It started with a phone call in 1978. Me: “Hi, this is Nancy Holte calling. My husband met your husband at an optometric conference and well, I’m sorry, but I don’t even know how to pronounce your last name.” There was a hearty laugh at the other end of the phone line and I knew I’d found a friend in Betsy Slapnicher. You can see why I had trouble with that name! Of course, once you break it down, it’s quite easy: “Slap – ni – cher.” Well, maybe not. But, I did eventually learn how to say it.
This morning, my sweet friend, Betsy, woke up in heaven. And really, if you have to wake up somewhere new, you can’t do any better than heaven. I am thrilled for her. Betsy has been fighting cancer for something like four years now and she’d grown weary in the battle. Nonetheless, she will be greatly missed by the many, many people who loved her.
I’ve spent most of today thinking about Betsy and as you'd expect, I did a little bit of crying, but also some laughing. We had some great times together. Betsy and Joe have four boys. Their youngest is just a little bit older than our oldest so when we'd get together (usually at their house) there would be this whirlwind of activity that we just never saw with our one little guy. But we always had fun, and we always laughed. Betsy had a laugh that would spread across her face and light up a room. She and her husband, Joe, were Paul’s godparents.
One summer, Betsy and Joe bought a little cabin on a lake just outside of the Twin Cities. Shortly after they bought it, we went to spend the weekend with them. By then we had two boys and combined with their four, well, let’s just say it was busy! The door to the cabin was rarely closed, as they ran in and out, having a fabulous time while we yelled, “shut the door!” The vast amount of mosquitoes that entered the cabin through that revolving door wasn’t really noticeable until after it got dark.
Once all the kids were settled into bed we sat in the living room (which later that night became their bedroom) and suddenly found ourselves swatting at all the mosquitoes as we talked. Eventually, we made our way to bed and ours happened to be just on the other side of the living room wall. This particular wall was more of a dividing wall that didn’t go all the way up to the ceiling, which meant the pesky little biting insects had made their way into our room, also. So, what happened was we’d be almost asleep and then one of us would hear a mosquito buzzing in our ear and “slap” we’d try to kill it. It wasn’t all that funny at first but as it kept happening over and over again, we just couldn’t contain our laughter and sleeping became nearly impossible. As annoying as the mosquitoes were, the deep belly laughs that ensued were remembered long after the plethora of bites faded away.
Betsy loved her cabin; mostly, I think, because it gave their family an excuse to escape from the city for a bit and spend time together. And Betsy loved nothing more than her family.
Betsy also loved Cape Cod. She would share stories with me about the Cape and one day convinced me that I really needed to go. So, a couple of years ago my friend, Debbie, and I traveled to Massachusetts to visit Betsy's favorites spot. But don’t think I left Betsy out of the trip! This was after she got sick but her number was on my speed dial and whenever Debbie and I didn’t know what to do next, or needed a suggestion for dinner, we’d call Betsy. Betsy kept her little Cape Cod tourism book by her side and when we’d call she’d search through it to remind herself of where all the good places were; then she’d tell us what to do. It was the next best thing to being there with her.
Cape Cod is indeed a fabulous place to visit. There are even a number of songs written about it and I’ve included one in this post. It's the song that Betsy and her son danced to at his wedding two years ago. She was all smiles that night as she danced with Eric, grateful that she hadn't missed this big moment in his life. I, on the other hand, watched and sobbed silently. If you have the time, watch the video and listen to the sweet song; you’ll get to see some beautiful spots on Cape Cod.
But, as beautiful as Cape Cod is there's something I know for sure; it pales in comparison to heaven. Betsy’s going to like it there. And, one day, when I join her, I’m sure she’ll give me a tour, and tell me about all her favorite spots!