Soon after, she was back in the John Sealy Hospital in Galveston. She left to spend Christmas with the Bowens. One afternoon they drove her to the Colonial Country Club. Bertha says, "I remember Babe bending down and putting her hand on the green, just feeling it."
She lived for nine more months. On her 45th birthday, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead were playing in the Canada Cup in London and they arranged a moment of silent prayer for her; players from 30 countries joined the tribute.
Babe's endurance and her fine physical condition combined to cause a long, slow death. Toward the end she could scarcely move. Betty Dodd saw her 11 days before she died. She was now down to 80 pounds. They talked about victims in concentration camps and how they, too, weighed only 80 pounds and came back.
Babe Didrikson Zaharias died on Sept. 27, 1956. Betty Dodd was in Los Angeles. What she remembers most is the relief that Babe's ordeal was over. Two days later she went to Kansas City for a tournament. She and Babe had agreed that one would not attend the other's funeral.
George Zaharias was stricken. An Associated Press deathbed story began: " 'Babe never really asked God for too much,' Big George sobbed. 'She never asked Him to win any tournaments for her...she just prayed Him to let her get well.' "
Babe deserved better. Her death was so agonizing, so public, so sensationally reported that it is only now possible to see her in perspective, to appreciate her boldness, zest, courage, consummate skill—to call her the greatest woman athlete of all time.