Yesterday at 6:40pm, my dear mother-in-law graduated to heaven.   She finally saw her Lord and Savior face to face.  Oh what a great reunion that must have taken place!

When I look back at Betty Lou’s life, I can definitely say it has been blessed.  She came from a family that worked hard and loved hard.   She was the youngest of two other siblings, both of whom went to heaven ahead of her.   She married the love of her life and had two children and four grandchildren.   She was so proud of her family.

I have been with Ms. Betty Lou since the young age of 20.   At that age, the first thing that stood out to me about her was her ability to laugh!   She knew how to find joy in the simple things of life and lived life to the fullest!   She seemed very secure and in charge in all areas.

I know it wasn’t easy for her to share her son.   I don’t know that any mom knows how to prepare herself for that moment when her little boy finds a spouse, but she loved me.   She was also a sweet connection to my own family since she spent many nights sleeping under my grandmother and granddaddy’s roof as a childhood friend of my aunt.    I loved the fact that she was a tangible piece of my own sweet grandparent’s lives.

Ms. Betty Lou was welcoming and truly had the gift of hospitality.   I remember our first Thanksgiving as a married couple, Ms. Betty Lou surprised me by inviting my parents (along with others who might not have local families) to join our meal.   We were married just before Thanksgiving and I was already a little homesick.  She was thoughtful to think of that.

She was a very generous woman who loved to cook good southern food and bake her famous pound cake. I can’t count the number of pound cakes she baked just in my years of being in her family.   Seriously, she gave them away weekly to people.   She gave everything to everyone.  She would bring gifts of trinkets or food each time she came to our door and it was nearly impossible to leave her home empty handed.

I will forever think of Ms. Betty Lou when I remember the days of singing in the choir.  She was a fellow alto and faithfully sang until the last few years of her life.   During the many years we sat next to one another, she would grab my hand during prayer.  It was then that she often took a quick peek of the sanctuary to see who was at church that day.   Ha.   She was something else for sure!   She wanted everyone to be at church each Sunday and wondered where they were if they weren’t there.   I bet she contacted them during the week to find out if they were okay.

As a family, we have so many funny stories of her life that we can remember and share.    I’m sure each person who shared life with her has their own list of tales!   One of the strangest things that shocked me when I visited her during UNC Tarheel basketball games was her passion.   Seriously, she cheered and shouted at the television as if she was seated next to Dean Smith!  She encouraged us all to join in with her hoots and hollers.   It was strangely funny to me, but that is just another example of her love of life and laughter.  It wouldn’t surprise me if she has already met Mr. Smith in heaven.

Sugar buckets, bird feeders, country crocks, pound cake,  Tarheels, hymns, gardens, chow chow, tomato sandwiches, potato salad, chicken salad, turnip greens, and southern hospitality will always remind me of Ms. Betty Lou!

She loved her family, her church, and loved Jesus!

Loving Jesus is what mattered the most.

Goodbye for now Ms. Betty Lou.   We will see you again one day.   I am so thankful you are whole and full of true life now.