I’ve been thinking about the great women I’ve known, especially those who’ve passed on.
On Friday, I learned about the death of my friend, Susie Hurley DeConcini. Susie and I met when we were on the board of a Washington, D.C. non-profit that promoted the welfare of women and children. Thirty years my senior, Susie was always kind of ageless because she had so much energy, enthusiasm, and passion for life. She was at once a dignified lady who knew all the appropriate social graces because she’d been married to a US senator, while at the same time she was completely down to earth, hospitable, and always up for an adventure.
Hailing from a long line of strong women (her grandmother had been a suffragist) Susie’s life was about service and she affected a lot of change in her circles of influence and beyond — including bringing childcare to the US Senate and advocating for troubled youth. Susie was full of stories and would frequently share them at our board meetings, or whenever I had the good fortune of being with her.
I’ll never forget one board meeting trip to New Orleans where Susie invited the late Ambassador Lindy Boggs to join us for dinner at Antoine’s where the two regaled us younger women with great stories, after which we all walked down Bourbon Street to Boggs’ amazing historic home for more visiting. (I wrote about that here when Boggs passed away.)
I didn’t know Lady Lindy Boggs, but she seemed to me a lot like Susie, who embodied so much of what it means to be a great woman: Kind, strong, brave, loving, wise, dedicated to her children and loved ones, faith-filled, successful, a life-long learner, humble, confident, unafraid to be herself.
One of the many things I loved about Susie was that she had plain old common sense — a rarity these days. I’m sure that played a role in how she dealt with her cancer diagnosis. When she learned of it, she decided against surgeries and drugs that might prolong her life but not cure her, and chose to go through the dying process as naturally as possible, spending her remaining time with close family and friends, and checking things off her bucket list.
The last time I saw Susie was at the shower friends threw for us right before H and S came home. Susie was so supportive and interested in our decision to adopt — she herself had one or two adopted grandchildren. My life has been so intense since then and we never got together again. But Susie recently came to mind very intensely for a couple of days and I now know that’s when she died.
The person Susie was, and the way she lived her life, makes me think about my own legacy: What difference will I have made? What kind of woman do I want to be? Great women like Susie inspires such questions. I know she’d be the first to tell me that I’m doing great, and she’d encourage me to keep living my life to the full as best I can.
Rest in peace, dear Susie. Thanks for all that you brought to the world.
Image: Rosan Harmens at unsplash