Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Godspeed, Mrs. Edwards

©People Magazine and People.com

With the death of Elizabeth Edwards at 61 comes the end of what had once been one of the most romanticized political couples in Washington. None of John Edwards' bad acts can undo what was a lifetime of service and commitment to her family and, until recently, especial dedication to John. She would have made a magnificent First Lady, but the question remains what kind of president would her spouse have made? The charming, charismatic figure of Southern gentility that John Edwards oozed was enhanced by the gracious and beautiful woman whose intelligence and maternal instincts were always spot on. It is a shame that the love of her life ended up being such a tremendous disappointment with his trysts and love child exposed to the world. Yet, since the scandal broke, she was a pillar of strength, never letting the public know the true depth of her hurt, answering reporters' questions, but still keeping just a measure of dignity to herself. She had endured the unthinkable before when she lost her teenage son Wade in a traffic accident. It was only after that tragedy that Elizabeth Anania, the professional name she used in her work as a successful North Carolina lawyer, was transformed into Elizabeth Edwards, a strong woman whose wagon was hitched to the political star that was her husband. Following Wade's death, Elizabeth also became a homemaker and mother to Cate, her surviving child, and, at 48 and 50 years of age, a mother to another daughter, Emma Claire, and another son, Jack, respectively. Her dedication to her children was never in question and her resilience to all she went through was, perhaps, one of her greatest strengths. There is an irony in that the man upon whom she depended and turned out to be such a disappointment will now be responsible for the upbringing and care of those youngest family members. In her absence I expect he will be resolute. I am certain he has more than his share of regrets, but there are no excuses for his past peccadillos ($400 haircuts) and more egregious acts of sexual betrayal. Yet, throughout her brave battle with cancer, Elizabeth credited him as her greatest source of strength during those moments of greatest struggle. After 33 years of marriage, the highs obviously outweighed the lows. Now that she is gone, John needs to keep in mind that how he carries on his life as a single parent will be the greatest legacy he can leave to his children. That is probably the thing that will make Elizabeth smile from her celestial resting place.

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