Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ted Strong

Ted Kennedy died last night. Today I wore blue.

I was asleep when it hit the news, but Mike woke me up to tell me. Getting woken up in the middle of the night is bad enough, but to be asked “I have bad news, do you feel up to it?” isn’t the best follow up.

I get that, for most people, this death is still far secondary to the recent demise of Michael Jackson but, for me, the Kennedy family has always been something far more fascinating. I must have been pretty young when I developed my attachment to the Kennedy’s, because I don’t remember when it happened or what triggered it. Teddy delivered his concession speech five years before I was born. I was nine when Jackie died, and I remember being sorry that she was gone. When John-John died in ’99 I felt for Ted and Eunice but I wasn’t interested in the eons of searching and the conspiracy theories that came forward. When Patrick got clocked with a hammer during a business meeting, I blogged about it. There are Kennedy’s in my dreams, there are Kennedy’s in my closet. There are even Kennedy’s in my office. While my heart may have gone out to Bobby, and Mike may have a tremendous love for the man who gave him the space program, Teddy, by virtue some would say of his mediocrity, has managed to outlast them both, and his legacy is larger than life.

When Sam Johnson died, I wrote the following:

Respect your elders. They’ve seen more than you can imagine. Their stories and advice are the only things that they have to offer you that are of any real value and they’re the only thing you’ll have left after they’ve gone. Realize that you get only one chance, but live it in a way that you won’t have to apologize for later. Never ask permission or apologize for doing something you believe in. Understand that the good things in life – the things you should be most proud of – aren’t tangible; they’re the things that can only be seen by looking into a person’s eyes. Be patient with your friends, but hold firm to what you believe in. Don’t get so caught up in yesterday’s news that you forget what today is all about. Don’t expect anyone else to support you. There’s no point in being jealous. Know only that each person works for what they have, and those people who haven’t worked for the things they’ve received will never really live to appreciate it and that’s a form of half-life. Do the things that you enjoy. Never mind what everyone else thinks of them.

In short, this goes out to all of the people who are spending their weekend relaxing and enjoying people that they love because they know on Monday morning they’ll be back to work at whatever they do, or school for whatever they’re studying, to give it everything they have.

Chappaquiddick, the Bay of Pigs and Marilyn Monroe and Joe McCarthy - all stains on their respective pasts but I think Dennis Leary said it best when he said “Good senator, but a bad date.”

The sentiment applies here, not in the same context, but with the sense that the feeling – righteousness, hard work, ethics and respect are what, regardless of their missteps, these Kennedy brothers tried to be. They may not have always succeeded, but at the end of the day those were the ideals they struggled towards as people and as politicians.

Today is a sad day and the world mourns their many losses.

"For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." - Ted Kennedy 1980 [listen]