her memory by following her example. She asked me to read the twenty third psalm on several occasions in the last days. She walked through the valley of the shadow of death by affirming life.Thank you Betty.


Nancy said...

You've said it all David there are no words. Rest in peace Betty.

IanD said...

Amen. What a lady, and what a loss.

Laurie said...

She will be really missed, A great Lady.

roger said...

I will think often about your message about Betty. Live like Betty indeed.

Laura said...

Our first face of St Paul's, warmly taking us in tow to the nursery, Betty put such care into everything she did. It was lovely knowing how well cared for she was through her illness. There are a few people I think I want to be like when I "grow up" and Betty is one of them. What an inspiration and what a loss. We were all definitely better for knowing Betty.

janet.rice said...

Amen to all 5 comments. We were great friends and co-grandmothers. I resolve to keep her memory alive with my/our grandsons.

Lynnof60 said...

Betty told me once that one thing that kept her going was FOMO. "What is that I asked?" She quickly replied "The Fear Of Missing Out". She lived life like that. Always game. Always busy. Always interested. Always up for a laugh.
Sle will "always" be in my heart.

David Mundy said...

This in the form of an email from reader Bill:

Betty McGregor was truly one of God's good people, doing so much for all of us. I often wonder why bad things happen to such good people. Betty will be remembered by many and remain loved by all who were fortunate to know her. If you did not know Betty I wish you had the privilege. She was truly remarkable in so many ways. I knew her as a friend, as a fellow member of. St. Pauls and I joined her and enjoyed the leadership she brought to Community Care. She will be sadly but fondly missed

May her soul rest in peace and I know there must be a special spot in heaven for our beloved Betty. Till we meet again.

willowjakmom said...

Betty's daughter told me a couple of weeks ago, that as she was being cared for at home, there was a day when she didn't wake up. Family thought that it was a sign that the end was near, but the next morning, Betty was sitting up with a smile, but *angry* that she had lost a day. I left that conversation amazed at the thought that this was a woman who had such a desire to live and was truly living in gratitude for every single minute that she could spend awake and with her friends and family, enjoying in them and in life. I hope Betty knows how inspiring she was to so many of us.

Gillian & Michael said...

Betty found the goodness in each day, as well as each moment and each person. She was a brilliant light that brought joy and warmth to many. She touched our family's hearts deeply in the short time we knew her. Thank you, Betty, for reminding us of all things good. We love you and miss you. - the Dawsons