Monday, September 10, 2012

the last book I ever read (Katharine Graham's Personal History, exerpt twelve)

from Personal History by Katharine Graham:

Adlai stayed in my room for at least an hour. When he departed, he left behind his tie and his glasses, so I crept quietly down the hall to his bedroom and put them in front of his door. The next day, when I got back to the embassy in the late afternoon, the butler answered the bell looking very glum and immediately asked me, “Have you heard about Governor Stevenson?”

“No,” I responded, “what is it?”

“He’s dead,” was the reply.

I was crushed and disbelieving. He had been walking with Marietta in the rare late-afternoon British sunshine when he just fell to the ground with a fatal heart attack. Eric Sevareid arrived as I stood there, as did Marietta and Phil Kaiser, minister at the embassy, who were returning from the hospital; they had gone there in the ambulance with Adlai. Eric told me that he though Adlai had looked unusually tired—several times during their conversation the night before, Adlai had leaned back and closed his eyes. Not exactly how I found him later, I ruminated, thinking guiltily of the glasses and tie at his door.

Adlai had spoken to me, as he did to many of us, about wanting to resign from his position at the United Nations to take a rest and then go back into private business, but I had no idea how tired he must have been. In many ways, he was an unhappy man. Eric Sevareid said on the CBS Evening News a few days later that Adlai had told him, “For a while I would just like to sit in the shade with a glass of wine in my hands and watch people dance.”

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