In her first public appearance since her husband’s death, Blanche d’Alpuget revealed former Prime Minister Bob Hawke was ready to go saying he had “no fear of death”, adding that he felt like he no longer had anything to contribute to society.
Sitting down for an emotional interview with Leigh Sales on Thursday’s episode of 7.30, the 75-year-old said the final year of her late husband’s life was both difficult and “one of the best times of their lives”, revealing her role as Hawke’s primary carer brought them closer together.
Blanche, who was married to Hawke for 25 years, discussed her love story with the iconic politician, opening up to Sales about the moment she first laid eyes on him in Jakarta. Revealing she had no idea who he was at the time, Blanche said she knew instantly he was “a really good guy”.
She also confessed to feeling “sad” for Hawke’s first wife Hazel, who he was married to between 1956 and 1995, saying: “I used to feel very sad for Hazel. There’s a French song called ‘La vie en rose’, one verse is translated to “take me to your arms again” and every time I sang it or hummed it I used to think of Hazel and feel very sad for her.
“My feelings about Hazel’s sadness didn’t change, I still always, really up until the end, felt that sorrow.”
.@leighsales: How do you think the love of old age does differs to young love? Because people don't talk about this very often.
Blanche: There's a great deal of softness. There's a great deal of intimacy. There are no secrets, there are no pretenses. #abc730 #auspol pic.twitter.com/5wUgkJqqqx
— abc730 (@abc730) May 23, 2019
Sales asked Blanche whether the outpouring of grief across the country has been a comfort to her during this difficult time, to which she said it had been a comfort but also “painful” because it brought all of her emotions to the surface. She added: “One of the things it has been marvellous for the country to have its heat softened by the thought of a part of them going away forever.”
Fighting back tears, Blanche also touched upon the topic of caring for her husband, who was 89 when he died last week, revealing it can be “wonderful to look after someone you love when they’re old and dying”.
“We didn’t have the joy of young love,” she said. “We had the joy of mature love and then the love of old age.”
Blanche, who married Hawke in 1995, also revealed that the former Labor leader had told her he no longer had anything to offer the nation. She added: “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.”
She also revealed that he had intended to vote in person in the federal election on May 18, before passing away just two days before the vote.
The former Labor prime minister passed away last Thursday at home in Sydney, with d’Alpuget confirming his death in a statement released to the media at the time.
“Today we lost Bob Hawke, a great Australian – many would say the greatest Australian of the post-war era,” she said.
“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.
“He abhorred racism and bigotry. His father, the Reverend Clem Hawke, told Bob that if you believed in the Fatherhood of God then you must also believe in the Brotherhood of Man. Bob would add today the Sisterhood of Women.
“Bob was dearly loved by his family, and so many friends and colleagues. We will miss him. The golden bowl is broken.”
Blanche also confirmed that the family would hold a private funeral for the beloved statesman, adding that a memorial service is set to be held in Sydney in coming weeks.