The Revd Betty Garrett died earlier this week.
Betty was a mentor to me as a young priest. She was never my Rural Dean nor my Archdeacon, but that meant that she was someone I could talk to outside my "chain of command." She came down from Moosomin to Carnduff and metaphorically held my hand as I presided at my first funeral - as it happened, the funeral of her childhood friend. She came up from Whitewood to Esterhazy to baptize my children so that I could participate in the rite as a parent. In her time at Whitewood, I stopped more than once for coffee and encouragement.
But my favourite Betty Garrett story happened when I went to the hospital in Brandon to visit her husband, Bob, in the hospital. As Bob drifted off to sleep, Betty and I decided to go for coffee.
All the best stories begin with, "Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time."
And it did.
Finding no coffee shop open near the hospital, we decided to go to the pub and have a beer. A white haired older lady (who I realize would have been no more than a year or two older than I am today) and a young priest in a clerical collar. You couldn't tell to look at her that Betty was a priest, but it makes for a better story.
We sat ourselves down at a table near the back of the bar. The waitress seemed a bit taken aback; a respectable looking older woman and a young priest. But we ordered our beer, and in due course, the waitress brought it.
It was only as we got towards the end of our glass - that point when you have to decide whether to order another or not - that the situation became clear.
The DJ announced the next dancer.
And the young woman came out on stage . . .
Betty and I looked at the stage, looked at each other, and decided that it was time to leave.
Of all the older priests who supervised, mentored or helped to form me, Betty was the only one who ever took me to a strip club - if only by accident.
Rest in Peace, Betty.