July 11th, 2011
10:24 AM ET
After news broke last Friday that former First Lady Betty Ford had died, one of the first statements CNN received was from Stevie Nicks. The legendary Fleetwood Mac singer sent just one succinct sentence: "As far as I'm concerned, Betty Ford saved my life."
An hour or so later, she followed it up with a phone call - made as she was driving to a Vanessa Carlton concert from her home in Malibu. She was talking on a borrowed phone, since she doesn't own one herself.
Here are excerpts from that 10 minute phone conversation:
"As far as I'm concerned, Betty Ford DID save my life. I went to Betty Ford [The Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California] at the end of 1985 for cocaine addiction. In those days, she would actually come to speak at Betty Ford two or three times a month, so I got to hear her tell the whole story on just the pressure of being in politics, being married to a famous politician and getting addicted to whatever it was she was addicted to.
I thought, 'God, if Betty Ford can come through this, I can come through it, too.' Talk about being famous and being in rehab! 'Oh no, I can't do that, I'm too famous' - well, come on! She was the First Lady of the United States. So that really, really made my need to fix myself even stronger."
"A couple of years ago, I went to Betty Ford to speak and she was there. And I actually got to kind of get down on one knee and talk to her for about five minutes, and she was very, very fragile. And I just looked up at her and I said, 'You've got all these children here for you, and had it not been for you, so many of us would not have gotten well.'
Anyway, she was so lovely, and I don't think she really realized the impact she had on so many lives. Sometimes I don't think truly great people people realize how great they are - and I told her that night. I said, 'If it were not for you, Betty Ford, I would be dead. Absolutely. So all the songs that I have written since I was here, I dedicate to you. All the songs, and all the poems, and the shows and all the amazing things I got to do between 1985 and now is because of you.'"
"Betty Ford was not easy. I call it Betty Ford Boot Camp. And it was not an easy four weeks to go through, and nobody gets any special treatment there. It's hard, but it's kind of brilliant in its hardness. It's kind of what I image it's like to be in the army. There's four dorms, and there's 20 people in each dorm, and everybody has their chores, and everybody keeps that building clean and beautiful, and does dishes, makes coffee, vacuums the carpet - and she just insisted on it. The outside, the grass, the duck pond - that's her facility, and you'd better take care of it.
And it was tough. But two weeks in, you start to think, 'Oh my God, I'm getting better' - because when you first get to Betty Ford, that's basically what they tell you, is that you're dying. And that's not an easy thing to hear."
"I think her family will carry it on, because it's their legacy now. And if I were her children, I would be so proud of her."
"So God bless her, and I hope she's up there with Gerald Ford, looking down on all of us. Her facility is good, and it's working, and it was time for her to go. She was fragile."
"I'll miss her. I didn't know her, but I did get to spend a few minutes with her, and I did get to watch her speak two or three times, so I'm glad that I was able to do that."
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