Joan and Betty: Sweet Loving Memories

by on January 4, 2022 · 3 comments

in From the Soul

By Ernie McCray

Joan Didion.

Betty White.

Both touched my life.

After hearing that Joan had died, I suddenly remembered how she helped me when my wife passed on, leaving me trapped in heart-rending sorrow and grief beyond belief, feeling as though I would die, too, with all the pain I was going through.

But as days and weeks and months passed the intensity of my suffering eased a tad – and I read Joan’s “The Year of Magical Thinking,” her account of losing her husband and daughter within a couple of years of each other.

Oh, did I ever need her story, her confirmation of what I was slowly sensing, a validation that, although I was feeling extremely down and out, I was on the right track to recovery, that it was day-to-day, but I would eventually be back on my feet.

In the swing of things. Again.

I will forever remember, with love, her contribution to my life when I was literally drowning in misery.

And Betty White will also have a special place in my heart for what she gave to me.  She entered my life in the 50’s, when I was a boy, and she was all over my TV, in, you name it, sitcoms, game shows and talk shows and commercials, just as smiley and bubbly as any human could possibly be, with a brand of charm that made you want to gently squeeze her in your arms.

However, at first, though, she was no more than just a TV star to me, no more

meaningful in the life of a Black boy growing up in a segregated Southwestern town, than Captain Kangaroo or Red Skelton or Jack Benny and Rochester or any other members of society’s celebrities.

But she became human to me when she stood up to the kind of Jim Crow mentality that surrounded me in my childhood years, saying to critics of her having booked a Black tap dancer on “The Betty White Show”: “Live with it.”

That’s my kind of grit.

Seeing this woman launch a brotha’s career, giving me, at age 16, my first close up look at a “White Ally” to the struggle of my people, made her quite a “Golden Girl” to me.

And she, like Joan Didion, will live on in my heart, for the rest of my days.

As sweet loving memories.

May they rest in peace as the gifts to humanity they happened to be.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

BARBARA LEWIS January 5, 2022 at 3:17 pm

Credit where credit is due….is what everyone should do.


Shirley Sprinkles January 6, 2022 at 7:33 am

To make a difference in even one life is laudable. These two made a difference in many.


Thomas Gayton January 6, 2022 at 2:51 pm



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