ESTRICH: The curse of March 7 strikes again

On March 7, 1977, my father died. He had suffered a major heart attack, his first, 10 days before. He was 54. I never quite recovered.

On March 7, 2000, my best friend, journalist Judy Jarvis, died of lung cancer, having battled her stage 4 diagnosis with courage and dignity that took my breath away and (I believe) added precious months, maybe even a year, to her life.

Of all the days in the year, 365 to choose from, why March 7? For 18 years, I have been lighting two candles.

Bad things come in threes, my mother used to say. So much worry. So many superstitions. I am my mother’s daughter. March 7 makes me anxious as well as so sad.

“I don’t know if you’ve heard,” my friend Chris gently began her message. As you get older, you come to dread messages like that. Rarely do they bring good news.

Chuck Campion, one of the finest people in politics, died last week, on March 7th. He was Boston at its best, with a gift for politics borne of genuine affection and compassion, one of those people who made you better for knowing him.

In the dark days of the Dukakis campaign, I called him Chuckles.

He only said no to me once.

I think it was the Fourth of July, 1988. I was supposed to be at the airport with a crew of politicians to meet the Rev. Jesse Jackson. My stomach was killing me. I could barely move. “Can you cover for me?” I asked. I was the campaign manager. He was the political director. “No,” he said.


He said he would make some calls. He would make sure it got taken care of. But he wasn’t going to the airport. He was coming to pick me up.

“I don’t have a doctor in Boston,” I told him.

“I do,” he said.

He stared mortality in the face when we were all still kids, and he never blinked. By the time he died, he’d had three kidney transplants.

In the picture that ran with his obituary, he is still smiling.

His wife, Heather — it was always “Chuck and Heather” — said that when he needed a transplant five years ago, 37 people stepped forward to be tested to donate. Who has 37 friends? Chuck had more than that.

I try to explain to people the love affair I had with presidential politics in the ‘80s, one losing campaign after another. “Politics is not horseshoes,” we used to say. No glory in finishing second. Losing campaigns test your mettle. Chuck never faltered. He turned it around.

“A reminder to enjoy life,” my ex-husband writes back about the news. He hadn’t heard. We all did Mondale together.

After Clinton won in ‘92 — finally, a winner — Chuck co-founded the Dewey Square Group. Dewey Square is in the heart of Boston. He chalked up wins. He and Heather raised the kids. Chris told me they’re great kids. How could they not be? But they are too young to have lost their dad. This is what I want to say: Your dad never really leaves you, not when he is a dad like Chuck. Or like my dad. That is what I remind myself every March 7. Chuck was 62. Rest in peace, my friend. And thank you.