Saturday, July 9, 2011

Betty Ford, my new hero


I was just crying to Nate about how alone and weird I sometimes feel. (Even though I realize I was not alone while crying, which helped. He is a loving, gentle presence.) I have been processing the New York Times thing all weekend, feeling raw and exposed and yet not regretting it.

Then I came across this: "Betty Ford said things that first ladies just don't say, even today. And 1970s America loved her for it."

>>According to Mrs. Ford, her young adult children probably had smoked marijuana — and if she were their age, she'd try it, too. She told "60 Minutes" she wouldn't be surprised to learn that her youngest, 18-year-old Susan, was in a sexual relationship (an embarrassed Susan issued a denial).

She mused that living together before marriage might be wise, thought women should be drafted into the military if men were, and spoke up unapologetically for abortion rights, taking a position contrary to the president's. "Having babies is a blessing, not a duty," Mrs. Ford said.

...At one point, feeling overwhelmed and underappreciated, she suffered an emotional breakdown that led to weekly visits with a psychiatrist. "He said I had to start thinking I was valuable, not just as a wife and mother, but as myself."

Former President George H.W. Bush said in a statement on Friday: "No one confronted life's struggles with more fortitude or honesty, and as a result, we all learned from the challenges she faced."

Candor worked for Betty Ford, again and again. She would build an enduring legacy by opening up the toughest times of her life as public example."<<

She was born on my daughter Eden's birthday. Her full maiden name was Elizabeth Bloomer. She loved to dance and was "a free spirit." She was married once before she met & married Gerald Ford (who she started dating before her divorce was final). And she had four kids! She died the day my own story was going to press. I hope to have a good conversation with her someday.