I remember the moment we realized that he was in a wheelchair. He was commenting on some issue, leaned forward, and I saw what I thought was a handle of some kind on the back of his “seat.”
“I think Krautie is paralyzed!” I gasped as my daughters came over to the TV for a closer look. (We adoringly called him Krautie and dubbed his sharp and sarcastic commentary “hammer-time.”) It was then that we noticed the unnatural bend in an arm that appeared limp. “My gosh,” I wondered, “how could we have missed that?”
We “missed it” because Charles Krauthammer’s presence, engagement and intellect completely overshadowed his disability. A student at Harvard Medical School at the time of his diving accident, he spent 14 weeks in the hospital but continued to study and graduated on time with his class.
“The first week,” Charles wrote, ” I thought, the terrible thing is that people are going to judge me now by a different standard. If I can just muddle through life, they’ll say it was a great achievement, given this. I thought that would be the worst, that would be the greatest defeat in my life if I allowed that. I decided if I could make people judge me by the old standard, that would be a triumph and that’s what I try to do. It seemed to me the only way to live.”
And Charles did just that. Through sheer determination and effort, he “lived the life he intended.” After he died this past summer at age 68, his son finished his final book, a compilation of articles and speeches entitled “The Point of it all.” Yes, Charles was married, (44 yrs) has a grown son and yes, he was working on a book in the almost 12months he was hospitalized before his death.
Quintessential Charles Krauthammer.