The trip to Grand Rapids, Mich., felt like an overdue trip home. A long time ago, I worked at the NBC affiliate here and spent many a day at the Gerald R. Ford Museum when the President was in town for a birthday or other celebration.
The mood is decidedly different today. The flag, limp at half staff, seems to know.
It is gray and cold and a steady drizzle of mourners are pulling hands from mittens to add their names to a book that will soon fill. The museum is shuttered as if bowing to its namesake.
President Ford wasn't born here and he didn't retire here but by almost any definition, Grand Rapids was his home. He played football on fields not far from the museum and later represented the people of Western Michigan in Congress for more than two decades. He's a native son in these parts whose passing is a fresh wound.