He glamoured me, a little girl quiet as she could be at the top of the stairs, waiting for the moment to creep down and peek around the corner to see him. Maybe he wasn't the best Kennedy, but he was the one at my house that night, the one we had left, come to ask my daddy to vote for him in the race to be Majority Whip in the U.S. Senate.
He couldn't have been larger in my imagination. I didn't know anything about him except that he was one of them, the uncle of the children on the Christmas card we got from Hickory Hill, the ones pictured hanging onto a funny car, the children whose daddy had been killed that summer. I watched the film clips of their family over and over again. My mother and daddy rode on the train the day of their daddy's funeral.
But in the moment of being glamoured, I did not think of all those children whose names I had memorized from the Christmas card.
Some people just shine.
As a little Washingtonian girl, I could not help hearing about Chappaquiddick, and over the years I read the stories about his life, so unseemly. The world began to revel in dirty stories about the famous. The world changed, old ways blown apart.
Fifteen years after the Senator came to my house, he was still in the Senate, while my daddy had moved on to other things. I went to a job in the Senate Library, a little hole in the wall of the Capitol, just down the hall from Senator Kennedy's hideaway office. We knew when he had someone to lunch, and every now and then you might be in the hall when his door opened.
In a world where everyone owns every connection possible, I could not speak to him. The glamour overwhelmed me.
Of course it didn't protect him from suffering. He did things, not nice things, perhaps in an attempt to ease his pain. Who wouldn't have things to forget after so much loss and
trauma? How many people survive such things unmarked?
I don't know when I stopped thinking of the Senator as a tabloid headline and started regarding him as a leader who cared about people and did good things for them. Fifteen years ago? Ten? Glamour, a charm that is nearly magical, covers sins and mistakes, and
for Senator Kennedy, it surely did. Last year he loaned his glamour to another Senator, hopeful that the country could move into a new era.
He knew a person could.