August 29, 2009
Sen Kennedy (eulogies/funeral music/speeches/videos)
Maria Shriver talks with David Gregory from Meet the Press. She calls her mother, Eunice Shriver, “Mummy”.
Makes you realize how much Tim Russert has (and is) missed.
MR. GREGORY: With us to honor his remarkable life and career in public office: his nieces Maria Shriver, the first lady of California and daughter of his sister Eunice Shriver who died just weeks ago. Friday evening, after the moving memorial service in Boston, I sat down at the Kennedy Library with his niece Maria Shriver. I began by asking her what the tremendous public outpouring for Senator Kennedy meant to her and her family.
PART 1: Outpouring of public support – folks lining the streets, Teddy would have thrilled and humbled, his heart was extraordinary, his struggles public and he reached out to people because he understood with everything he went through.
MS. MARIA SHRIVER: I think driving from Hyannis Port to Boston, it was so moving to see people standing along the freeway, gathered on bridges; entire families, many in tears, boys with their hands over their hearts saluting.
It was a great piece of American history that you were able to drive by. And this was a weekday, in the middle of the day, so people obviously had to leave work or leave their vacations, park their cars and wait to just watch a hearse go by. And I thought it was so generous of the people, and so moving.
It’s something I think Teddy would have been so thrilled by and also humbled by.
MR. GREGORY: It’s interesting, for the past several days you hear so much about the career, about the issues, about the passion. And yet at this memorial service, you heard about the man. And you understood that public service, for him, was about other people, about serving people.
MS. SHRIVER: Well, Teddy was, I think, known to the people who knew him, and his heart was extraordinary. He was the most compassionate, empathetic man. And I think he was that way because he himself was wounded and he himself knew pain, he himself knew struggle, he knew abandonment. He knew all of the things that pain a human being.
And so when he saw other human beings in pain, or where their character was questioned or where they had loss, he was always the first person to reach out.
And nobody does that who hasn’t felt that way themselves.
And I think that that was something that people often overlooked about him, didn’t understand about him. But this was a man, you know, who had fought a lot, who had struggled a lot, who had been through a lot, and he understood when other people also went through a lot.
And I think you have that outpouring because people–regular people understood that about him. They saw through all of the labels, they saw through what people wrote, they saw that this was a man who understood family, who understood struggle, who understood triumph and who understood, you know, weaknesses. And we all have that.
And rarely do you see it, I think, so openly in a public person as you saw it with Teddy.
MR. GREGORY: What has it been like? You know, Americans watch all of this coverage, and they’re watching the family and wondering how everybody is. As the president said, this wasn’t unexpected, but it was dreaded. How’s everybody been doing?
MS. SHRIVER: I think people, you know, people often say, “Well, it wasn’t a surprise.” Well, I think death is always a surprise. And I’ve just gone through two in two weeks. And it’s always a surprise and it’s always final and it’s always difficult, and I think people grieve in their own way and in their own time.
So I think Teddy was one of those larger-than-life figures in our family, he was really the center of our family, and he was one of those people that you never expected to die. You just expected him to beat the odds, you expected him to defy everybody’s expectations. And I think anybody who’s been through cancer knows how up and down it is, so you hear one day it’s bad, one day it’s good and you, I think, always hope that this person is going to beat the odds.
PART 2: Losing her mother and Teddy so close together, how they lived extraordinary lives filled with purpose, they had great ideas they fought for decades to accomplish, best part of both of them – the duration of their fight – gives folks hope.
MR. GREGORY: He’s been called the rock of the family, and yet you just referred to your mother, who you lost just in the past few week. Another rock of the family. It’s a lot of loss for this family in a short time.
MS. SHRIVER: It’s a, it’s a lot of loss. It’s a lot of pain. And–but both of them lived extraordinary lives and they lived lives that had purpose, that had meaning, that had a mission.
I remember my mother once said, “If you don’t have an idea, what do you have? Where’s your idea?”
She would always say to me, “What are you doing? What–where’s your idea?” And I think both of these people had great ideas, and they fought their whole lives to make them reality.
And I think one of the things that I think is so great about Mummy and Teddy is that–the duration of their fight. I think we live in a society today that’s all about instant success, instant gratification; you know, you fight for something and you expect to get it in a week. And both Mummy and Teddy fought their entire lives, their entire lives, 40 years–50 years, in Mummy’s case, to give people with intellectual disabilities the same rights as everybody else. It took her lifetime to achieve that.
Teddy fought his entire life for health care and all of the legislation you heard talked about. And if he’d given up in a year or five years or 10 years, when many people wrote him off, none of the things that he accomplished would have been accomplished.
I think both of them are incredible testaments to how long it takes, how hard one has to work to accomplish something. And I think we’ve lost sight of that in this country in all professions, whether it be journalism or politics. People expect you to get elected president and solve all the problems immediately. And I think if they look at people like Teddy or like Mummy, they see how long they had to stay in there and keep hammering away and hammering away.
And I think that that gives us hope, when people get disillusioned that they didn’t get something done right away, if you look at people like that and say, “Wow, they accomplished a lot, but it took a long time.“
PART 3: HEALTHCARE
MR. GREGORY: You, you talk about health care. I mean, as he got toward the end, as he watched what was happening in Washington, it’s still an unresolved story. Did he feel like he was really on the verge of, of seeing this dream realized?
MS. SHRIVER: Yes. I think he, he thought, with the election of Barack Obama, this country was on the verge of seeing so many of his dreams realized. And I think, I think that will be realized. I think a lot has been written about how much his voice has been missed, and I think it has.
But I think perhaps his passing will reinvigorate people to get it done. And he gave his life to that.
But he gave his life to so many things, so he saw so much of what he fought for accomplished.
PART 4: Crying during the Convention, a good ending, the last year was beautiful, his work was appreciated, knew his life had been of value, he accepted the love, he got to experience what his brothers didn’t, people rarely know how others feel about them, never seen such an extraordinary brother and uncle, how grateful she was for his taking care of her mother, Teddy understood how precious time is.
MR. GREGORY: There’s this image from the convention last year of you wiping tears away as, as your uncle spoke so movingly about what he cared about, health care, other issues and forcefully as an advocate for, for Barack Obama. And it was kind of a goodbye and a long goodbye, but he had that next year. What was that final year like for him?
MS. SHRIVER: Well, I think it was–for me, watching this final year was beautiful because I think, you know, there have been a lot of things written about Teddy over the years, and it hasn’t all been complimentary. And I think for someone to have that kind of love come at you is a very powerful thing that very few people I think ever experience in their lifetime. And I think it was a blessing for Teddy that he was able to see that his work was appreciated, that his life had been valued, that people understood why he had stayed in the fight.
And he accepted the love. It’s so hard to accept, I think, love, and he let it come at him. And I think that that was so beautiful that he got to live and see how people appreciated him, and that people came up to him and thanked him and he could feel that kind of gratitude and…
MR. GREGORY: He, he got to experience something his brothers didn’t…
MS. SHRIVER: Absolutely.
MR. GREGORY: …which is to experience how people felt about him.
MS. SHRIVER: And I think very few people–I think that’s another lesson in all of this. I’m a big believer that people rarely know how people feel about them in their life. We run around in our lives all the time and we forget to stop and tell people how important they are and how loved they are and how grateful we are. And I think Teddy got to see that.
And right after my mom died and he wasn’t able to come to the funeral, I went over to see him two weeks ago. And I, I just said to him, “I want to thank you for being the most extraordinary brother to my mother.” Every health incident, he was there for my brothers and myself. He was in every emergency room with me all across this country, every ICU room he came in, he cheered her up. And I said, “I’ve never seen such an extraordinary brother,” and I said, “I‘ve never seen such an extraordinary uncle. And I want to thank you for everything you’ve done for me, everything you did for my mother and my family, and I love you.”
I’m so grateful that I had that moment. I learned that from him and from people leaving too soon, that there’s never a moment like the moment.
Teddy understood that, how precious time is.
PART 5: Teddy walking Caroline down the aisle, what Jackie thought, his life wasn’t perfect but he inspired them, he was a patriot, wanted them to have fun bit also understand the importance of being Irish and of public service, always encouraging, wanted them to feel his presence in their lives, he accepted his life - one of purpose, passion and meaning, had a lot to live up to, how folks show up for people who try to make the world a better place – not because they are rich or famous.
MR. GREGORY: There’s wonderful pictures that we’ve seen of him escorting Caroline down the aisle, and after the wedding Jackie wrote him this note that included,
“On you, the carefree youngest brother, fell a burden a hero would beg to be spared. Sick parents, lost children, desolate wives. You are a hero. Everyone is going to make it, because you are always there with your love.”
MS. SHRIVER: And everybody did make it. And we’ve all made it and we’ve all been inspired by his love, I think his example, his inspiration. I think if you really step back by his whole life, it wasn’t perfect but it was his life.
He was a great patriot, he was a great advocate of public service, he was a great family rock for many families. He was sure that we would all feel–he was really adamant that we would all feel his presence in our lives, and we did.
I think that is a life well lived. It’s a life of way beyond–there was a best-selling book about a life of purpose. He lived one, a life of purpose, passion and meaning.
MR. GREGORY: He was able to take stock of his life in this, in this final year in the way that he wanted to do it. What do you think that was like for him?
MS. SHRIVER: I think you never know. I think he comes, and my mother, they come [present tense] from generations that didn’t talk much about feelings and–but I think he, he was an introspective man, and he–I think he looked at his life and I think he accepted his life as his own, he accepted his triumphs and his weaknesses.
I think that that’s a great sign of strength in any human being, that they can accept their whole life, the journey of their whole life. He livedlived a life his parents would’ve been proud of. I think he worked really hard to make his parents, particularly his mother, proud of him. He worked very hard to make his sisters proud of him. his own life. And he, he
This was a man who really took the concept of family to a whole other level.
And my children had relationships with him. I don’t know any other great uncle who operates like that. In my lifetime, never seen that.
MR. GREGORY: You told one of his biographers that it was so important for them to know him, because it, it was about the family, it was about the history, it was about what it meant to be Irish.
MS. SHRIVER: Oh, you know, he really wanted all of us know about our Irish heritage. He wanted all of us to know about our public service heritage. But he also wanted us to have fun. And he never beat down on you when you made a mistake. He was always encouraging.
And I think, once again, that’s because of the life he lived. You know, I think he was the youngest of nine kids, he had formidable figures to live up to and he understood how that weighs on a human being. I think that’s what brought out his empathy and his compassion.
I think, you know, if you go through this city, I met a woman up there tonight who said that her child had been murdered and lost, and Teddy reached out to her and helped her with legislation and changed her life and gave her purpose. And she–wearing a button of her daughter.
I meet people, you know, every day that come up to me about Teddy, Mummy, Bobby, Jack, my dad. These are all people–I said to my kids, “Do you notice that people turn out not for people who had their goal for making money or who were in search of fame, but people turn out for people who want to make the world a better place.”
They never went out to make money. They never went out to get on a reality show and become famous or get on TV. They went out to change the world, and people get that.
I thought I heard her say this but I can’t find the video.
End of an era?
MR. GREGORY: There’s so many Americans who have no connection to your family…
MS. SHRIVER: Mm-hmm.
MR. GREGORY: …and yet they feel something visceral and, with the loss of your mother…
MS. SHRIVER: Mm-hmm.
MR. GREGORY: …and now the loss of Teddy Kennedy, that it really is the end of such a distinct era…
MS. SHRIVER: Mm-hmm.
MR. GREGORY: …for the Kennedys.
MS. SHRIVER: Well, I think Vice President, Vice President Biden addressed that by saying, you know, “I don’t think this is the end of the Kennedys.” But I think that that will be written, that it’s the end of an era.
MR. GREGORY: Mm-hmm.
MS. SHRIVER: That the Kennedys are finished. And I think, really, the goal for each human being, whether your name is Kennedy, Shriver, Lawford, Smith, Gregory or whatever, is to live your life, the life that you choose, that’s in your heart, that’s about something bigger than yourself. And so we’ll see.
MR. GREGORY: And there’s still a living legacy for the younger generation.
MS. SHRIVER: And that’s a value. That’s a value. You know, ever since I grew up, ever since I was like four or five, it’s like, which one are you? What are you going to do? Are you going to run for president? What are you going to–you know, people should be–you know, Teddy lived his life. Mummy lived her life. Uncle Jack and Uncle Bobby and Honey Fitz and this whole library, it’s about people who lived their lives and changed the world. So I think everybody should have that right.