Throughout a life of high achievement and tragedy, she has seemed indomitable. Even last week, impatiently recovering from a hernia operation, Rose Kennedy, 89, gave no sign of despair. In a forthcoming collection of his speeches, her sole surviving son pays tribute to her life and courage with a moving dedication.
Rose is the finest teacher we ever had. She made our home a university that surpassed any formal classroom in the exciting quest for knowledge. With her gentle games and questions, she could bring the farthest reaches of the university to our dinner table, or transform the daily headlines into new and stimulating adventures in understanding.
She could diagram a sentence, bisect an angle in geometry, or conjugate a Latin verb. She could spot a hole in a sock from a hundred yards away. She could catch an error in our grammar, or sense a wandering eye at the grace before our meals. She could recite The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, name the capital of any nation in the world, and bring alive the history of every place we went.
She did everything nine times. And now she’s doing everything 29 times again. For half a century in ways like these, she has been gently stretching each child and grandchild toward her goal of excellence. And always, she mixed her tonic of education and self-improvement with a dose of love so overflowing that her potion was irresistible.
She was also the quiet at the center of the storm, the anchor of the family, the safe harbor where little ones could tow their capsized boats and set their sails again, confident her hand was on the rudder.
For all of us, sons and daughters, she has been the rock and foundation of our lives, making our family standards both livable and reachable. She has shaped our dreams and goals, supported our public and private causes, encouraged us in our service to others in return for the many blessings we have had.
Her children have been doubly blessed. We have had our father’s drive and our mother’s grace, our father’s love of action and our mother’s love of history and scholarship, our father’s gift of athletics and our mother’s gift of politics.
She is a symbol of the best in us, a constant inspiration that helps us meet the challenge of the future. In so many ways, she is the fulfillment of the ancient wisdom of the poet Pindar, who wrote, “A graceful and honorable old age is the childhood of immortality.”