Quotations from Betty Ford's 1978 memoir, "The Times of My Life."
(On hearing her husband take the oath of office in August 1974)
"The words cut through me, pinned me to the floor. I felt as though I were taking the oath with him, promising to dedicate my own life to the service of my country.
"I was the wife of the President of the United States."
"What an astonishing place for Elizabeth Ann Bloomer to have come to."
(On meeting Ford)
Fall 1947: "Once I'd said marriage was the last thing on my mind, and he'd made it clear it was no part of his program either, we could relax, have a good time, go to all the football games. He wanted a companion, and I filled the bill. As for me, I liked handsome blond men, I found him physically attractive; I enjoyed his company and his friends."
November 1948: "When he first told me he was going to run for Congress, I didn't know what running for Congress meant. I was very unprepared to be a political wife, but I didn't worry because I really didn't think he was going to win. At that time, only old men went to Congress."
(On children and motherhood)
"I was always there at three-thirty when the older ones came home from school and in the days when we still had infants, I was a pretty average mother. If I had a quiet hour, I dived into a historical novel. ... I was a den mother. I was a Sunday-school teacher. I was an interior decorator and a peacemaker and a zoo keeper. We raised every kind of an animal in the world."
(On Ford's Vice Presidency)
Dec. 6, 1973: "Before he got this new job, I'd been planning to work at a hospital three days a week, because I needed to feel I was doing something for someone else. ... Suddenly I had more projects than I could handle."
(On Ford becoming president)
"I had such belief in my husband. I never doubted he could do it. ... But I wasn't sure what kind of First Lady I would be. There was a great deal of whooping and hollering right at the beginning because I'd said Jerry and I were not going to have separate bedrooms at the White House, and that we were going to take our own bed with us. ... Even now, after all those years of married life, I like the idea of sleeping with my husband next to me."
"I figured, OK, I'll move to the White House, do the best I can and if they don't like it, they can kick me out, but they can't make me somebody I'm not."
"I think it wasn't so much that the White House altered me in any essential way as that I found the resources with which to respond to a series of challenges. You never know what you can do until you have to do it. In the beginning, it was like going to a party you're terrified of, and finding out to your amazement that you're having a good time."
(On getting breast cancer)
"...I never felt hopelessly mutilated. After all, Jerry and I had been married a good many years and our love had proved itself. I had no reason to doubt my husband. If he'd lost a leg, I wouldn't have deserted him, and I knew he wouldn't desert me because I was unfortunate enough to have had a mastectomy. Neither of us can walk away from the other."
"Lying in the hospital, thinking of all those women going for cancer checkups because of me, I'd come to recognize more clearly the power of the woman in the White House. Not my power, but the power of the position, a power which could be used to help."
(On equal rights)
"A housewife deserves to be honored as much as a woman who earns her living in the marketplace. I consider bringing up children a responsible job. In fact, being a good housewife seems to me a much tougher job than going to the office and getting paid for it. What man could afford to pay for all the things a wife does, when she's a cook, a mistress, a chauffeur, a nurse, a baby-sitter? But because of this, I feel women ought to have equal rights, equal Social Security, equal opportunities for education, an equal chance to establish credit."
(On campaigning in 1976)
"I hadn't wanted Jerry to be president, but I had long since accepted his decision to run. You plan your life one way, it goes another. When the time came, I felt he would be the best man for the job, and I was willing to take on four more years in the White House."
"I had never expected to go out and campaign for my husband for president of the United States... At first I was petrified to get up and speak, particularly without a prepared text. In the beginning, I used to feel sick. After a while, I became so involved I stopped thinking about my stomach and carried on like the rest of the troops."
(On her 1978 hospital stay for substance abuse)
"For 14 years, I'd been on medication for the pinched nerve, the arthritis, the muscle spasms in my neck, and I'd lost my tolerance for pills. If I had a single drink, the alcohol, on top of the pills, would make me groggy."
"I entered Long Beach to rid myself of dependence on drugs. Even now, I think staying off medication will be harder for me than staying off liquor because I have pain which comes often. For the present, I seem to be dealing with it. It's mind over matter a lot."