Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
She hadn't been sure that she even wanted a party because she hadn't wanted to think about going away:
"Hubert and I never said goodbye," she said, referring to a lifetime of departures before the one at the end.
She tried out some French ("au revoir," she said a little hesitantly) then let it go at that, knowing, perhaps, it all added up to the same thing Thursday: Sen. Muriel Humphrey (D-Minn.) saying goodbye to Capitol Hill.
"I was worn out, emotionally and physically, and to take on the immense job that I had taken on and the campaign at the same time were four more things than I thought I could manage.
"Besides," she continued, listing the reasons why she had not wanted to run for the office she was appointed to last winter after Hubert Humphrey died, "we have some very good candidates running and I didn't want to split up the party."
"She should have run," said Sen. Edmund S. Muskie, the Maine Democrat who a decade ago had been Hubert Humphrey's running mate against Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.
When Muskie took her in his arms, it was as good a time as any for one of them to cry but both held their tears in check, she confessing that Hubert hadn't always been as successful.
"He used to say that a man who doesn't shed a few tears doesn't have a heart."
At another point, she laughed that she is 66 years old and it's "high time" she did some other things. She acknowledged that Jimmy Carter has offered her a job, but would not say what. "It's something a ways off and I want some time to think it over."
Brief though it was (10 months), her Senate career had been gratifying: Humphrey-Hawkins ("we're going to have a good bill out of that"), projects in the fields of health and agriculture and "pertinent" things to the Midwest.
"Hopefully," she said, "we're going to have an icebreaker up on the Great Lakes so we'll have a better chance for opening up those lakes in winter."
"She's done an outstanding job as a senator," said Sen. Don Riegle (D-Mich.), "outstanding on the ERA extension - I'm not sure we could have gotten it out without her. And right in the center of Humphrey-Hawkins," the bill co-sponsored by her late husband which would set a national goal of 4 percent unemployment by 1983, and which some observers see heading into the final stretch as a farewell gesture to both Humphreys.
"Sentiment and political - it's become a symbol," said Muskie, quick to add "that doesn't make it unimportant. But where getting an agreement is breaking down is the fact that the supporters don't really want just a piece of paper, they want something meaningful in it."