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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The American Liberal Lion


I was born in Massachusetts where the Kennedy family reigned in state politics and in the government as well as in our hearts.

I have a very clear memory of the the wall in my grandmother's kitchen, right over the table, where pictures of her "Holy Trinity" were hung: Jesus in the middle, Jack
Kennedy on the left and Bobby Kennedy on the right.

On the Anniversary of their birthdays and deaths, the same white votive candle was lit for them as the one for Jesus on Christmas and Easter.

They were "our" family. Our "Massachusetts Royalty."

But, they also had a daughter who was, as they said at the time, "mentally retarded," and another who was "mentally ill," but that only endeared them even more to our hearts.

Yes, they sometimes behaved like scoundrels - marital affairs, running with the fast West Coast Hollywood crowd, alcohol abuse, that car accident in Chappaquidic, and (oh, say it ain't so) divorce.

Even so, their lives embodied the Great American Dream which so many immigrant families hoped to attain. That they were not immune to human foibles only made our success seem possible.

As you no doubt know by now, Ted Kennedy has been diagnosed with a glioma - a particularly pernicious form of brain tumor. I can't tell you how desperately sad I felt at the news.

I don't know if you have seen the news clip of the moment the announcement was made on the floor of the Senate. Senator Byrd of Virgina broke down and wept. "Ted! Oh, Teddy!"

I confess, I did the same. And, she'll hate it that I'm saying this, but so did Ms. Conroy.

Maybe you'd have to be from Massachusetts to understand.

Please join your prayers with ours for Ted, The American Liberal Lion, and for his family. May God grant him strength and courage in the days and months ahead, and heal him, body, mind and spirit.

10 comments:

VTcrone said...

I think what bothered me the most tonight was hearing some of Sen. Kennedy's colleges eulogizing him-already! Judy Woodruff on PBS's The News Hour, corrected one of the presidential historians with whom she was talking about the Senator, when he spoke of TK in the past tense.
As an RN I know that the prognosis is grim but Senator Kennedy is a fighter.

Bill said...

I'm praying for him. Contrary to popular belief, I think they work.

This is hard. There are people who represent my formative years. People like Mickey Mantle and John Lennon. Let's all pray and see if we can come up with a miracle.

Jane R said...

Bless his heart. He will always be my Senator, even though I no longer live in Massachusetts. And in fact, he has worked and continues to work for all Americans. He is our Senator.

I've posted a little tribute (with photos of him very much alive, as you will see) over at my place.

Jim said...

What cancer survivors know that normies don't is that it is not about the disease or its prognosis. It is about learning that we are mortal, that we cannot let the disease defeat us, only if it does, kill us. I rather suspect that the senator will be in the truest sense, a survivor. I should not wish that on my worst enemy, if I had one. But it is a part of the journey for many of us and it is doable.

Guide his healers Lord, grant him peace.

FWIW
jimB

Organ Builder said...

Of course, he drank too much (perhaps still will). Of course, he has his issues (don't we all)? And I don't think I would let him drive me home after a party...

But when I worked for a firm in Taunton, I had a chance to vote for him in an election many people weren't sure he would win--against Mitt Romney. He was my Senator then, and I'm very proud of that vote.

Lisa Fox said...

No, Elizabeth, one doesn't "have to be from Massachusetts to understand." The news broke this liberal Southerner's heart. When he dies -- whenever he dies -- it will be the end of an era.

susankay said...

Yes, ma'am. Mine too, despite his flaws he is still larger than life. May he not be afraid.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hey, Lisa. Good to see you again. It's been too long. I'm sorry that it was this sad news that prompted a comment. My heart is still so heavy about this. How very, very sad for this family that has had more than their share of sadness.

Lisa Fox said...

My dear, when my heart is heavy, I come here for comfort.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Any glial brain malignancy has a rocky road ahead for the sufferer. I pray for Ted and his family simply because of that.

I am a little edgy that the media is not saying what KIND of glioma it is other than "malignant", because it doesn't give me a clue what kind of time frame we are talking about. With everyone speaking of him in the past tense already, I am wondering if it is not a glioblastoma multiforme, the worst kind of malignant glial brain tumor. But that is just "pathologist speculating out loud" stuff on my part.

We all talk about miracles and people being "fighters" but I think sometimes we carry on about the measure of people being "how much they fight their cancer" when sometimes I think the bravest people I know is a measure of "how they meet and eventually accept an impending death."

I realize I tend to be a bit of a fatalist about serious illness but I also remember the tension in my own family, when my grandmother got small cell lung cancer. My mom, a breast cancer survivor, was horribly upset that "Mom doesn't want to fight her cancer." I was upset with her for upsetting Granny. I remember one heated interchange where I finally blurted out, "Mom, over 90% of people with this are dead in two years. Half of them are dead in one year. Barring a miracle, it ain't gonna happen, and if a miracle DOES happen, whether she fights it or not ain't got shit to do with it!"

The family strife over whether Granny was "fighting it or not" made Granny's road harder, and it took me some while to get over how people do that number on other people when the issue becomes "fighting the cancer."