So it’s been quite a week for Grand Rapids, what with a multiple murder-suicide and the passing of First Lady Betty Ford just a day apart. The locals could be forgiven for taking a few days off to recover their senses.
This is an appropriate time to remember the everyday greatness of Betty Ford, who was hailed even in her prime for being plainspoken and reluctant to indulge GOP pieties. She said on national TV that she wouldn’t be surprised if her daughter had premarital sex; she openly called for the ERA; she supported legalized abortion at a time when that was a much more controversial position than it later became. And she became a public face for addiction and recovery, for the normalization of mental illness, for the right of ordinary people to have matter-of-fact plastic surgery — the list goes on and on and on. Per the New York Times, she hated Pat Nixon’s pretentious formal furniture, and she stuck a cigarette between the fingers of a Greek goddess in the Yellow Oval Room. She was seeing a psychiatrist in 1962, for heaven’s sake.
She was a vivacious child — her mother liked to say that Betty “popped out of a bottle of champagne.”
God love the woman.
And it’s also an appropriate time to rewatch (or to watch, if you haven’t) the great Grand Rapids community lipdub of “American Pie,” which I’ll provide here for your convenience: