Senator Edward Kennedy’s son, Ted Kennedy Jr., served up one of the most emotional moments of his father’s funeral on Saturday when he recalled how the late senator stood by him while he struggled after losing his leg to cancer.
Calling his father “my best friend,” Ted Kennedy Jr told of a winter day – a few months after his leg was amputated — when his father urged him to go sledding on their 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 up that hill.
“And he lifted me up in his strong, gentle arms and said something I will never forget. He said, ‘I know you can do it. There is nothing that 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 your leg pretty much seems like the end of the world. But as I climbed on to 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 that is — 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.”
Kennedy’s voice broke as he told the story, and paused to wipe his eyes.
He went on to tell other anecdotes: his father was a Green Bay Packers recruit but he opted to go to law school instead; the elder Kennedy was a Civil War buff and he used to pack the family up into a car or rented camper to visit the great battlefields; and family vacations “left us all injured and exhausted.”