For Bostonians, perhaps it depended upon age or generation.
Following the non-stop media coverage of the passing and life of Senator Kennedy, today your image may be cast by the recollections of his Congressional colleagues, the Irish wake Memorial Service that resembled a roast, the throngs of people who lined the streets of Boston and Cape Cod, the eulogy of President Barack Obama, or the heartfelt words of his sons Ted Jr. and Patrick.
In his passing, many of us actually got to know him– Ted the man versus Ted the caricature often played out in the media.
Regardless of where you stood in reference to his politics, you could not help but be moved by the portrait drawn the past few days of a music loving, dedicated parent and uncle who shared his love of history, fondness for pranks, commitment to public service, competitiveness, and love of the sea with his family, friends, and staff.
The theme echoed over and over was that Teddy had a rich, exuberant life characterized by an overriding desire to make the United States a better country. Not without his flaws certainly, but his acknowledgement of his imperfections and desire to do better marked the only Kennedy son we saw become a grandfather, and an elder statesman.
Countless thousands of people who stood hours in line to view his casket, told of the multitude of times he called them, helped them, visited them, sat with them, prayed with them, and counseled them when they needed him.
The Senator wrote notes, showed up for the best and worst times in people’s lives, comforted them during suffering, and encouraged them in times of need.
His pride in Boston, his deep faith, and his dedication to filling the shoes left by his departed brothers was painted in broad brushstrokes by the many who spoke of their relationship with Ted.
The change manifested when he married Vicki, enabled him to live his final years a happy, fulfilled man. He seemed to relish all of his roles and exhibited the Irish charisma and gift of gab for which his brothers were elevated to iconic heights.
For many of us, it brought back memories of when Boston was a different place, and reminded us of a time when families were always in close proximity and not located in the various corners of the world.
It brought back remembered conversations with grandparents -when they spoke of the Kennedys with awe and pride. Some of us grew up in similar large boisterous families, or we were fortunate to have close friends with families who welcomed you into their fold.
There was always strong, eloquent debate at the dinner table followed by a slap on the back and a game on the front lawn. Qualities that apparently enabled Ted to be an effective legislator and dear friend to many, regardless of the party with which they were affiliated.
So the passing of Ted Kennedy, for many of us, reminded us of similar family figures whom we have mourned.
The family patriarch who brought the family together, taught them well, and cherished each individual for who they were.
Ted Kennedy showed up. He showed up in his life, and the lives of his family and constituents.
And for that alone, he will be remembered and remembered with fondness.
And for reminding us all of the importance and richness of family, he has eclipsed his achievements as a statesman.
Ted Kennedy was the Massachusetts senator all of my life..but I’m only just beginning to know him.
President Obama’s eulogy for Sen. Kennedy http://tedkennedy.org/eulogy
Kennedy’s Letter To Pope Revealed At Burial – Politics News Story – WCVB Boston http://bit.ly/kA7Kb
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