Betty Bishop was a woman that lived and worked in Highland County her entire life. Up until the last few years, until her retirement, if you didn’t know her you at least knew who she was. She was like Ron Burgundy, “she was kind of a big deal.”
There were many Facebook posts and articles in both local papers about her accomplishments, various awards and many other things after she passed away on Dec. 5 at the age of 84. Some of them were big and some were small, but there were so many. She played major roles in Hillsboro, Greenfield, Shaffer Park, her church, the school (as a bus driver), and many others. They all totaled probably more than most of us could do in two lifetimes, but she did them all in just one. It was like she could do almost anything she tried.
But, being part of her family for some 40-odd years, I know that there were many things she could not do at all. Even if she tried.
Betty could not sing. I sat beside her before in church and the sounds she made come out of her mouth felt like she hit you with a hammer. It was a sound that Jr. Sample on “Hee Haw” I am sure could have done much better. It was so bad that when you heard it, it made you not want to sing anymore. Just like watching a train wreck. You just couldn’t stop and get the voice out of your head.
Betty was not graceful. I never saw her dance, but would bet my last nickel that she couldn’t. She did not even have a graceful stride. She was like the bull in the China shop. In all she did, it was head down and full speed ahead.
Betty also could not tell a story that kept the listener interested. She was born Betty Countryman. I am not sure if it’s a recorded thing or not, but she had what I call the “Countryman Draw.” Some of you know exactly what I mean. It’s difficult to explain. It’s strategically placed with very long pauses throughout a story. Where and why they are used, I have no idea. And when you use them, you must close your eyes and look up. They can last from five to 30 seconds each. After the second or third pause, the listener hasn’t the foggiest clue what the story is about, but the teller is enjoying it like no other story ever told.
I am not sure if you must have Countryman blood in you to have this gift or not, but I have not seen it used by anyone else, or to the magnitude as Betty.
Betty could not relax. After her last retirement, you could see her outside in the yard tending to the flowers that she so dearly treasured. My flower knowledge is not as good as most, but all I know is there were a lot of them.
On Tuesdays, she would spend her time volunteering at her church answering the phones and writing cards of encouragement. Wednesdays, you may have seen her at the local nursing homes and the hospital visiting everyone that stayed there. She would spend the entire day each week just being a listening and caring ear. On Thursday she would do home visits to shut-ins and friends that she felt needed her company.
But, to make this very simple, the thing at the top of the list of things she couldn’t do was to say no to someone she could help. It just wasn’t in her to pass on an opportunity to help. Whatever the cost, she was willing to at least give it a try.
Though she had received many awards and accolades over the years, there were so many things she did that no one, or at least very few, ever knew. To me, those are the ones that stand out the most. All of us have things we do for others from time to time, but the best of those are the ones done in secret — the ones that so many times the receiver will never know who that random act of kindness was from.
At her funeral, I learned one of those things she did which very few knew. She would arrive at church each week an hour early. She would pray over each row in the sanctuary for whoever may be sitting in that row on that particular Sunday. To me, that is a compelling testimony and a totally selfless act to do for others.
Thank you, Betty Bishop, for the things you couldn’t do.
Randy Butler is a lifelong resident of Highland County and a licensed real estate agent for Classic Real Estate in Hillsboro.