I'm Irish and, of course, that means I'm supposed to hero-worship the Kennedy's as a matter of principle.
Well, I didn't. In fact, I never really was much concerned about their doings as I went about my life. I was a kid when JFK died. What I read about the senior father disgusted me, though I did like Rose. One flaw was her religiosity, so intense she could not forgive Kathleen for marrying into a British aristocratic family because they were Anglicans and would not attend her funeral after her tragic death.
I didn't intend to watch the funeral mass for Ted today. However, I did. I was riveted. Absolutely riveted. It was as if a President had died, perhaps more so.
I haven't really felt such biting sympathy for someone I didn't know since Princess Diana died.
Over the last couple of days, as I've watched the media, another picture of Teddy Kennedy began to emerge. One in which he was shown to be amazingly human and flawed, and kind, a man who wanted to do much good in his life, a man I know I'd have liked a lot if I'd ever met him.
It's true, the Kennedy's are quintessentially an American family. To borrow a cliche, they are indeed the closest a family will ever become to being American aristocracy.
And, of course, in their fiber and DNA, the Kennedy's are stolidly Irish no matter how far they've risen and American they've become. They celebrate raucously, sing the cheesy American ballads, gather together and love/hate one another. They relished their Irishness, celebrated it, never forgot it. They just wouldn't want to return to the old sod because it offered them nothing to begin with.
And there's a lot to be said about a modest family hungry with ambition, not content to rest until they achieve the farthest they can.
So, I'm sad he has passed before he had the opportunity to realize his dearest desire. I'm sure universal medical coverage will come. It's just he won;'t see it.
It's a given that the Irish like to tear down their own, sort of keep them in tehir place. I don't know why that is. Maybe other nationalities do it too.
Today I feel very proud to be Irish in America.
Rest in Peace, Senator Kennedy. You made this country a better place.
And my sincere condolences to the extended Kennedy family.