I ache mightily in this weather. I was thinking about that as Bacchus and I began our morning stroll. Then my thoughts turned to Betty Ford and the pain she is bearing. A different kind, to be sure, and then again maybe not.
I thought about this frail 88 year old woman who has so captured the hearts of a nation these past few days. I thought about the strength she showed and the dignity under the closest of public scrutiny. I wondered what physical aches and pains she might have been enduring along with the emotional. And I was awed.
I thought, too, that Nancy Reagan, also appearing frail, showed the same strength throughout the days of her husband's funeral. The Presidential wives. The First Ladies. What a wonderfully strong group of ladies all.
As I watched the Ford proceedings, I studied the faces of the former Presidents. I would guess, due to health and/or age, they were all wondering how soon would be their own time. And I looked at the wives, perhaps wondering the same about their husbands, and saw strength in all of them.
Years ago there was a saying that behind every successful man stood a strong woman. That should be amended. Especially this day and age. It should state beside every successful man stands a strong woman!
Rosalind Carter, Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush. Each and every one of them pillars of strength, influential and the intellectual equals of their husbands.
And to the men who married them. Hooray! They were not afraid of nor intimidated by a woman of strength and conviction. They sought an equal partner in every sense of the word and that is what they got.
Love sometimes blinds you but it also binds you. As years pass the burning passion may turn to embers but the glow is steady, warm and comforting. I venture a guess that these men would not have achieved such lofty heights without these women they loved and who loved them in return.
Times are changing and more and more roles are reversed. Nancy Pelosi was sworn in today as the first woman to hold the office of Speaker of the House. I know nothing of her husband other than that he would be a most generous, secure and supportive man. Senator Hillary Clinton, about to embark on her own Presidential bid has a husband with a huge ego but has proven to be an unwavering supporter of his wife's ambitions.
I watch the interaction between candidates and their wives. It is very revealing. When Senator Obama calls to enthrall his wife about some proposed legislation he is authoring and she tells him to stop by Wal-Mart on the way home and pick up ant traps because they have a problem one can't help but think she has her priorities right - and so does he.
To all women who have been thrust into the public spotlight by virtue of their husband's ambitions or their own , celebrate the equality of partnership. Combined, you men and women who understand and value mutual respect, are the role models without which this country would be far less than it is.