Jackie Gingrich Cushman

For almost a year, my husband, Jimmy and I had been counting down to Sept. 29. Last October, Jimmy was asked if we would chair the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Garden of Eden Ball. Without asking me, he declined, due to our busy family life with two small children.

Later that month, while at Party City (picking up a few Halloween decorations), I ran into the ABG fundraising director. A few days later, Jimmy and I had agreed to chair the ball, honoring Jimmy’s grandfather, Philip H. Alston, Jr.. The ball was to be held Sept. 29, 2007. Remember, persistence often pays off.

A few weeks later, during one of our many conversations regarding the ball, Jimmy noted that “we will be closer or divorced when this is all over.” While this was said with some levity, I took to heart the idea that this would be an opportunity for us to learn to work better together.

Christmas came and went, and early this year, my father, Newt Gingrich, announced that Solutions Day would be held on Sept. 27 and 29. We now had an additional reason to look forward to Sept. 29.

The week before that fateful day began quietly enough due to all the advance preparation for both events. But this rapidly changed when dad announced that a committee would be formed to raise $30 million in pledges, potentially leading to his running for president.

During the week, I began prepping our children, hoping to give them enough ammunition not to be fazed by the thoughtless comments that I knew - from my experience as the daughter of a politician – that some people would say to young children whose relatives are involved in politics.

During one of our late-night talks that week, while we were both sitting on our kitchen counter, Jimmy said he would “support whatever involvement” I thought was best in my father’s endeavor.

Friday Sept. 28 was a whirlwind. It began with a 6-mile run with a friend (for the third day in a row, trying to maintain my sanity). I worked, went to the garden to cheer on the wonderful volunteers during lunch (I did fold a few napkins), returned home, called a radio show for an interview, met the children as they got off the school bus, picked up my ball dress and a T-ball jersey that had a child’s name silkscreened on the back.

Somehow it all worked out – I began to have faith that no matter what was thrown at us, We would attain the goal of simply getting through it one breath at a time – focusing on the present.

The morning of Sept. 29, Dad called around 9 a.m.. We chatted about the probability of raising the pledges and I told him that “I will support you,” and we discussed the fact that “we just have to live it out to see what happens.”


Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.