As we were preparing to say sayonara to 2021 and hello to 2022, the world lost a treasure. Betty White, just weeks shy of her 100th birthday, passed away and we lost someone truly remarkable and inspirational.
Throughout her long life, Betty White had the unique ability to captivate fans and was adored by the world. A no-nonsense, kind of gal that told you how it was, but still left you feeling appreciated and would join you for a drink afterwards (she preferred vodka on the rocks with a splash of grapefruit).
I like to think if I ever had the opportunity to meet her, we’d be fast friends. In addition to enjoying a cocktail (minus the grapefruit), I feel a special kinship with her.
I have spent a lot of time over the past few days researching this special lady. No surprise, there are lots of articles about her, more after the news of her passing hit the mainstream media. I also picked up the latest issue of “People” that has this lovely woman on the cover and in big letters: “Betty White Turns 100! Funny Never Gets Old”. They had no idea that by the time this issue hit the stands that she would be gone.
In all of the reading I have done, one theme keeps shining through. She was a remarkable woman who had an eternal optimism that just wouldn’t dim, no matter what life threw at her. For those of you that know me well, and if you’ve been following my column for a while, you know that we share this trait.
“I’m a big cockeyed optimist. I try to accentuate the positive as opposed to the negative.” ~ Betty White
Betty White first emerged in the early 1940’s, acting in various radio shows. From there she moved into television and sitcoms, movies, game shows, and commercials. Betty was a fierce animal rights activist and published author. Her memoir, “If You Ask Me: (And of Course you Won’t)” is one to add to your reading list! In addition to professional success, she found her soul mate (“Password” host Allen Ludden) and then lost him after only twenty years together. While she never had children of her own, she enjoyed being a stepmother to their three children.
My first real memory of her was on the show, “The Golden Girls”. While the show only ran for seven years (1985-1992), it was on television all the time when I was a kid. As a child many of the jokes were over my head, but I really loved the character “Rose”, which White portrayed. The innocence of her character, the wide-eyed eternal optimist was someone that I could identify with. In truth, the more I have read about this iconic woman, the character of “Rose” wasn’t that far off from the real woman herself, minus a few confusing stories about St. Olaf and with a little more sass.
"It's your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don't take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver.” ~ Betty White
I think we could all learn something by looking at life like Betty White. She found pure joy in everything that she did, always had a good time and was as down to earth as anyone. While those who travelled with her often said it was as if they were out with the Queen, she never let fame affect her. If anything, she used her influence to instill real change, inspire others and focus on what really matters in life.
"You can lie to anyone in the world and even get away with it, perhaps, but when you are alone and look into your own eyes in the mirror, you can’t sidestep the truth. Always be sure you can meet those eyes directly. Otherwise, it’s big trouble, my girl.” ~ Betty White
I think part of what made her so happy and optimistic is that she never took the whole thing too seriously. Yes, she was an extremely talented comedic actress who withstood the test of time and watched the world change and evolve before her eyes. Think of what she witnessed! War, social changes, activism, economic depression, politics, the rise of technology and the sweep and impact of social media.
“I didn’t know what Facebook was, and now that I do know what it is, I have to say, it sounds like a huge waste of time.” ~ Betty White
Betty knew that no matter what you had in this world, nothing could replace family, friends, truth, integrity and passion. I think we can all take a page out her book and find ways to be more like Betty. She is timeless and has been beloved for generations of fans. My mom, my daughter and I all loved Betty White and are big fans of “The Golden Girls”. There are very few people that can cross generations in this way.
In her memory, let’s all strive to be more like Betty, and honor this remarkable woman in a way that would keep her memory and her light bright for future generations. I’m not saying that you should eat a peanut butter and bologna sandwich (sorry, Betty, just can’t go there), but find a way to take her spirit with you and follow some of her simple, yet brilliant, logic.
"Friendship takes time and energy if it's going to work. You can luck into something great, but it doesn't last if you don't give it proper appreciation. Friendship can be so comfortable, but nurture it—don't take it for granted.” ~ Betty White
Thank you, Betty, for the mark you left in this world and the inspiration you have given to me and countless fans.
“Retirement is not in my vocabulary. They aren’t going to get rid of me that way.” ~ Betty White