If the whole world feels glittered with gold and white today, you’re not imagining things.
It’s Betty White Day.
And if you’re here, reading these words, I’m certain of this: you’ve been Bettied.
I don’t mean that you’ve been besotted with the Golden Girls star and golden-hearted giver, although I suspect it’s likely.
After all, Betty White was a whirling world of mercy, not unlike yourself. The Tabby’s Place spirit sang through her sparkling eyes, her lifetime of laughter, her courageous outrageousness, and her grace.
Most of all, her grace.
Grace: that thing that glitters, all gold-and-white like a grandmother’s hair, like a glamour-cat’s fur coat, like hope high-tailing it across the snow.
Grace: that place that we intuitively know as “home,” that light in the window, that embrace after the ice storm — or better yet, right in the vise of the ice storm, just when the power goes out and the chill chomps your bones and you feel so very, very small.
Grace: that rescue mission for the very, very small.
Grace: that celebration that we are, in fact, all very, very small…which positions us perfectly to be cupped in mercy’s hand.
There are many crackling comedians, many shining grandmothers, and many cultural treasures. Betty White was fun, and brilliant, and hilarious, but that’s not why millions of people donated millions and millions and millions of dollars to save animals on her 100th birthday last year.
Betty White glittered, but we loved her because she got down in the gutter with the shivering and the small.
Betty White was larger-than-life, but we loved her because she loved the little and the lonely.
Betty White was the best because she loved lonely creatures at their worst.
And if you’re reading these words, even if you’ve never heard of Betty White, you know her spirit. Because you’ve been Bettied, too.
Maybe it was your bus-driver Dad, who came home exhausted and fed all the strays in the neighborhood before he’d touch his own dinner.
Maybe it was your best friend, the softy-cynic who swore she preferred cats to people, only to make herself the safest place on earth for both.
Maybe it was that teacher who saw you, who proclaimed you “a real writer” at fourteen, finding gold in the mine where you hid.
Maybe it was your first cat, your first glimpse of unconditional love, your first sense that this late-winter world will be saved by grace.
We are blanketed with Bettys at Tabby’s Place. This community of love is jamming with glitter-folk, jumping jelly beans of generosity.
Miriel will teach you that “miracles” and “time” overlap like the red and gold in her coat, and when you stop to snuggle, life begins.
Glenn will teach you that grief and groaning (even the incessant groaning of a broken larynx) can be smelted into gold by gentleness.
Nina will teach you that the world spins fast, but you can catch it by the string if you are brave enough to need sweetness.
Lynnette will teach you that age is no tragedy when you’re greeted with the laugh of recognition: “oh there you are, my love!”
Denali will teach you that love is hardier than heartbreak, sturdier than surliness, and ready to be renewed every meek new morning.
Our volunteers will teach you that sleep and sanity are a small price to pay for the first purr of a petrified foster kitten.
Our staff will teach you that one cat is equal in weight to the entire world, and equally worthy of every last kindness. (There is never a “last kindness.” That last drop always reveals itself to be the sea.)
Our donors will teach you that devotion has nothing to do with “deserving,” and serving the scared has everything to do with being fully alive.
Our whole community of love will teach you that “imperfect” cats are iridescent cats, and “Special Needs” is just another term for “Limitlessly Lovable,” and blessed are the merciful, for they will live in mercy.
More precisely, they will live, while others sleep.
They will glitter, where others grind their teeth.
They will be fully, beautifully, Bettily alive.
Like you. Because, somewhere along the way, you were led to love and led by love and led into a love that has made you large in your littleness.
Somewhere between the first time your eyes opened, and the moment your eyes bounce across these words, you were initiated into grace.
You were Bettied.
And as you read these words, I’ll bet your personal “Bettys” are all glittering through your brain.
So here’s the challenge.
Don’t just bask in the Bettys. Be a Betty. Bless the beacons on your shoreline with a golden sandcastle, right here in the January slush.
Donate. Do it for the little ones, the brittle ones, the glittering ones who you have been given the eyes to see.
Give in honor of your best Bettys.
Build a more Bettiful world with a brick — specifically, a Memorial Brick etched with your adored one’s name. (We usually ask a $500 donation for these permanent tributes, but for Betty White Week, they’re just $250. Be assured: this amount constitutes a life-saving donation at little Tabby’s Place.)
Betty the cats who have nowhere else to turn.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be golden with grace.
May we make you proud, Betty White. Happy 101st birthday!