I feel as though I've written a lot lately about the dead. It's creepy. But it's part of life, and life goes on. And so will I...
As many of you who follow this blog probably know by now, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) passed away late last night. He'd been dealing with inoperable brain cancer for more than a year, and he finally succumbed to it.
While his death is a loss to his family, I go back and forth about much that he did during his career in the Senate. For much of my adult life I've gone hot and cold about him; there have been times that I've been incredibly impressed with and pleased by his involvement with certain causes. And there have also been moments that I've cursed him for positions that he had taken over issues that I had opinions about, none of which I can remember right now.
I look at what I know about him and I again have that back and forth thing going on again...
First, he and my mother are the same age - my mom will be 78 in December. While he was a student at Harvard he'd been involved in a cheating scandal. Eventually he was re-admitted and graduated in 1955. He was there to take care of the families of both of his brothers after they each were assassinated. Yet he turned tail and ran when his car went off of the Chapaquiddick bridge, leaving his passenger to drown.
I believe that stayed with him right up to his death. How couldn't it?
He was stuck in a maelstrom that stayed with him for years up until he married for the second time. Then, at least to me, things seemed to settle down for him. There appeared to be not so much in the way of bad press directed at him after that.
When all was said and done, he served for 47 years as a member of the United States Senate. That is the third longest time of service in the Senate in U.S. History.
With all of the negatives that seemed to surround him, he did some good things for people. One incident that I am aware of happened in the late 1970's involving a Russian family with a child diagnosed with malabsorption syndrome. He intervened on their behalf with the then-Soviet regime to get them out of the Soviet Union so this little girl could get the medical treatment necessary to keep her from dying.
That "little girl" is now 31 years old and working with the homeless in New York. She credits her involvement in this cause to Senator Kennedy. In fact, she is certain that if it weren't for his influence she would likely have died.
His doing this (as well as other things that I've read or been told about) says - at least to me - that no matter how much a person may disagree with the way they led their life or their politics (he was way too liberal for me on most issues), he ulltimately had a good heart. I think this was especially true as he got older; it was is though he was on a mission to get as much done as possible. Perhaps he knew at some level before he got sick that he was on borrowed time.
I have written about him in the past, especially about this. And while I didn't agree with many of his political positions, it is clear to me that he was an incredibly complex individual. A human paradox. And ultimately, I think that maybe he got more right than wrong.
May you rest in peace, Senator.