Hope Hutchins Benton, died unexpectedly on March 3, 2023 at the age of 83, just two days after her best birthday ever. She was in the Bahamas, on a boat, with her family and friends. She had taken a joy ride on a zodiac around Conception Island in the Exumas, which has to be the most beautiful place on this planet.
Draped in birthday-girl banners and wearing a princess crown, she was toasted from a bottle of French champagne that had been monogrammed “Gigi” before being placed at the head of the dinner table that had been dicky-dooed for the occasion. Everyone wore miniature party hats and blew party blowers that exhaled confetti all over the feast. The family talked about their favorite times in life and Hope said, without a pause, “When I met Jay.”
Of course Hope didn’t actually eat dinner. She went straight to the birthday cake dessert before making her own toast to a roomful of passengers – proclaiming that she would have this kind of birthday again next year and every year after …
Hope had no thoughts of her own death. She only thought of living and loving and staying forever young. It doesn’t matter where she went to school because she only went where her parents told her to go. And it never mattered where she was so much as who she was and whom she met.
The beauty of life, to her, was people, not places. She never met a stranger. And everyone she met was “just like me!” But, as we all know, there was no one JUST like her. She was like some rare colorful bird you see once in the jungle and know instantly that you will never forget. She entered a room and your eyes widened in wonder as you waited with bated breath (she loved that phrase) to see what she would do or what she would say. And you were probably surprised to discover that she had no pretention and most of what came out of her mouth was genuinely curious questions about YOU and your life. She loved you instantly and engaged you immediately, tirelessly wanting to know everything about you and your entire family.
And then she would remember it all and probably send you a note on her handmade stationery, telling you how much she likes you. And since then, you have never forgotten her. Nor will you ever. She was truly one of a kind. Overflowing with kindness and love and generosity. She never had ANY idea how much money she had, and although she feared that she didn’t have enough, she gave whatever she thought she had to others. She was always giving money away to friends, family and local organizations, while shopping at the Dollar Store in order to save what she might have left.
She loved her family deeply, and that includes everyone who worked for her, because they were equally her family, too. She never left you without saying “I love you” and she always hoped you would say it back. Because all she ever really really wanted in life was to be loved. And to not ever ever be alone. So, please, keep her with you and love her and take what you most loved about her and share it with someone else. Because Hope changes everything. And everyone.
A celebration of Hope’s life will be held at a later date.