You didn’t have to look hard to find her, Mrs. Betty of Bloomfield. She sat in the same seat every Sunday morning at 10:45. In the middle of the row directly in front of the sound booth. You would think she would be easily overlooked. She stood barely five feet tall, with her gray head of hair done in an old fashioned way and a sweater on in the middle of summer because of the chill in the worship center. Her husband stood by her side every week. She stood when the congregation stood. She lifted her fragile, aging hands in worship to the God of her life, her Lord Jesus Christ, as she sang each and every hymn.
She was one of the first people who welcomed me to the church our first Sunday at First Baptist Bloomfield. She walked over and greeted me and let me in on her little secret: “You’re going to need a sweater in here!” she chuckled.
The next week, there she was again. Sitting in her same seat, with her sweater, and her husband. She raised her hands in worship. When the welcome came, I didn’t expect her to remember me, but she did. She gave me a hug and smiled “You remembered to wear sleeves this week.” My heart was warmed, “Yes! I took your advice.”
I watched her closely that service. Amazed at her joy of life in being in the house of the Lord. I want to be like her. I thought to myself. Small in stature, but strong in spirit.
The next week was the same.
Same seat. Same joy.
But this greeting time as she came to give me my hug, she grabbed hold of my hands and said in her sweet, cracking voice “Remind me of your name again sweetie.” Ironically, I had just been asking Joshua if he happened to know her name. We had greeted each other a few weeks now, and had never gotten the other’s name. “Libby,” I said. She repeated, “Libby, I’m Betty. It’s nice to get your name.”
That would be the last communication I had with Mrs. Betty.
Due to sicknesses in our family, the girls and I were out of church for a couple weeks.
One day during a normal conversation, I mentioned to Joshua just how much I loved Mrs. Betty and how she had quickly stolen my heart and become my favorite person at the church.
Joshua froze in his tracks and his eyes got wide.
“Mrs. Betty?” he asked me, “do you know her last name?”
“No,” I replied, fearing what was coming next, “Don’t tell me she died??”
“I think she had a stroke and moved to hospice care.”
He returned to work and verified with the rest of the staff that it was indeed my Mrs. Betty who had suffered a stroke. She had been moved to hospice care out of city and her and her husband most likely would not be back.
My heart broke, but I held on to the hope that I just might possibly see her again and began to brainstorm something I could maybe do for her even though she was about an hour away now.
And then only a couple days later, Joshua sent me a text from work that Mrs. Betty had passed away. God had called her home.
I’m still trying to process the news. I haven’t had someone’s death impact me so much since my grandfather’s passing more than six years ago.
I only spoke to Mrs. Betty a few times, and never more than a few seconds at a time.
But every Sunday morning, during the 10:45 service, I could count on a sweet hug and a kind word from Mrs. Betty.
I will miss those hugs now as I sit in that church service, but I have no doubt that even now Mrs. Betty is raising strong hands in praise of God the Father. She is no longer sitting in the center of of the row right in front of the sound booth, but now standing strong before the throne of the one she spent her life worshiping.
Even more now, I want to be like Mrs. Betty from Bloomfield.