Betty was a phenomenal wife, friend, and partner. She spent time with everyone she ever interacted with, getting to know them on a deeply intimate and personal level. Her favorite pastimes included gardening, knitting, playing chess, and running marathons. Who would have thought such a tiny woman would engage others in marathon running? When I first met Betty I figured she might be a petite, small, homemaker. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When we first started talking, within the first ten minutes of our conversation Betty began talking about her 26 mile runs. At that point, I nearly “ran” away. But Betty was cute and clever about it, and encouraged me instead to go for short walks with her. I agreed, but told her that I would never run with her.
She never pressured me, but during the course of our friendship I eventually took up short 5k runs. I would attend her marathons, and cheer her on. I never did become a marathon runner, although I would engage in other “marathon” activities, including marathon chess sessions, as apparently Betty had quite the ability in this capacity.
It came as quite a shock when Betty’s game started slipping. At first, Betty didn’t seem to mention it. When her daughter spoke to me about it, I thought perhaps that Betty was simply playing one of her games, but when I realized that Betty was sometimes upset, it was then that we realized that Alzheimer’s may be playing with Betty.
Despite the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, Betty remained an inspiration to those she interacted with on a daily basis. The thing I loved most about Betty was her smile. Each time that I went to see her, something that never faded from Betty was that grin of hers. I developed a “new” way to play chess that allowed Betty to continue to win each and every time.
What was kind of fun about Betty was that in her new state, I could become a marathon runner. We agreed in her clear moments that it was ok for me to play the role of marathon runner, that it would not make any difference.
That is one of the things that I love most about Betty, was her capacity to love, and simply go with the flow. While many people had a hard time with Betty’s changes, Betty seemed to care less. She referred to her new state as simply a journey into a strange new world. She told me that all of life is a journey, and even in the hereafter, she expected that she would be visiting strange new worlds and new places, and simply looking down on us as she ran marathons from invisible worlds in faraway places. If that is true Betty, then I salute you, and hope you are having fun as you look down on us from your invisible new world.
Thank you for always keeping us on our toes, and making life an interesting and exciting place, where anything was possible.