Following four months of aggressive treatment at the National University Hospital in Singapore, former First Lady Ani Yudhoyono breathed her last on Saturday, June 1, 2019.
With her demise, Indonesia has lost one of its finest figures, who served as first lady to the sixth Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) during the 2004-2014 period.
During the SBY administration's decade-long term, the government was confounded with numerous challenges for which quick and accurate solutions were found.
Merely few months into assuming office as president to replace Megawati Soekarnoputri, a tsunami devastated Aceh and Nias in December 20014, resulting in Indonesia incurring huge losses.
During that time, the government had to promptly implement emergency response measures to move the dead and care for the injured while supporting survivors and setting up refugee camps. Even as assistance from friendly nations later poured in, the government also had to ensure that aid was channeled properly without affecting the sovereignty of the country.
In the midst of these challenges, Ani Yudhoyono, as the first lady, was by the president's side, lending support, not only to her husband but also to the Acehnese affected by this major disaster.
Ani then formed an organization for the wives of cabinet ministers called SIKIB that works in the field of children's education, by initiating mobile libraries, or "perpustakaan keliling."
One of the popular programs is to promote the establishment of smart houses, or "rumah pintar," aimed at providing space for children to access reading books and a place for women to pick up skills and families to have empowerment activities.
Ani Yudhoyono, the third child of Military General Sarwo Edhie Wibowo, was born in Yogyakarta on July 6, 1952.
Her biography titled "Ani Yudhoyono: Kepak Sayap Putri Prajurit" (Ani Yudhoyono: the Wings of a Soldier's Daughter) sheds light on Ani being born and raised in a family of soldiers, who were constantly on the move to follow her father's assignments.
Ani's life, as quoted from the biography written by Alberthiene Endah, could not be separated from soldiers.
SBY, whom she married on July 30, 1976, was also an Army officer, who later became the president, while Ani's eldest son, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, also was a soldier, although he retired early as a major.
In the midst of her hectic life as first lady, Ani harbored keen interest in photography, with several of her photographs shot on camera posted on her Instagram account @aniyudhoyono that has 6.4 million followers.
Ani's Instagram posts frequently drew positive responses and comments from netizens, while she seemed to enjoy photography as a hobby in addition to gardening.
The journalists that reported during SBY's administration knew Ani as also being a friendly and warm figure. During official events at the Presidential Palace as well as visits to regions in Indonesia and abroad, she always greeted reporters on several occasions.
Not only greeting them, Ani also obliged with requests for joint photographs from journalists, covering the president's activities on several occasions.
An interesting fact about Ani Yudhoyono was that before the 2014 election, several people had anticipated her becoming a candidate for president. However, Ani remained unwavering in her stance to not enter politics, as she elucidated in her biography published in 2010.
"If SBY is not a president, then the most honorable position for me is to continue to be Mrs. SBY. Not to be president," she stated.
Last wing flap
In February 2019, SBY had informed the public of Ani's health after she was diagnosed with blood cancer. The news came as a shock to the public, as Ani was known to be an active woman.
In 2018, Ani was active on a tour of the Democratic Party, led by SBY, to several Indonesian regions. A year earlier, Ani, accompanied her first son, Agus Harimurti, on a campaign for the Jakarta regional election that was later won by Anies Baswedan and his pair Sandiaga Uno as governor and vice governor of Jakarta.
Since February this year, Ani Yudhoyono was in Singapore for the treatment of her illness. SBY then decided to curtail his political activities to offer full support and care for his lovely wife.
Several figures, including President Joko Widodo and First Lady Iriana, had paid a visit to Ani at the hospital to support her.
However, God had a different plan for Ani. A month before her 67th birthday, the woman, whose full name was Kristiani Herrawati, passed away.
Ani is survived by SBY, two sons, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren.
Ani Yudhoyono finally stopped flapping her wings as the daughter of a soldier, the wife of a soldier, and the mother of a soldier, leaving behind fond memories for all Indonesians, who had borne witness to her magnanimity and kindness.
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