Remembering Betsy

I keep a journal, and every so often I like to look back in time and read entries from years past. A recent browse through old pages brought me to a summer day in 2014. I was at one of my favorite reading/writing spots — my local Starbucks. I know, so bland, so prosaic, but at the time it was one of the places I felt creative.

I was sitting in a comfy chair near the window, reading a book, when a woman with a cane and a man, later sixties, were looking for a place to sit. There were tables available, but all seats next to the windows were taken, and apparently I was sitting in the woman’s favorite chair.

There was something childlike about the woman’s lack of inhibition, in the way she freely and unreservedly showed her disappointment at the prospect of not sitting in her favorite place. Apparently she liked sitting near the window.

The woman didn’t act in an entitled, bratty kind of a way. There was a smile on her face when she commented to the man (whom I found out later was her husband) that all the seats were taken. Though she was smiling, I noticed it was the forced, strained smile one makes while trying to make the best of an undesired situation.

I don’t remember who spoke first, her or me, but I ended up giving my seat to her, and sat at a small table close by. She was so thrilled and so appreciative, she kissed my hand and pressed it against her cheek. A sweet gesture six years ago, but horrifying to fathom someone doing that now during Covid nation. I really miss these little human interactions.

She smiled at everyone, and there was something so simply content about her that I found comforting.

We talked for a while. Found out her name was Betsy and that she had MS, which was why she needed the cane. Her husband was a retired professor, and his love for his wife was apparent in the patient way he talked to her and helped her steady the cup of coffee to her lips.

I remember fondly how my encounter with Betsy affected my day. I feel lucky to have met her and know that a person like her existed in this world. I would see her at Starbucks again a short time later, and she was as happy to see me as I was to see her. We hugged like old friends. Her husband read a newspaper as we chatted. We talked about movies, books, mediums — anything we could think of. She was so easy to talk to because she was curious and interested in everything. It was refreshing to talk to someone so open.

She made an impact on me. She gave me a memory I can always look back on and remember as being good. I didn’t need to stumble upon a six-year old journal entry to remember Betsy, but having a reason to remember her brought a smile to my face.

There aren’t many people you randomly meet in your life who six years later can still instill in you a feeling of contented happiness when you remember the short time you spent with them.

Imagine how awesome this world would be if there were more Bestsy’s out there. I hope that now, six years later, neither her illness nor life, has wiped that beautiful smile off her face.