The year was 2008. Tom had just moved to Florida, we were living in a duplex in Chiefland and the time was right to start looking for a house.
We both worked in Chiefland but Harriett Downs’ ad on the back of the Williston Pioneer spoke to us one week when the right house at the right price said, “Call.”
We did and agreed to meet the agent that Saturday.
We toured the house and discovered it really wasn’t the right one almost from the time we walked in the door. I think the agent sensed that because she quit answering questions, took a phone call and disappeared from our sight.
We did the obligatory tour telling each other, we still had plenty of time to look and when we did, this agent would not be the one we dealt with since she had all but abandoned us.
We finally found her, still on the phone, and waited until she hung up to tell her, “Thanks, but no, thanks.”
And then she stopped us. “There’s another house that just came on the market,” she said. “It’s not far from here and it’s not my listing, but you may like it.”
We took the challenge and long story short, we fell in love with it, prayed about it that night and met her in Harriett Down’s office around 8 p.m. Sunday to sign a contract.
I was devastated to hear Saturday that the agent, Bethaney Swanson, had lost her courageous battle against cancer.
Long after we closed on the house, every time I was out and about and Bethaney was near, she made a point to cross streets and throngs of people just to give me a hug and say hello. It didn’t matter where we were or who she was with, her bright eyes would twinkle with recognition and her smile illuminated a room.
When I heard Bethaney had cancer, I couldn’t believe it. I’d seen her several times and she still looked wonderful, still acted the same. My prayers, along with thousands of others, started going up immediately.
Last year, Bethaney had come to a city council meeting for a rezoning request and when she left, I followed her outside.
There I met one of her brothers and we talked about her initial diagnosis, her subsequent treatments and her positive outlook.
A few days later, I ran into her again at Winn Dixie, with another brother, and we chatted again.
And then I stopped seeing her so much around town. I knew her daughter, Hannah, was getting married and more than anything, Bethaney wanted to be there. I assumed she was reserving her strength for the big day.
Someone created a prayer page for her on Facebook and daily, I read the prayers as I said my own. We all wanted a miracle.
Bethaney’s miracle came Saturday as she passed gently into the arms of the Father. While I rejoice that she is no longer in pain or suffering, I am still saddened that our community lost one of the good ones–one of the best ones.
It reminded me today of that poem that people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
While so many know her better-and for longer, I know Bethaney Swanson was in my life for a reason–to sell my husband and me a house that four years later, we call home.
Her effervescent smile and unwaning air of optimism also challenges me to face life and it’s glitches unafraid. I am inspired to live a better life, be a better person and go the extra mile when someone is depending on it.
You see, that’s what Bethaney did that September day in 2008. She someone knew we were not impressed by the house she was showing us, and what we thought was rudeness was actually her calling her associates to see if someone had a house that was right for us.
By going the extra mile, she found a couple a beautiful house to call home and the start of a new beginning in Williston, the town she loved.
For those who come into your life for a reason, the poem reads, “What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled. Their work is done. The prayer you sent up has now been answered and now it is time to move on.”
Bethaney’s having her new beginning now. No one deserves it more.
Carolyn Ten Broeck is editor of the Williston Pioneer. Reach her at email@example.com.