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Lion Lost

The death of Ted Kennedy hit me hard.  Not only because I fear for our chances to see real and fundamental health care reform without him, but for personal reasons. 

My dad was friends with Ted Kennedy.  I was pretty little so I don’t remember the details, but apparently after the plan crash and Kennedy’s terrible back injury he did some rehab out west after being released from the hospital.  Someone contacted my dad, and told him Teddy was lonely, and would dad go by and offer some company.  It’s been so long and I can’t remember whether this was in New Mexico or Arizona.    My dad did go to visit Ted, and came home saying that this was the smartest of the Kennedy boys, and he had met the others. 

 I don’t know why my dad got the call.  I have this impression that dad knew Joe Kennedy Sr.  It’s  possible because the Kennedy fortune was born from liquor and my dad was a rum runner during Prohibition.   See, dad had this flight school back in 1927.  Except there weren’t a lot of people lining up to learn how to fly orange crates covered in cardboard, so to keep afloat my dad would fly into Canada, and bring back a load of booze.  This is only one facet of my dad’s amazing life, and someday I’ll find a way to tell his story.  But that’s for another day. 

 I know my dad subscribed to the Joe Kennedy Sr. school of child rearing — “push them until they succeed or die trying, there is no second place, there’s winning and losing.”  It wasn’t easy, but it certainly gave me drive, and the will to succeed.  A friend pointed out to me that my grief over Ted Kennedy is actually bound up in grief over my father.  It’s funny how an event, or a song, or even a smell can bring back buried emotions.  Even though my dad’s been gone for a long time, I still miss him.

And now I miss Kennedy.  When you look at a list of legislative accomplishments it’s breathtaking.  I don’t think there is a person in this country who’s life hasn’t been improved because of legislation passed by Edward Kennedy — from medicare and medicad to the voting rights acts, Title Nine, Person’s with Disabilities act.

Maybe we’ll see his like again.  I hope so because somehow we’ve got to find the ability to govern again.  When people are bringing guns to public events, and when no one is able or willing to compromise or think past the next election — well, I fear for the country.

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