Ann Richards: Oh, What A Ride
Last Sunday morning, I sat on my living room couch reading in the newspaper about the ceremonies surrounding the passing of Ann Richards.
Once I read that her coffin would be lying in state in the Capitol until 8 p.m. that night, I quickly threw some clothes in a bag, dressed in black and hit the road for Austin.
My big sister and her partner asked me to join them after I was done at the Capitol.
We planned to go to Scholz Garden, a political beer joint close to the Capitol, for an informal wake for the Governor.
As I arrived at the Capitol, the line to get in snaked almost to the street.
On either side of the steps, bunches of flowers- mostly yellow roses- were thrown casually on the lawn.
Just as I was about to enter the building, two ladies asked the woman behind me if they could cut in line. I looked behind me, ready to glare, only to look into the eyes of New York Post Columnist Liz Smith and ABC Correspondent Cynthia McFadden.
On impulse I grabbed McFadden, hugged her, welcomed her to Texas and said, "Please don't think most of us Texans aren't aware that George W. Bush is an idiot."
She laughed and said, "That's for sure."
Just past the entry was a kiosk of photos of Ann in her early days.
Then, between two ramrod straight Texas DPS guards stood her rosewood coffin, draped with a Texas flag.
I stood at the coffin and said a prayer, then moved to the right to view another photo display- this one covering Ann in her active years as a politician.
I stood there and sobbed into my hands. I couldn't help it.
As I continued along the rotunda, I saw her portrait hanging among the other past Texas Governors. Hers bore a black drape at the top, and on the floor below were flowers and mementos visitors had left, including a "One Day at a Time" sign, no doubt left by one of her AA friends.
By then the tears spilled through my hands to the floor...until I looked to the right and saw former Governor George W. Bush's portrait.
His smug grin and dopey face snapped me out of my grief and led me quickly out the door.