As if there weren’t already enough reasons to strongly dislike 2021, we learned Betty White died on its final day at age 99.
America’s sweetheart, television’s true “golden girl,” Betty White died overnight Friday.
I don’t know anyone who didn’t hold Betty White in some state of reverence. Her acting career spanned eight decades. She brought to life memorable characters like Sue Ann Nivens on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and Rose Nylund on “The Golden Girls.”
White died late Thursday night or early Friday morning at age 99. She was just 17 days shy of her 100th birthday, a milestone many of us hoped she’d reach. Maybe that’s because she always seemed so genuine, so real. Even though she played characters with a wild streak, we always had the feeling that dear Betty White was the sweetest person you’d ever hope to have as family.
An announcer friend of mine related a story of sending White a letter in 1981, the year her beloved Allen Ludden died of cancer. It turns out the announcer’s father had died that same year. She surprised him by sending a handwritten letter and the two corresponded back and forth for a while with her providing words of encouragement to him.
Most of us were never fortunate enough to have even seen her in person. Yet somehow, that characterization just seems to fit.
The big secret about death
One of my favorite Betty White stories involved the reason she never feared death. Back in 2012, White, then 89, spoke with Katie Couric about her long career.
At one point in the interview, Couric asked White if she were afraid of death.
“No, not at all. Not at all,” White answered. She explained that her mother had what she called the most wonderful outlook on death.
“She would always say, ‘Nobody knows [what happens when you die]. People think they do. You can believe whatever you want to believe what happens at that last moment, but nobody ever knows until it happens.’ But, she said, it’s a secret. So, all growing up, whenever we’d lose somebody, she’d always say, ‘Now, they know the secret.'”
Now, Betty White knows the secret, too.
Rest in Peace, Betty.