AND STILL DOES –
Sept. 13, 2018 – Lisa McCubbin’s biography, “Betty Ford: First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer,” is also celebratory. But it begins on a painful note: the Ford family’s confrontation with “Mother” over her dependence on painkillers and alcohol, and her need for treatment. Though the shadow of those addictions hovers over this book, what we read here is mostly a much lighter tale of a happy family thrust unexpectedly into the glare of the presidency. Only once do we get a sense of how scary Ford’s episodes could be. When she announced that she was leaving home with terrified, 8-year-old Susan in tow, “her hair was disheveled, like she’d been trying to pull it out, and her eyes — swollen and red from crying — were wild,” McCubbin writes. Congressman Ford, perpetually preoccupied by politics, was summoned to calm his wife down. The children (McCubbin interviewed all four for this book) were wary of their mother, worried she might lose it in front of their friends. On the whole, we don’t see a person losing it in these pages. Here we meet a brave, beautiful and bright woman, who at age 20 catapulted “straight from the sticks” of Grand Rapids, Mich., to the stage at Carnegie Hall, where she danced as part of Martha Graham’s company.