The most moving part of the services for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy for me was when his son, Ted Kennedy, Jr., spoke. With so much mythology swirling around about the Kennedy family and their legacy, it's easy to forget that at his core, Kennedy was a family man, who in addition to his public service, had to serve as the head of a rather extraordinary family:
There is also much to say and much will be said about my father the man. The storyteller, the lover of costume parties, a practical joker, the accomplished painter. He was a lover of everything French: cheese, wine, and women. He was a mountain climber, navigator, skipper, tactician, airplane pilot, rodeo rider, ski jumper, dog lover, and all around adventurer. Our family vacations left us all injured and exhausted.
He was a dinner table debater and devil's advocate. He was an Irishman and a proud member of the Democratic Party.
Here's one you may not know: Out of Harvard he was a Green Bay Packers recruit but decided to go to law school instead.
He was a devout Catholic whose faith helped him survive unbearable losses and whose teachings taught him that he had a moral obligation to help others in need.
He was not perfect, far from it. But my father believed in redemption and he never surrendered. Never stopped trying to right wrongs, be they the results of his own failings or of ours.
But today I'm simply compelled to remember Ted Kennedy as my father and my best friend. When I was 12 years old I was diagnosed with bone cancer and a few months after I lost my leg, there was a heavy snowfall over my childhood home outside of Washington D.C. My father went to the garage to get the old Flexible Flyer and asked me if I wanted to go sledding down the steep driveway. And I was trying to get used to my new artificial leg and the hill was covered with ice and snow and it wasn't easy for me to walk. And the hill was very slick and as I struggled to walk, I slipped and I fell on the ice and I started to cry and I said "I can't do this." I said, "I'll never be able to climb that hill." And he lifted me in his strong, gentle arms and said something I'll never forget. He said "I know you'll do it, there is nothing you can't do. We're going to climb that hill together, even if it takes us all day."
Sure enough, he held me around my waist and we slowly made it to the top, and, you know, at age 12 losing a leg pretty much seems like the end of the world, but as I climbed onto his back and we flew down the hill that day I knew he was right. I knew I was going to be OK. You see, my father taught me that even our most profound losses are survivable and it is what we do with that loss, our ability to transform it into a positive event, that is one of my father's greatest lessons. He taught me that nothing is impossible.
About Nicole Belle
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