Hawke's wife opens up about former PM's death
WHEN Blanche d'Alpuget recalls the final year of her husband's life, she starts welling up.
"It was both difficult and it was also one of the best times of our lives, because we were so close and intimate during that time while I was his main carer," she says.
"And we often said to each other, we've been blessed to have this period together."
In a heartbreaking interview with 7.30 host Leigh Sales, the wife of former prime minister Bob Hawke revisited the 89-year-old's final moments before his death last week.
"You're going to make me cry," Ms d'Alpuget told Sales.
"I'm trying not to. I'm trying hard not to. I'm sorry," Sales replied.
Last week, Sales had to hold back tears when news of Mr Hawke's death came during the middle of her show.
Ms d'Alpuget explained how the couple didn't have the joy of young love. "He had that with Hazel. But we had the joy of mature love and then the love of old age," she said.
"And people don't realise - I'm really not going to cry - how wonderful it can be to look after somebody you love when they're old and dying."
The great Australian hero, the country's 23rd prime minister and third-longest serving leader, died peacefully in his sleep last week. Australians mourned the loss of the beer-loving larrikin who led Labor to four consecutive election victories.
Mr Hawke was just days away from voting, and given Labor's shocking loss, Ms d'Alpuget said it was "probably a good thing" her husband was not around to see it.
"He decided he wasn't going to postal vote," Ms d'Alpuget revealed on Thursday night. "He was going to go up in his wheelchair and vote, but he didn't get there.
"He said to me, 'I can't make any further contribution. I've got no contribution to make now.' Which was one of the reasons he wanted to die, because he thought of his life as contributing to society."
Last week she was the one to release the statement about Mr Hawke's death.
"Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian - many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era," she wrote.
Ms d'Alpuget said Mr Hawke "abhorred racism and bigotry" and believed in the equality of men and women.
"Among his proudest achievements were large increases in the proportion of children finishing high school, his role in ending apartheid in South Africa, and his successful international campaign to protect Antarctica from mining," she said.
The statement ended by saying Mr Hawke was "dearly loved by his family, and so many friends and colleagues. We will miss him. The golden bowl is broken".
Condolences were led by Labor leader Bill Shorten, who said Mr Hawke "inspired such profound affection and admiration, such loyalty and love among so many".
A day before his death, a letter had been released by Mr Hawke endorsing Mr Shorten's bid for prime minister.