Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Discussing Two Deaths: Betty Ford and Shannon Stone

with 4 comments

Tonight, I mourn.

In baseball, a 39 year old fan, Shannon Stone, passed away at a Texas Rangers game after he fell over a railing trying to grab a ball flipped to him by Rangers OF Josh Hamilton in order to give to his six year old son, Cooper Stone.  Conor Jackson of the A’s had just hit a foul ball, and Hamilton had flipped the ball into the crowd.  However, the toss was a bit short, and Stone fell, head first, twenty feet to the ground. 

I have no words for this, but the closest I can come to my feelings have already been expressed by sports columnist Greg Couch here:

I don’t even know what to say. I can’t stomach this. It makes me want to call my dad, hug my son. This is the prototypical father-son moment in this country, and it ended with Stone falling over the railing.

But what was even worse was what happened next:

They put (Stone) on a stretcher and, according to A’s pitcher Brad Ziegler who saw it all, Stone was telling the paramedics “Please, someone please get my son. Please check on my son. He’s up there all by himself.”

Ziegler, on ESPN’s Mike & Mike show in the morning, said, “One of the paramedics was right there, said, ‘Sir, we’ll get your son. Your son’s going to be OK. Don’t worry about your son.’ ”

A few minutes later in the ambulance, Stone died.

This reminds me ever so much of my husband Michael’s last few conscious minutes (after the first heart attack, he fell into a coma before we ever got to the hospital, and he died ten hours later).  Michael’s words were for me — the person he cared about the most in the world.  While Stone’s words were for his six-year-old son — one of the people he cared the most about.  In the world.

Stone was only 39.  He was a firefighter for 18 years, one of mankind’s unsung heroes.  He is survived by his thirty-six year old wife Jenny, his mother, Suzann, and of course his young son.  He will be greatly missed. 

Compared to that, the passing of former First Lady Betty Ford at age 93 was both more somber and more understandable.  Ford’s life was remarkable; she crusaded for the Equal Rights Amendment (and yes, she was a Republican).  She was a feminist who believed that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare (in Hillary R. Clinton’s famous words).  Ford was relentlessly honest about herself, from her breast cancer to her issues with substance abuse, and she helped to found the Betty Ford Center (which later spread into more than one, helping numerous people overcome substance abuse addiction).  And she was a very good wife who loved her husband, very much, something I empathize with a great deal.

Betty Ford was 93.  She lived a life filled with great, and public, meaning.   Many are left behind to honor her memory in and out of her family, and she, too, will be greatly missed.

Written by Barb Caffrey

July 8, 2011 at 11:03 pm

4 Responses

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  1. I heard about Mr. Stone’s death on Channel 4 News. I am very sorry. My condolences to the family.

    Betty Ford, an awesome woman, who will be looked up to for many generations to come.

    Our country is a little poorer for these two losses.


    July 9, 2011 at 1:28 am

    • Thanks, Lika. I agree 100%. Betty Ford’s life certainly was a model for other strong Presidential spouses, like Hillary R. Clinton and even Michelle Obama to a degree . . . I think it’s important to be yourself as a Presidential spouse, and not to forget the strong, independent person you are on the inside even when your husband is the most powerful man in the world. (So far, at least, all Presidential spouses have been women. Let us hope that will change some day, soon.)

      Barb Caffrey

      July 9, 2011 at 8:14 am

  2. Betty Ford was a trailblazer. Her openess and candor with her bout with breast cancer just weeks after her husband took office was responsible for bringing awareness to a disease that was never talked about, and enabling other women to feel able to talk about it openly and get the medical attention they needed. It has been written that after she went public, there was an increase in the number of mamograms. Her later struggles with alcohol and drug dependancy made it aware that no matter what your station in life and who you were, it could happen to anyone. She truly left the world a better place with her willingness to be open to discuss her struggles in the national spotlight. God rest your soul, Mrs. Ford. You will be missed.

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    July 9, 2011 at 6:30 am

    • I agree with you 100%.

      Betty Ford was the first “First Lady” I knew; I was eight when Gerald Ford became President, and my Grandma was a big admirer of Ford’s (even though Grandma was a Democrat and voted straight Democrat all her life) due to Betty Ford’s candor and grace. That Ford was able to transcend her difficulties to the point of being able to help other people with the same problems by opening up a medical treatment center (that later grew to be several) is, all by itself, remarkable. Then you add in her crusade for the Equal Rights Amendment and being unabashedly pro-choice along with her stalwart refusal to stand in the shadows (she was always going to be her own person, Betty Ford, which was a model for later strong Presidential spouses like Hillary R. Clinton) and you make one outstanding human being.

      I hope her afterlife with her beloved husband Gerald R. Ford will be joyous, as surely any Deity figure worth His/Her/Its/Their salt would wish.

      Barb Caffrey

      July 9, 2011 at 9:48 am

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