As Mayor Rahm Emanuel expressed, “While Mayor Daley served as the head of this city, Maggie was its heart.”
I didn’t personally know Maggie Daley, but her passing is personal for me, because of the memories that return this Thanksgiving holiday, of my own mother. Both she and Maggie were of the generation where the greatest role a woman could have in life was that of a wife and mother. When it came to their families, both were selfless, supportive, loving and giving. And for Maggie, she carried that selflessness and giving nature over to the people, and especially, the children of Chicago.
Like her husband, Maggie loved the people and City. Her grace, kindness, and smile were genuine. Through her years as Chicago’s First Lady, she spent countless hours working behind the scenes. When Maggie supported a charity or cause, you knew that mountains would be moved.
Today, young women starting their careers and/or families look for role models to emulate. Some of the more famous immediately come to mind, such as Oprah, Hilary. But for me, Maggie Daley personified the goodness that so many of us strive for, and somehow seemingly fall short. She was gracious to both friend and foe of her husband. Despite her cancer in the last years of her life, Maggie always had a smile on her face, warmth in her voice. She faced her titanic struggle with the values she treasured. Her faith, love for her family, her sense of honor and duty to give back, led this unassuming woman to become a truly remarkable woman and human being.
My sympathies go out to the Daley family, and especially the former mayor, Richard M. Daley. He has lost his anchor, his rock, his best friend. No matter how prepared one may think he/she is for the passing of a loved one, there is still a deep-rooted numbness that occurs, a disbelief. The mayor has been left with a solid, wonderful, close-knit family to lean on now, thanks to Maggie.
My mother always used a specific phrase when she wanted me to take notice of another woman she deemed special, “she’s a lady.” Yes, Maggie, she was speaking about you. Rest in peace.