I love that Betty turned tragedy into triumph.
By going public with her battles, she was able to help others. She made it okay to say the words BREAST CANCER and erased a silly taboo. She turned a dirty little secret into a DISEASE thereby allowing people to admit, get help and conquer alcoholism.
But my favorite thing about Betty is this ...
When we lived in the Palm Springs area, I had a friend whose husband was on the Ford's secret service detail. Like many people, the Fords liked to winter in Palm Desert and spend summers in cooler climates. Their favorite was Vail, CO. They would go back and forth according to the weather. When it got too hot in the desert and nice in Vail, they would go to Vail. When it got cold in Vail and nice in the desert, they would go to the desert.
This was what was best for them. Let's face it: that would be ideal and they had earned that luxury. The only problem was that the secret service detail had wives and children who went to public school. So if the Fords decided to leave in April (which many snowbirds do) then the families would have to choose between being separated for as much as two months OR to take the kids out of school. This placed a hardship on the secret service detail. Of course, it was not allowed for the men to request the Fords change their plans to accommodate them. The reverse would happen in September when school started. Snowbirds tended to return to the desert in Oct/Nov and sometimes as late as Dec. Once again the families were put in difficult situations trying to choose between keeping their family together, kids missing or changing school, or simply resigning from the detail and moving on to other duties.
The Fords noticed this dilemma and the toil it took on their beloved detail. Upon inquiry, they discovered the problem could be solved if THEY changed their schedule. The Fords opted to adjust their schedule to accommodate the families. They stayed in the desert according to the school schedule, not the temperature. They sacrificed their own comfort in order to do what was best for the families of their detail.
That is why I loved Betty Ford. Rest in Peace Betty with your Gerald forever.