President Obama had this to say in his eulogy about how Edward Kennedy’s personal love and pastoral care will be missed even more than his legislative skill:
But though it is Ted Kennedy's historic body of achievements we will remember, it is his giving heart that we will miss.
It was the friend and colleague who was always the first to pick up the phone and say, "I'm sorry for your loss," or "I hope you feel better," or "What can I do to help?"
It was the boss who was so adored by his staff that over five hundred spanning five decades showed up for his 75th birthday party.
It was the man who sent birthday wishes and thank you notes and even his own paintings to so many who never imagined that a U.S. senator would take the time to think about someone like them. I have one of those paintings in my private study -- a Cape Cod seascape that was a gift to a freshman legislator who happened to admire it when Ted Kennedy welcomed him into his office the first week he arrived in Washington; by the way, that's my second favorite gift from Teddy and Vicki after our dog Bo. And it seems like everyone has one of those stories -- the ones that often start with "You wouldn't believe who called me today."
Ted Kennedy was the father who looked after not only his own three children, but John's and Bobby's as well. He took them camping and taught them to sail. He laughed and danced with them at birthdays and weddings; cried and mourned with them through hardship and tragedy; and passed on that same sense of service and selflessness that his parents had instilled in him.
Shortly after Ted walked Caroline down the aisle and gave her away at the altar, he received a note from Jackie that read, "On you the carefree youngest brother fell a burden a hero would have begged to be spared. We are all going to make it because you were always there with your love."
Text of Obama’s Eulogy at Kennedy’s Funeral Mass, Associated Press, 30 August 2009.
Ted Kennedy Legislating with Principle, Mutuality and the Luck of the Irish, SFS, 1 September 2009.
Dr Geoff Pound
Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.
Image: Ted Kennedy sharing a joke.