the passing of President Ford

It hit me this morning as I was watching coverage of the death of Pres. Gerald Ford and plans for his well-deserved state funeral….his wife Betty, who I think he would agree was his finest asset, reminds me of my dear departed Mother-in law. Don’t know why it never struck me before…Shirley even looked like Betty Ford, and like her, she wasn’t what you would call an outspoken woman. They were both I think somewhat quiet women who didn’t say a lot but when they spoke you listened, because it meant something needed to be said. Betty Ford made the difference to millions of women when she spoke publicly of having breast cancer, at a time most people would have trouble remembering…when women didn’t really speak of it…it had a kind of embarassing stigma.
And she also changed how the world looks at alcohol and drug abuse. There was a time when only drunks and bums drank too much. Not really of course, there were and are, plenty of quiet desperate drinkers….nice women with families and husbands, who had a “little problem”. When she began the Betty Ford Clinic….it became respectable, desirable even, to seek help.
My Mother-in -law never did those things of course…she didn’t have a platform and she didn’t have breast cancer, or a drinking problem. She was one of the quiet, steady women who shepherded their kids through all sorts of difficulties and good times…though it must be said, she never gave advice unless she was asked, and even then it was given gently. Not even to her daughter-in-law. She died almost two years ago from lung cancer…she had been a smoker since she was a teenage girl but had quit some 15 years ago. Shirley died as she lived….quietly and with dignity…not complaining about her lot. But it was too soon for her to go, and not the way any of us would have chosen for her.
I wonder if she ever thought she looked like Betty Ford? Neat, attractive, always put together and hair done….Maybe. I think she would like the comparison.


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