Cindy McCain

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Nearly five months after her husband's death from brain cancer, Cindy McCain is still finding new reasons to celebrate his legacy around the world.

When she sat down with me, she'd just received a photo from a friend in Hanoi, Vietnam. It was of a new garden planted around the stone monument that stands at the spot where McCain's plane landed in a lake more than 50 years ago.

"It's heavily decorated and beautiful now," she said. "They planted grass and flowers all around it."

[RELATED: Arizona's Family visits Hanoi, 50 years after McCain's time as POW]

McCain Hanoi Monument Garden

"John used to joke that the Vietnamese offered to take it down, but he told them to leave it up because it's the only monument he has," she continued with a laugh.

As with any family that suffered a great loss, the McCains' holidays were very different this year.

On Instagram, Cindy McCain said the family carried on with what she called a "celebration of life."

"John was always in charge, so we lost our rudder a bit in regards to the holidays," she said. "But I was grateful we celebrated this year, and celebrated his life. We're doing exactly what he would've wanted, and moving on."

Mrs. McCain often thinks about how her late husband would be reacting to events in Washington, D.C., and around the globe.

Cindy McCain and Jared Dillingham

"We're missing him. Not just on the issues, but in terms of leadership and statesmanship," she said. "Right now I believe our country is in a quandary. We seem to have lost our way on many things." 

She said she's not disappointed that former Sen. Jon Kyl only filled her husband's seat for four months. She also said she supports Gov. Doug Ducey's decision to appoint Sen. Martha McSally to replace Kyl.

[RELATED: Sen. Jon Kyl resigning from U.S. Senate on Dec. 31]

"That's the governor's call. I support the governor in these things," McCain said.

In a Twitter message, Mrs. McCain said Arizona will "be pulling for her."

McCain and McSally met recently to smooth things over and put the past where it belongs.

"It went very well. We're over that now. We need to move on," she said. "What this means to me is that we are going to move forward and that our state will be well-represented in the nation."

Other members of the McCain family are not on board with McSally.

[RELATED: Gov. Doug Ducey appoints Martha McSally to U.S. Senate]

[AND THIS: Arizona makes history with McSally, Sinema sworn into U.S. Senate]

In addition to McSally's close relationship with President Donald Trump, who came to Arizona to campaign for her last year, the McCains were hurt over what was widely seen as a direct snub last fall.

Donald Trump John McCain Defense Bill

President Donald Trump holds up a $716 billion defense policy bill named for Sen. John McCain he signed Monday, Aug. 13, 2018, in Fort Drum, N.Y.

Trump traveled to Fort Drum to sign the John McCain Defense Authorization Act, but never mentioned McCain's name in his speech.

[ABOUT THAT: Trump signs McCain defense measure, doesn't thank McCain (Aug. 13, 2018)]

McSally traveled with the president, spoke, and did an interview with Fox News during the ceremony, but also neglected to mention McCain.

It drew a rebuke from Meghan McCain, who tweeted: [McSally's] inability to even mention my father's name when discussing the bill named in his honor is disgraceful (just as it was with Trump) - I had such higher hopes for the next generation of leadership in my home state."

After Ducey appointed McSally, Meghan McCain retweeted her husband's post, in which he called McSally "an unwise choice for a number of reasons."

Meghan McMcain retweets husband's post about McSally decision

McSally dismissed the criticism and accused the media of creating drama.

Mrs. McCain said McSally delivered an apology at their meeting.

"She did apologize for things that she said and I accepted that. She was very gracious," McCain said of her meeting with McSally.

Mrs. McCain considers the suggestion that she might have made a good senator a compliment. But she has other priorities.

Sen. John McCain’s family cries over flag-draped casket

Children of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., from back left Sidney McCain, Meghan McCain and her husband Ben Domenech, Bridgett McCain, front center and daughter-n-law Holly McCain, follow behind the casket into the Capitol rotunda.

"I appreciate it. My job right now is to support my family," she said. "We've had a huge loss, and they're each dealing with it in their own ways. Most of all they need their mother, so that's what I'm doing."

[RELATED: AP: Death of Sen. John McCain is top Arizona story of 2018]

At the same time, she expects other members of the family to enter politics.

"There's interest in all of them, and two or three might do it," she said.

Cindy McCain is now the chair of the McCain Institute. Since her husband's death, she's spoken at the United Nations and met with world leaders. She will continue the Institute's mission on issues ranging from foreign policy to human trafficking to human rights.

Arizona honors Sen. John McCain

Cindy McCain pressed her face against the flag-draped casket of her husband, U.S. Sen. John McCain, on Wednesday.

"It's John's legacy I'm in charge of now," she said.

[READ MORE: Cindy McCain calls on people to 'get into the arena' to honor late husband]

[RELATED: Arizona Sen. John McCain dead at 81]

From Instagram

View this post on Instagram

@meghanmccain sent this to me. I just love it.

A post shared by Cindy McCain (@cindymccain) on Nov 3, 2018 at 9:07am PDT

View this post on Instagram

My first trip to see him since we buried him. What a tribute! #imissyousomuchjohn

A post shared by Cindy McCain (@cindymccain) on Dec 2, 2018 at 7:20am PST

Jared anchors the News at 8 on 3TV, and reports for both 3TV and CBS 5. He frequently contributes to the 3TV franchise series 3TV Originals. 


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