Home Foreign Mario Cuomo final moments spent listening to son’s speeches

Mario Cuomo final moments spent listening to son’s speeches



Former Gov. Mario Cuomo, gravely ill at home with a bad heart, was no longer responsive by the time his son Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave his inauguration speech Thursday in Manhattan.

But knowing how much the former governor looked forward to that day, family members used an iPad and headphones to give him an opportunity to listen in from his Manhattan apartment.

Nearly five hours later, while Andrew Cuomo was in Buffalo completing his second inauguration speech of the day, Mario Cuomo took his last breath.

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In interviews Friday, family and friends said they took the timing as confirmation that the former governor could hear his son and wanted to be part of the moment before he passed away.

“Mario waited for Andrew to finish the inauguration before he left,” said Meyer “Sandy” Frucher, a longtime confidant and friend of Mario Cuomo.

“Everyone has this sense that Mario was waiting for the inauguration,” Frucher said. “What he was battling for the last week, somebody who was not as strong would not have stayed around.”

Indeed, Andrew Cuomo and his father had talked for weeks about the former governor attending the first inauguration ceremony Thursday, in lower Manhattan, a family source said.

The plan was for Mario Cuomo to hold a family Bible as his son took his oath.

“It was the governor’s idea,” after seeing how much his father enjoyed his election night celebration on Nov. 4 — the last time Mario Cuomo was seen in public, the family source said.

They abandoned the plan two days before the inauguration when the ailing Cuomo said he wasn’t feeling well enough to do it.

Instead, Andrew Cuomo’s celebrity chef girlfriend, Sandra Lee, held the Bible, which Mario Cuomo had used for at least one of his inaugurations.

New York’s political class was in mourning Friday as new tributes to long-time liberal lion poured in from across the nation.

At the state Capitol in Albany, flags were lowered to half-staff and black draping was placed around Mario Cuomo’s portrait in the Hall of Governors.

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Gov. Cuomo’s office announced that a wake for Mario Cuomo would be held Monday afternoon and evening at the Frank. E. Campbell Funeral Home in Manhattan. A private funeral service was planned for 11 a.m. Tuesday at St. Ignatius Loyola Church on Park Ave.

Cuomo and legislative leaders announced that the governor’s annual State of the State Address, initially planned for Wednesday, would be postponed until Jan. 21.

Andrew Cuomo stayed behind closed doors much of the day Friday while other family members, including Mario’s wife Matilda and younger son Chris, attended to funeral details.

“It is, what it is,” Chris Cuomo, a CNN anchor, said as he left the funeral home.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who infuriated Republican leaders with his stunning endorsement of Mario Cuomo in 1994, praised Cuomo as a “truly exceptional American” who raised the level of respect for Italian Americans and all elected officials.

“His ability to make riveting political speeches was only exceeded by his ability to logically argue and defend his position,” Giuliani said. “Even when you disagreed with him you could understand his position and it increased your knowledge of the issue.”

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Former President Jimmy Carter called Mario Cuomo a “dear friend and a constant inspiration.”

“Like an earlier governor of New York, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mario Cuomo gave passionate voice to the deepest convictions and aspirations not only of his party but of the United States of America at its best,” he said.

And former state Democratic Party Chairman John Marino, a longtime Cuomo confidante, said Mario Cuomo inspired a whole generation of political leaders with his compassion and leadership.

“I am a practicing Catholic as he was, so we know that life doesn’t end but we go to the next step and I really believe right now that Mario has earned a few conversations with Abe Lincoln,” said Marino.

Frucher, whose history with Mario Cuomo stretches back to the mid-1970s, said he expects a large turnout at Cuomo’s funeral.

“He was an extraordinary man,” Frucher said. “When you talk about greatness, this was a great man.” (mydailynews.com)

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