In an interview just eight months before John McCain’s death, the late senator talked to PEOPLE about his family, his legacy, and why he feels so fulfilled.
“The major aspect of my view is that I am the luckiest guy that ever lived,” the 81-year-old, who died on Aug. 25 after a battle with glioblastoma, told PEOPLE in November in a two part interview just before and after daughter Meghan McCain’s wedding to Ben Domenech. “In other words, I have been so fortunate to have the full life that I have had full of time and adventure and excitement.”
Sharing details of Meghan’s wedding, the Senator said that “it was wonderful,” and that everything was perfect.
“A lot of our friends and neighbors were there,” he said, admitting that while the guests stayed up late, he wasn’t able to.
“I didn’t because of my advanced and declining years,” he said. “It was really nice. It couldn’t have nicer.”
The late senator’s wife, Cindy McCain, 64, added that they released two rehabbed hawks during the ceremony and that “it was really special.”
Added Cindy: “I started to cry when I went into the room where she was getting dressed with all of her friends. She had just put her wedding dress on and I burst into tears. She looked so pretty. She looked very beautiful.”
She also admitted that Meghan had been very emotional in the days leading up to the wedding, but on the day of the actual wedding “she was very calm.”
“It’s like the day was here, her dad was here, which was most important,” she said. “And she was very positive.”
After reflecting on the wedding and their final Thanksgiving together — where Sen. McCain admits he deep fried seven turkeys — he told PEOPLE that “we are very fortunate.”
“We are the most fortunate people on earth,” he said. “I have had noting but an incredibly full life and to be able to enjoy the beauty of his place. You can’t ask for anything more than that really. And you know when people are saying, ‘I hope you can get over this,’ I believe I will. But the most important thing is I’m the most fortunate guy that ever lived.”
Sen. McCain lived out his final days in Arizona, with his family by his side. The location was a very spiritual for the politician. Even in November, he was thinking about the end of his life and the legacy he’d leave behind..
“I think if there’s something on my tombstone, it’ll be ‘he served his country…’ and hopefully you add one word, ‘honorably,’ ” McCain said. “But I also wanna emphasize, look I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve lost races. I’ve caved in to what seems to be the easy way out and clearly wasn’t. That’s why I hope that it would say ‘he served his country,’ not always mistake free.”
“There’s nothing but gratitude for a life fully lived and that’s really a remarkable,” he continued. “No one has lived, that I know, as full a life as I have lived. I have nothing but gratitude.”
On Saturday, Sen. McCain’s Washington, D.C. funeral was held — marking the end of a five-day, cross-country procession from Arizona that culminated in memorial services at the U.S. Capitol on Friday morning. The late senator and war hero will be buried in the cemetery at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, after a private memorial service.