The Second Act

Apologies to those who are sick of the non-stop media frenzy over the death of Ted Kennedy, but I feel compelled to add my own two particular cents.

By the time I became aware of politics and world issues as a teenager, Ted Kennedy had become a figure of ridicule.  A political satirist’s dream.  A symbol of misspent hopes and expectations.  There was a period of time in the early 90s, during the trial of his nephew, William Kennedy Smith, where the phrase “Uncle Teddy” conjured up images of the drunken, lecherous older male relative that exists in virtually every family.  He was a man who had never quite lived up to the potential of his youth, a man who would never overcome the ghosts of the past.

I found myself weeping yesterday as I watched his funeral on television.  I wept because it was clear that this was a man who was loved dearly by all of his family and friends.  Respected by his colleagues and the people that he represented for so many years.   Clearly adored by his wife, who he met later in his life. 

How many of us will be able to say at the end of our lives that we touched so many people, so deeply?  How many of us can say that we rose above our own faults to make the world better for those less fortunate than ourselves?

The truth is, we are all capable of writing our own second acts.  Whether it comes from the redemptive power of true love, or God, or just the plain belief in the better angels of our human nature, we are all endowed with the power to choose our paths. 

There is darkness in all of us.  There are times when we disappoint ourselves and people around us.  We start to believe that our best years are behind us, that potential has been squandered, that painful experiences or poor choices in our past dictate our future.

Ted Kennedy was a man with deeply human flaws, and yet he overcame them to achieve incredible things in his professional and personal life.  He accepted his limitations, asked for forgiveness when necessary, and moved forward.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, if you’ll kindly take your seats…the second act is about to start.


The Sin and Redemption is a fine pub at the corner of McCaul and Dundas.  I knew it was a special place the night I stopped by and saw all of the clergy from St. Patrick’s having dinner…and a few pints.   Teddy would have loved it.


8 Responses to “The Second Act”

  1. August 31, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    His funeral was incredible, wasn’t it?

    We are all flawed, for sure, but Teddy’s every flaw and bad decision and erred judgment made the tabloids, took a place in the newspaper archives, and even turned into books, fictional and biographical. (Ever read “Black Water” by Joyce Carol Oates? It’s a fictionalized story of what happened at Chappaquiddick.) And yet, he still perservered and never stopped fighting for those he served. Sounds cheesy—hell, it IS a cheesy sentiment. But, I believe it.

  2. 2 shoeboxdweller
    August 31, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Yes, we can be grateful that our faults don’t make the 6 o’clock news. And sometimes it’s OK to be cheesy.

  3. 3 Parlady
    August 31, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Having seen most of the funeral it struck me that watching it as the child of a parent it would have been sad to realize that as hard as your parents may have tried they couldn’t possibly have been what Teddy was to his children. And watching as a parent it was sad to think how wonderful but impossible it would be to someday be eulogized as Teddy was.

    • 4 shoeboxdweller
      August 31, 2009 at 2:04 pm

      I’m sure he would have been the first to admit that he wasn’t the perfect parent.

      I plan on writing my own eulogy and paying someone to read it. It will be very complimentary.

  4. 5 Marie
    August 31, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    I couldn’t bring myself to watch his funeral. You are so right, we are in control over what we do with our lives, the choices we make, the lives we may touch (hopefully in a good way).

    He really was a great man and will be missed.

    • 6 shoeboxdweller
      August 31, 2009 at 4:21 pm

      I, on the other hand, somehow got sucked into watching all of the coverage. Not the worst way to spend an overcast Saturday morning, I suppose.

  5. 7 Alyxherself
    August 31, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Not to be a dick…but Mary Jo didn’t get a second half. Ted got one because of his political and family ties. I think that’s unfair on so many levels, cause if he would have been some regualar joe he would have been punished. Not to be a jerk, seriously, everyone is entiled to their own perceptions, I’m just sayin. A girl died and nothing happened. She could have been your daughter, or my sister. Just because she was a lowly secratary to a senator does not mean her life was worth less. And it breaks my heart to think that the family of that girl may still be alive, and have to see him all glorified and her death swept under the rug.

    Please don’t be mad, but no one mentions Mary Jo, so I’m going to.

    • 8 shoeboxdweller
      August 31, 2009 at 6:04 pm

      Hello, Alyx. You’re certainly entitled to your opinion, in fact, I welcome it. I’m not sure how to respond except to say that I don’t think that respect is a zero-sum game. I can respect him for overcoming his personal faults, including leaving the scene of that accident, and I can also respect the fact that MaryJo Kopechne lost her life in that accident. Others feel differently. I’m no expert on that subject, so I think I’ll just leave it at that.

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