We all called him by his first name, a nickname, really, and our parents never corrected us. In Massachusetts, we had the Kennedy Seat and we had an extra one for other people who wanted to run for the Senate. Teddy was a given, like four seasons and Plymouth Rock and sales tax.
He didn’t have the panache of John or the drive of Robert. He was the younger brother always trying to live up to what the Old Man wanted. He was the brother who drove drunk, cheated on an exam. The one who married the prettiest girl and then sneaked out on her. He might wake up with a ferocious hangover, but he put on his work clothes and went to the job he’d signed on for. He was just like us. He was one of us.
We mourned his fallen brothers, but Teddy was the guy who bought the round, who came to the funerals, who took care of his own. We watched him age, just like our fathers did, just like we did. He put on weight, his hair turned white. He quit tomcatting and settled down with a good woman. Whenever one of the Kennedy clan stumbled, or fell, he was the one who stood at the front of the church and explained the unexplainable.
In the end, Senator Kennedy had done more for America than all his brothers and sisters combined. He was braver and tougher than them all, even the Old Man.
Whenever we looked, he was on the job; he had our backs and we will always love him for it.
–Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett
(This post originally appeared on an earlier blog.)