Few obituaries convey the fulness of the person. And I know my little eulogy will fall short.
When Betty came to central Missouri and I met her, she was already a senior citizen. She had lost the husband and the love of her life, whom she had loved for many decades. But she was full of joy and hope. And she found another beloved soulmate, whom she married here. From Betty, I learned much about true love and commitment and hope.
I was blessed to be a part of the "Flamingoes" -- a group of five women who met twice a month for fun and chat and spiritual exploration. Betty was our oldest member, but also [it seemed to me] our most vibrant and optimistic. She had an ebullient sense of humor, always ready to laugh. When we met at her home, she delighted in the meals she provided and in the cocktail hour too.
Betty had a seeking, open, joyous soul. In her 70s and 80s, she dismissed the conservative dissidents in our church. She embraced the poor, the outcast, the rejected. She embraced gay and lesbian couples, accepting their love as just like her own. Betty seemed to love all God's creatures with a tenderness and ferocity that I can only admire.
Betty was a tiny woman with a great, huge, feisty heart. She loved me, when I was not sure my own parish loved me. She accepted me and my partner when our church did not seem to do so.
When I was with Betty, I sensed I was close to God. For it was clear to me -- it was palpable -- that she was on a first-name basis with God. Betty was a holy woman. It was clear to me that she walked and talked and laughed with God. And she probably told God the crazy things that some people were doing in God's name.
I haven't known many people I would call "saints." I haven't known many people whose lives were transparent with the Holy Spirit. But Betty was one. I shall not see her like again. She died in this world Monday night. I have no doubt that there was a great festival in heaven that night. Rejoicing in heaven, while we mourned our loss.
I believe Betty is now in God's heavenly kingdom, and I like to imagine what that's like for her. I bet she is awestruck at the glory of seeing God, now face to face. But I also bet she is hard at work, telling God and the angels about the people she treasures here still on this earth.
As luck would have it, my sister today reminded me of this song. I played it again and again. I think Betty would like it. More to the point, it reminds me of her - of her great faith, her great soul, her great compassion.
Play it here. An awesome rendition of Amazing Grace. (The server won't let me embed it.)