Endings happen all the time. The end of the work week means we celebrate the weekend. The end of Konnor’s swim lessons means a promotion into the next level class. The end of August signals the end of summer and beginning of the fall season.
This week I’m using my Mondays with Mimi platform to honor another ending…the end of my friend’s life on earth, which means she is now living in a new and better place, that she is at peace, out of pain and with a brand new body! No more chemo, no more weariness, no more brain tumor. Just the glories of eternal life with God!
Betsy Spencer passed from this life to the next yesterday on her 54th birthday. And I fully expect that each year on her birthday we won’t remember her with sadness but with joy—of knowing her and of the life of Christ she modeled to everyone, everywhere, every day.
I met Betsy nearly 11 years ago, just after her first bout with a brain tumor. Colorful scarves and hats adorned her head for many months. After all, this is a very proper southern lady who was always completely put together whenever she stepped outside.
Within a year we were not only church friends but work pals as well when we both ended up working for the same organization for the next five years. It was here that I discovered the real Betsy. Warm, fiercely proud and protective of her family, giving, tender-hearted, and genuinely kind. This is the Betsy I know and love so deeply. And her kindness is the one characteristic I most admire and aspire to have in my life, too.
Betsy’s funny side often surfaced and I especially loved her explanation behind the meaning of “Bless your heart” which she often used in conversation. As a northerner, I had no idea what it meant but one day she explained a bit more as we laughed together at the explanation you’ll find on the internet, which states:
“’Bless your heart’ is a form of empathy. It’s like giving someone a great, big hug. (This is the way Betsy most often used the term.) In the South, we believe in being polite even if it kills us. So, when we just can’t fight the urge to say something nasty, we follow it up with a ‘bless her heart’ just to make us feel better. ‘Look at that poor woman trying to jog around that track. Her rear-end is dragging a trail, bless her heart.’” (And yes, on rare occasion, Betsy also used the expression this way! J
The explanation continues: “Probably the most important way we use ‘bless your heart’ is so we can identify each other. When I’m far from home and feeling all alone, I just throw out a few ‘bless your hearts’ into the conversation and see what happens. If the person I’m talking to gets this confused look… then I just go on to the next person…until finally I hear that familiar twang that’s sweeter than a melody and then come those beautiful words ‘Well, bless your heart.’ That’s when I know I’m home—even though I’m a thousand miles away.”
So my dear friend, who I’ll miss like crazy, I’m happy for you, because after a well-lived life on earth, you’ve now found your way home. And I just have a feeling that what you heard the Lord saying as you exchanged this life for eternity, were the words “Well-done, Betsy, bless your heart!”
I love you.