I've thought long and hard about whether to post this old letter. While as the author I own its contents, the recipient and the subject are sadly no longer with us. But in these days of division and the politics of destruction, it warms my heart to remember them both and what they meant to me, to Washington, and the National Archives. I also think that they would approve. With love to Cokie Roberts and her mom, Congresswoman Lindy Boggs.
August 20, 2013
You have been in my thoughts in the weeks since your mom’s passing. I am sure your heart and correspondence have been overflowing. I am so deeply sorry for your loss. I am sorry for all of us who knew her and loved her.
I have said to friends and family in recent weeks that Lindy is the answer to our modern riddle of why there seem to be so few giants in public life these days. I have told them that you must be a great human being before you can be a great politician. From what I have read and studied about your daddy, and what I know firsthand about your mom, that is the answer. So simple, but this truth is not appreciated by folks who did not grow up in Washington in the 50’s, 60’s, and early 70’s.
You and your mom have meant so much to the National Archives for many years. She was so helpful to me. In my role as a man in a nice suit with a tin cup, begging for history funding, your mother’s advice, and her willingness to come along were priceless. One of my favorite memories was our visit to Steny Hoyer, then the chair of our appropriations committee. I arrived early and was chatting with the congressman when he received a phone call from the emergency phone in the Longworth elevator. It was Lindy, trapped between floors, but calm as a summer breeze. Steny doubled over with laughter at one point in the brief conversation. When he got off the phone, still laughing, he said Lindy says not to worry. “There is a lovely young man trapped on the elevator with me and we are doing just fine.”
She arrived moments later, unscathed, and ready to make the sale for the Archives. I was never prouder to play adjutant to her on that day and on many other great visits. Her flapless style, her kind interest in her fellow travelers, and her patience with the people and the process made her a soft-spoken giant. I learned so much just watching her.
I hope that the celebration of your mom’s life and the days and weeks that will follow will ease the pain of saying goodbye.
We are loving Raleigh and being closer to my daughter, son-in-law, and Harper Rose (the most beautiful 14-month-old in the universe). In the small world department, one couple that we have enjoyed getting to know through our church are Lee’s backdoor neighbors. Give us a shout when you visit. Would love to have you and Steve over for a beverage. We have a big front porch and know how to use it.
Best to you Cokie,