Ted Kennedy. A man who was very human.
He made a lot of mistakes, including substance abuse, womanizing (there's an old-fashioned word), and the whole Chappaquiddick incident.
Even more remarkable than committing these errors, was his determination to do better, to rise above them. Perhaps it made him more forgiving of shortcomings in others. As he famously said,
"I recognize my own shortcomings -- the faults in the conduct of my private life. I realize that I alone am responsible for them, and I am the one who must confront them. I believe that each of us as individuals must not only struggle to make a better world, but to make ourselves better, too."
At yesterday's memorial service Vice President Joe Biden made some personal remarks about his friend of 36 years. In the early 1970's Joe's wife and daughter were killed in a car accident. Ted Kennedy hardly knew Joe Biden at that time. Nevertheless Ted called Joe to express his condolences. For months, Ted would drop by Joe's office once or twice a week to see how he was doing. Ted pulled him out of his grief, mentored him in the ways of Washington DC politics, and was as good a friend as a man could be. Sadly, we rarely heard about this side of Ted Kennedy.
But my husband Chuck saw this side. When Chuck was Director of Photography at Northeastern University in Boston, he had the opportunity to photograph Ted Kennedy. Mr. Kennedy was charismatic, warm and personable, energetic and passionate and above all, genuine. Even though Chuck was "just the photographer", Mr. Kennedy treated Chuck with dignity, respect and warmth.
Whether we personally met him or not, whether we agree with his politics or not, we are all touched by his efforts to secure equal rights for all people. Although he never became President, perhaps he had an even larger influence as a legislator respected by colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
Farewell, Ted Kennedy.