Betsy Rothstein passed away Sunday among family following a long battle with cancer.
Betsy was the most honest person I’ve ever met. She hated lying the way some people hate snakes. She recoiled in horror from lies. She found them repulsive, and the people who told them, contemptible. It sounds funny to say it now, but Betsy went into journalism because she wanted to tell the truth.
Journalism changed over the past 30 years, but Betsy didn’t. She had the perfect temperament for a gossip columnist. There was nothing prurient about her interest in other people’s personal lives. She didn’t care what kind of underwear you wore, or what you did after midnight. Nothing shocked her. She believed in privacy. She almost never talked about her own life. Some of her friends had no idea where she’d grown up or how many siblings she had. Betsy wrote a gossip column because she loved exposing lies. She was a truffle dog for duplicity.
A few weeks ago, I went to visit her. She was at her brother Joel’s house, where she’d been living since the hospital sent her home. We both knew it was the last time we’d see each other in this life. We sat in the living room all morning, holding hands, saying prayers, often in silence. Betsy was tired. Her beloved spaniel Whiskey slept in her lap. Just before I left, she lifted her head and looked at me directly. Her eyes were clear. I asked her what she’d been thinking. “Nothing is definite,” she said. You think you know what’s going to happen in life. But you don’t. It’s not up to you.
I wrote that down when I got to my car. I won’t forget it. It’s the most honest thing she ever said.
We will miss her.