The Lion Sleeps Tonight: RIP Senator Ted Kennedy

 By Betty Dravis

I mourned along with the rest of the world when I heard of the death of U.S. Senator Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy of Massachusetts. Senator Kennedy, deservedly called the Lion of the Senate, was the last surviving brother in a political dynasty and one of the most influential senators in history. He died Tuesday night, August 25th, at his home 2.Bet.TedKen.color.clearer_2on Cape Cod after a yearlong struggle with brain cancer. He was 77.

The sad news brought back the memory of my only meeting with “Teddy,” as he asked me to call him. We were both young and vibrant in those days, and I recall how I met the handsome Senator who was in his early forties at the time. I owned a Union newspaper headquartered in San Jose, California and when Kennedy was guest of honor at a fund-raiser dinner for Congressman Norm Mineta’s second term, I was at the press table, eagerly taking notes on his speech.

When the dinner was over, some of the media left the table, but I remained seated because Mineta’s press secretary had arranged for me to meet with Kennedy. As he approached the table, I rose to greet him, and needless to say, I was delighted when a photographer snapped the photo that accompanies this article. I was even more impressed when Kennedy sat beside me and granted me an interview to enhance my newspaper story.

I recently wrote my fourth book, co-authored with Chase Von, a poet and celebrity interviewer. It’s entitled Dream Reachers and is my first nonfiction. In this book I dreamreachersdecided to share candid impressions of my meeting with Teddy Kennedy. Ironically, the book was released on May 29th, just a few months before his death.

I am pleased the book came out before he passed away; I hope he somehow got a copy and remembered the time when he went out of his way to help a young journalist. He may not have remembered me from all the people he’d met, but I have fond memories of that dinner at the Hyatt House. Thanks for the memory, Senator, but most importantly thanks for your dedication to the working people of our great country,

ALeqM5hmO8Q27-IvNLon75n0WVIeJagNXgFew living people have been as famous for as long as Senator Kennedy. For most of my life, he has been striving, partying, running, and representing the long tail of the Kennedy legacy. I’m pleased to have a small part in contributing to the legacy of this great statesman.

I wept when his brother, our beloved President John F. Kennedy, was assassinated.

I wept when his brother, Senator Robert Kennedy of New York was shot.

And today I weep again––for him… The Lion of the Senate is sleeping. RIP, Teddy.

ENDNOTE: One of the photographs accompanying this article depicts Kennedy staff members standing in the lobby of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library as the flag-draped casket of Senator Kennedy arrived in Boston, Thursday Aug. 27, 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)