Betty Jean Clark is the mother of my dear friend from college, Jim. His mother is, first of all, Italian. Enough said. In addition, she is generous, compassionate, funny, a great cook and baker, and loving. She is also sacrificial. She would do anything for her friends and, most especially, her family.
I write about Betty Jean because last Wednesday, February 14, Betty Jean died suddenly, at the age of 73. It broke my heart to hear of her death. I ache for my friend, Jim and his family, especially his father, Jack. Betty Jean and Jack were high school sweethearts. She was a cheerleader. Jack was on the basketball team. I believe they even got engaged on Valentine’s Day. So, the day has significance for Jack, and how heartbreaking it must be for him.
Last Wednesday was also Ash Wednesday. A big day in the Christian and Catholic world! It’s the day we have ashes put on our forehead and are reminded that to “dust we shall return.” Betty Jean lived and died on Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day. A day this is all about love.
Just as we are reminded of the deep and sacrificial love that God showered upon us in Jesus Christ, last Wednesday takes on even greater significance because of Betty Jean. She was Christ in the flesh. She was a person who gave of herself. She was a person who lived life fully, especially on the dance floor with her beloved, Jack! She reminds me of how precious life is, and how quickly the light can be extinguished. She reminds me that every moment is to be lived deeply, passionately, lovingly, and with great strength and courage.Just as Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, a season that reminds us of just how deeply our God loves us, Betty Jean’s death is another reminder of how God has deeply loved us...through her life.
In the gospel reading from John at her funeral this past Monday, we were reminded that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life.” Betty Jean is showing me a whole new way to live life, especially in this season of Lent. To live it by following the way of Christ - with passion, grace, vitality, great food, family, friends, and most of all, love.
Mrs. Clark, until we see each other again, may God embrace you with the same great love that you loved us with in this life.