A perfect example of the kind of wife Chaz Ebert is can be found in the Esquire article, "Roger Ebert: The Essential Man." During a walk through the park one day, Roger worries that he won't be able to make it up a gravel incline: "Chaz lets go of his hand. 'You can do it,' she says, and she claps when Ebert makes it to the top on his own."
That's Chaz—solid, steadfast and loyal, willing to step back and encourage her husband of 18 years to make his own way, but always waiting nearby in case he does fall. Would You Win The Oscar For Best-Supporting Wife?
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Roger, who first began treatment for thyroid cancer in 2002, has been weakened by multiple surgeries and hasn't spoken to Chaz since a 2006 operation took his ability to talk, eat and drink. And since he didn't realize that would be the last time he ever spoke, he can't remember what his last words were. When he and Chaz stopped by The Oprah Winfrey Show this week, he told the host, "They were probably [to Chaz], 'I love you.' At least I hope those were my last words."
Although Roger had been speaking with the aid of text-to-speech computer software, the voice was a generic one, much like the one Stephen Hawking uses. The Eberts' appearance on Oprah's show gave Roger a chance to show off his new voice—which is actually his old voice! With the help of old DVD commentary recorded throughout the movie critic's career, the Scottish company CereProc was able to recreate Roger's voice and incorporate it into his software. Upon hearing her husband "talk" again for the first time in four years, Chaz held Roger's hand and cried tears of joy.
Roger and Chaz truly are an inspiring couple. It's refreshing in these times (and in this industry) to see such a positive illustration of what marriage should be: a bond that truly lasts "in sickness and in health." How To Handle Your Partner's Health Problems
Oprah (who once dated Roger herself!) applauded Chaz's devotion with this statement:
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I would like to say, from one woman to another, you are incredible. The reason is this: This woman refused to let him die. Years ago during the early, first operations when everybody was saying it's done, it's over, Chaz called me and said, 'I refuse to let him die.' And she stood by him and has been with him and taken care of him and shown what true love is.
Photo via Chris Strong/Time Out Chicago.