Thursday, August 27, 2009
As I was flipping through the channels, I saw the motorcade carrying Ted Kennedy's body. The newscaster repeated that tired chestnut heard at every Kennedy funeral: This family has suffered so many tragedies.
I saw through this hyperbole at 14, when I heard it uttered over forty years ago.
It is a long list, but then it is a large family.
Oldest son of Joe and Rose Kennedy killed in WWII.
Retarded daughter that Joe Sr. had lobotomized.
John Kennedy Shot.
Robert Kennedy shot.
Ted Kennedy gets caught cheating at Harvard.
Ted Kennedy drives off a bridge and kills a young woman, leaves the scene, killing his chances to be president.
Various Kennedy's are accused of murder, rape, and drug usage.
John Jr. augers his plane into the Atlantic killing himself, his wife, and sister-in-law.
Hell's bells! My own family is not as large as the Kennedy clan and we never had the money to hush up our legal troubles.
My Dad's cousin is shot delivering mail.
Paternal grandfather molested two of his daughters.
My Dad's youngest sister and husband and their son, visiting for a family reunion, die in an auto accident while driving home. Their young daughter survives and is adopted by another aunt. She later dies of cancer in her early forties.
My dad was in a car accident at age 30 that shattered his ankles. Doctors said he would never walk again and wanted to amputate below his knees. By sheer will alone, he proved them wrong and was walking within 6 months. He lives in constant pain, but never complains.
My Dad ruins his marriage with Kennedy style philandering and drinking.
My paternal uncle survives 22 years in the Navy, 3 tours of Vietnam, and retires only to get pushed off a dock. He breaks his neck. He spends the next 17 years as a quadriplegic.
My first wife has a brain aneurysm, has surgery, but exists in a coma before she dies 4 months later.
My nephew is severely beaten up and suffers terrible mood swings.
A motorcycle accident kills my 12 year old daughter, scrambles my brain (bleeding in the front and base), breaks my right leg, damages both knees, breaks ribs.
And now my father has stomach cancer that has spread to his bones and lungs. He will be dead in a few weeks.
I must temporarily put my marriage preparations on hold to fly back to say good-bye to him.
My family and I don't deserve extra sympathy because we can match or exceed Kennedy tragedies and self-caused troubles, just like most families can. Neither does the Kennedy clan deserve adulation for their tribulations. (I'll set aside the scorn they deserve for some of the things they've done.)
It's called LIFE. You are born and later you die. In between those two events many good and bad thing happen, to my family, to your family, to the Kennedy family, TO EVERY FAMILY.
So, if you don't see me around, you'll know what I am up to. I am grateful that I get one last chance to tell him that I love him. That is more important that going back to scatter his ashes.