Last week’s passing of Maggie Daley, Chicago’s former First Lady, may not have been a surprise to many people. She had fought a ten-year battle with cancer and in the past couple of years, things seemed more grim. In fact, when former Mayor Richard M. Daley announced that he would not run for office again in this last election, most assumed that Mrs. Daley’s health was the reason (even though he denied it).
The fact that her death was in some ways expected did not make it any less sad. As I watched the coverage of the wake (held at the Chicago Cultural Center, a building Mrs. Daley fought to get restored) and the funeral procession to Old St. Pat’s, I–like so many other Chicagoans–felt a sense of gratitude for Mrs. Daley and the work she did behind-the-scenes for the citizens of our town. She was responsible for the creation of Gallery 37. She was the Chairperson of the “After School Matters” program, which provides activities for teens, keeping them off the streets during the hours of 4:00-7:00, the “most dangerous” time because parents were not yet home from work. She was an advocate of the arts and, after her diagnosis, worked to bring awareness of breast cancer to the masses through events and fundraising.
Above of all of those things, though, she was a mother. I never met Mrs. Daley but I’m guessing that her four children were her proudest accomplishments in life, and her grandchildren as well. Her outside-the-family accomplishments did wonders for a city, but her private achievements are the ones that will have high standing in the hearts of those she left behind, and I bet–like most of us–she wouldn’t want it any other way. The grieving faces of her family said what words couldn’t, but then words–beautiful words, especially for those of us who try to “do it all”–did come.
At her funeral, her son Patrick stated, “for such an accomplished woman with so many professional and personal commitments, she always had the time to simply be our mother.”
Thank you, Mrs. Daley, for leading by example.