Saturday, November 26, 2011

How many people will turn out for Maggie Daley’s Sunday service?

I offer my condolences to the Daley family. And I don’t mean just the former mayor himself.

For while we all knew that Maggie Daley’s health was in decline and newsrooms everywhere were aware that it was time to get their pre-written obituaries of Chicago’s former first lady prepared for publication, it still was a blow for her to die on Thursday.

WHICH FOR THE rest of us was the day that we all stuffed our faces with too much heavy food and sat on our duffs watching too much out-of-town football for anyone’s benefit.

It was Thanksgiving. A holiday we’re supposed to celebrate.

Yet for the Daleys, Thanksgiving will now forevermore be the day they lost their wife/mother/aunt/etc.

That applies even though Thanksgiving does not fall on the same date each year.

SO NEXT YEAR’S Thanksgiving will not literally be the one-year marking point of the date of her death. But I’m sure the holiday itself will forevermore carry a bit of a taint that will make it just that much harder for the family to think of celebration.

I know in my case, it felt just a bit like that – even though I didn’t have anyone die on a past Thanksgiving.

In my case, my mother died last year about a week-and-a-half prior to Thanksgiving. I remember this time last year celebration was about the last thing I cared about. Actually, I don’t really remember much about one year ago – it is just a haze.

This year on Thanksgiving, my mother maintained a place in the back of my mind. In large part, it is because I have been told that among her final thoughts before she suddenly lost consciousness and died within an hour was to think aloud to herself about all the last-minute preparations she would have to do in coming days to prepare herself for Thanksgiving.

FOR SHE HAD it in her mind that my brother and I would spend that holiday with her and she wanted to be prepared for it.

Those preparations, of course, never came to be.

This was, and likely will always be, the one holiday that carries a bit of a taint for me in that I will notice my mother’s absence (periodically, I find myself blurting out to no one in particular, “I miss you, Mom”) moreso than usual.

Which is what I expect will be the same reaction that the Daley family will also experience – although I will be the first to admit that I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of what the Daleys actually did on Thursday or what they are feeling right now.

THIS IS MY attempt at an intelligent guess. Although I don’t think it is much of a stretch of logic to come to this conclusion.

One thing I will state right now is that I was pleased to learn of a public service to be held Sunday at the Chicago Cultural Center for those who feel compelled to turn out in public to pay their respects.

It will be separate from any funeral services held for Maggie Daley, which actually is something I think is admirable. A part of me always thinks it is gaudy for people who weren’t personally connected to the deceased to be showing up for the funeral and turning it into a virtual circus production.

This way lets the family pay their respects in some degree of privacy. And a big overblown funeral service is probably the last thing that the subdued first lady (until May, that is) would have wanted for herself.

I’M CURIOUS TO see just how many people turn out to show their respects for the Daley legacy (even though the Washington Post thinks the “big” story in Chicago on Friday is the Obama presidential re-election campaign locating here). It has me wondering if it will come close to the thousands who felt compelled to be a part of the atmosphere when former-Mayor Harold Washington died back in 1987.

And, oddly enough, he died on the day BEFORE Thanksgiving that year – which meant those holiday ad-stuffed newspapers we bought on Thanksgiving that year had word of Harold’s demise all over their front pages. Not exactly the most festive of events.

Maybe it’s just that the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is not a good time in general for people with Chicago political ties.


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