Once or twice in your lifetime your path crosses with someone truly extraordinary.
I consider myself lucky enough to say that 6 months before I was born, my family moved into a house next door to one of those extra special people and she has played a huge part in my life over the last 36 years. She has always been there for us and us for her.
Betty has been family to me ever since I can remember, she took me to Sunday School when I was just 2 years old and has prayed for me diligently ever since ... in fact I often 'blame' her for being where I am and doing what I'm doing right now (her prayers are that good!)!! With no blood family of her own, she has been part of our family for my whole life!
Sadly for us, this weekend she became one of heavens newest recruits.
To imagine life back in the UK without her, is to imagine something that doesn't seem possible. When you think of Betty you think of someone who just keeps going and going ... she was only a couple of years away from receiving a telegram from the queen on her birthday. She was a keen gardener and used to deliver flowers to and 'look after' her old ladies who were often a decade or two younger than her. The week before she died she was still in her garden and the day before, she went out to lunch with my mum at the local garden centre.
While she never left the UK (she didn't own a passport), in fact, she barely left the south east of England. Her prayers reached the ends of the earth. Not just for me and my family but also for several other missions and mission partners. Some of whom like me, as children went through sunday school with her as the teacher, something she did for decades teaching different generations within the same families. Leaving a legacy that goes way beyond words.
Yesterday trying to explain death and grief to Abigail who is not quite 5, was interesting. We were talking about Betty and when I told her that Betty was up in heaven with Jesus (which beyond any shadow of a doubt she is!), Abigail was quick to ask 'Is she happy?'. Without hesitation I replied that yes, she was very happy. Again Abigail was quick to respond with 'If she is happy than why are you sad? She's in heaven with Grammie, one day you will be there too and then I will join you and we'll all be together again.'
It is so simple really when you see it though a child's eye. But it doesn't make grieving for someone so loved any easier, especially at a time when as a family we're so far away. Heaven is rejoicing right now though as our loss is their gain ... and they most certainly gained an extra special angel in Betty!