Geraldine Ferraro, who passed on Saturday, broke political ground when she ran for the vice presidency on the Democratic ticket with Walter Mondale in 1984. They lost to Reagan-Bush, but she inspired a generation of women to go into politics.
She was one tough lady.
It really wasn't so long ago that having a woman one breath from the presidency was essentially a fantasy. Geraldine Ferraro, who made it to the top of the Democratic ticket in 1984, nearly made that dream come true.
Hers was a life of firsts: First woman to chair the Democratic Platform Committee. First female vice-presidential nominee. First major-league Italian-American on a presidential ticket.
As unflinching as she was as a crimefighting assistant district attorney, as indomitable as she was while representing New York in Congress, Ferraro was also -- unapologetically -- a dedicated mother of two daughters and a son.
For her, parenting and politics were both vital parts of her existence-- and through her actions, she proved to America's women that they did not have to choose a life consisting solely of one or the other.
Ferraro didn't give up her feminine or maternal sensibilities to make it in a political world dominated by men. That said, if they hadn't let her into the old boys' club, she might've kicked the door down.
Even during a long battle with the cancer that finally took her, Ferraro did not turn her back on the events of the day. She stepped up to help another woman who captivated America, Hillary Clinton, and later proved her loyalty during the candidacy of Andrew Cuomo for governor. She saw and took a chance to give another woman, Leslie Crocker Snyder, a leg up in the 2009 Manhattan district attorney's race.
Geraldine Ferraro was not a saint. However, with a candor rare and valuable in politicians, if not always gracefully worded, she didn't try to present herself as one.
She, like all of us, was imperfect. But she, like few of us, became a role model and a symbol. Ferraro was honest enough to say that at the time that she might not have reached the civic heights she did had she not been a woman, but she damn well made the most of it.
As President Obama said of his daughters upon this trailblazer's death, "Sasha and Malia will grow up in a more equal America because of the life Geraldine Ferraro chose to live."