— Fox News (@FoxNews) June 21, 2018
“All it means is whatever I do is a little bit harder and probably a little bit slower. And that’s basically it. Everybody has their cross to bear– everybody. I made a promise to myself on day one [after my injury]. I was not going to allow it to alter my life. It’s very easy to be characterized by the externalities in your life. I dislike people focusing on it. I made a vow when I was injured that it would never be what would characterize my life. I don’t want it to be the first line of my obituary. If it is, that will be a failure.”
When my beloved Uncle/Godfather passed away the one thing that stuck out in my mind the most about him was his intellect and ability to get around this world in his life. You see, my Uncle Jack had become a paraplegic in a drunk driving accident just days after getting out of the US Army Airborne where he had jumped out of planes. My Uncle then decided to exercise his mind. He literally read the dictionary from cover-to-cover more than once. He was an avid reader of science fiction and Kurt Vonnegut Jr., among other authors that became his favorites. He passed down his books, thousands of pieces puzzles, and taught me to play chess and poker … much to the hesitant dismay of my father (Jack’s older brother). Jack drove a car that had been modified for his needs. I had to borrow his car once, for a small stretch, and realized how much more ‘thought’ that had to be put into actually driving when you had to use your hand to control the gas and brake. Jack was a bit of a math wiz and became a CPA, working in an office and living in his own apartment an hour or more away from family. He had made an independent life for himself until he found the woman he would marry and share the rest of his life with. The one thought that came to mind when he finally died after a long road of dying was, “He was the tallest man I’ve ever known”, this man that spent most of his life in a wheelchair.
Jack admired Charles Krauthammer. Sometimes we were able to watch him on television together. At that time I not only had no idea Krauthammer was paralyzed, but was a quadriplegic … until Jack told me. And when my Uncle informed me of that huge detail he did so with a kinship pride in his voice.
I didn’t personally know Charles Krauthammer, but I do know the man filled the TV screen with his massiveness whenever he was on … even when he was silently listening when others added to the discussion.
I remember the firs time I went on television (@FoxNews) to give analysis on a subject. I remember rushed to turn on the TV to see if @krauthammer agreed. I remember seeing him thinking, “wow, no one cares what his legs look like only his words, that’s who I want to be”
— Johnny (Joey) Jones (@Johnny_Joey) June 21, 2018
A.B. Stoddard: The Unconfined Life of Charles Krauthammer
In nine years the only debate I ever won with Charles was about the 2011 debt reduction super committee that ultimately admitted failure and yielded the sequester. Charles, who had written a column touting its potential, conceded it was one of the rare instances when he had “not been cynical enough.” Roll the tape, the only — and very rare — moments Krauthammer ever backed down on “Special Report” were never due to a weaker fact arsenal but rather a temporary lapse of cynicism that affected his analysis.
Though we both love politics it was our discussions of parenthood that I savored the most. The most poignant anecdote involved a former friend of Charles’ beloved son Daniel turning on and bullying him, causing Charles such acute pain he couldn’t eat a full meal for a month. Charles did all he could to not allow his paralysis to alter fatherhood — taking Daniel skiing though he couldn’t join him, sharing themed movie marathons locked in a room every Christmas Day while asking his devoted wife, Robyn, to “throw food at us,” and imparting a love of learning that Charles was raised to embrace by his own father. I loved the story of him driving a young Daniel to New York, and pulling up to the hotel just as the climax unfolded in the audiobook they were listening to. “Keep driving,” the enthralled Daniel commanded his father, who did just that. I hold it up to this day with envy as an unrivaled parenting triumph.
Charles respected the hard work of parenting, that it wasn’t supposed to be easy. Many years ago, when my three teenagers were young, Charles encountered me before the show one night in one of my traditional Christmas collapses. Why so morose he asked me? I lamented the burden of keeping the magic alive — I was tired, broke, out of ideas for presents, out of time to buy them and wrap them and decorate and pack for whatever trip we were taking the day after and, I admitted to the entire makeup room, I hated Christmas. Dr. Krauthammer didn’t even pause — he said he was taking over my case, for which he would prescribe: 1) conversion to Judaism, 2) bedrest; and 3) sedatives, if necessary. I will forever cling, as I have each jolly season since, to his prescription that makes me smile through my Christmas grimace.
Sleep well, sir.