Unfortunately I've been too busy trying to get this project that ate my life out the door in two weeks to watch the nonstop coverage of the Kennedy funeral. In a way it's been a relief to have an excuse not to, what with all the blathering by people like Peggy Noonan about how Ted Kennedy would have given up the public option because he was about bipartisanship (funny how conservatives have already appropriated Kennedy's corpse, as if to hijack it from Arlington). But I did want to watch the eulogies, and while the same blatherers were once again making noises about how this had to be the best speech of Barack Obama's career, the President fell a bit flat (not surprisingly, given his annoying tendency to internalize even the dumbest messages from right-leaning television talking heads). Instead, the eulogy that reduced me to a sobbing heap on the sofa, with those hiccuppy sobs that one ordinarily doesn't have simply by crying at funerals unless one is very close to the departed, was that of Ted Kennedy, Jr.
At first I almost thought it was James Spader giving the eulogy, so much did Ted Jr. resemble the randy lawyer from Boston Legal
. After he started speaking with a vocal quality similar to the freshman Senator from the state of Minnesota, he even started to LOOK like Al Franken in a blond wig. But I've rarely heard a eulogy like this that so perfectly brought us into just what it was about this man that made people love him so, despite his flaws:
Poor Patrick. The one Kennedy who is an active legislator, a grief etched across his face (4:50 into the first video) that seems deeper and more profound than the normal grief and loss that comes with the loss of a parent, especially when that parent is such a larger-than-life figure; the one with the Kennedy substance abuse problems. -- it was he who had to follow his more glamorous and more articulate older brother in saying goodbye to their father. I would say this to Patrick J. Kennedy: Look at your father's life. Look at the ghastly mistakes he too made in his life. And look at how he turned it all around. You too can do this. You too can become a great statesman. Every family has a "lesser" -- a child that isn't as pretty as the others, isn't as smart or musical or charismatic as the others. It's up to us to transcend all that and find their own way. There would be no better tribute you could pay to your father than to find yours.
Labels: families, Ted Kennedy