Mareena Purslowe & Associates has compiled a selection of ten example eulogies, which we hope may serve as inspiration should you find yourself in the position to need to deliver a eulogy at a funeral service.
By clicking on the link you will see the eulogy in it's full length.
- Son Celebrates His Mum
- Traditional Eulogy For Dad
- A Mother For A Young Daughter
- Tribute From Husband To Wife
- A Father Farewells A Teenage Son
- A Wife To Her Husband
- A Daughter Says Farewell To Her Mum
- A Daughter Celebrates Her Father
- US President Barack Obama For Senator Edward Kennedy
- Charles Spencer For Princess Diana
She was a vibrant soul, one who literally lit up the room whenever she entered. And right up until she became less able to get around, Mum was full of joy and always eager to help out, no matter what the problem was.
Being a mother of four boisterous boys – me Nick, Al and Johnny, Mum had a hard time juggling the demands of us all, but she never complained at her unenviable task, nor did she ever turn anyone away – be it family, friends or local faces, wanting to stop by the house for a quick chat.
Mum had an inherent love of music – in particular, the music of Elvis Presley – and she’d always find time to put one of the King’s hits on the stereo whenever she could. Much to Dad’s never-ending frustration, I might add!
Her favourite tune was “Blue Hawaii” – a song that became synonymous with the King’s movies, and one which she first heard when she was flying, as an air hostess, in the early 1960s. In fact, it was while flying via India that she bumped into her future husband, who was cooling in an airport departure lounge, waiting to return home from army service.
Mum would always talk about those days as if they only happened yesterday, when the pair of them would take off in Dad’s car for some wild adventure, without the burden of four boys fighting on the back seat!
They shared a love of travel, and would often explore different parts of the country, investigating little country towns and farms off the beaten track. City slickers, they were not. And they were proud of the fact, too.
After I moved out of home, I’d often make time to go visit them both. The five-hour drive meant nothing, of course – particularly after Dad passed away, and Mum was on her own. She thrived, though, in her own way – always keeping busy, never feeling sorry for herself, and always excited to see her boys, her nieces Susan and Jenny and nephews Josh, Mel and Chris, as well as friends from the town. Mum was a popular lady and despite enjoying time alone, would welcome company as if it a natural extension of her new, quieter life.
Mum was raised in a small town in NSW, called Charlottes Pass. She had one younger brother Harold, who grew up without his older sister, she had moved out of home at a young age to explore the world and create her own stamp on life. She was never an outstanding student at school, but she maintained long-term friendships and interests from her school days, and always emphasised the importance of a good education to us all (and for our own children!).
After Mum and Dad moved to Adelaide, Mum continued her passion of art, painting to her heart’s content while Elvis merrily played on the record player (Mum never did accept the changing of technology – you’d never see a CD anywhere in her house!). And though it irked Dad to have so much noise after he retired from his office job, he’d simply tend the garden, leaving Mum to enjoy her hobbies uninterrupted.
The last vacation they took together was to visit me two years ago in Sydney, a place I’d made my new home some 20 years back. Although they were both struggling with ill health by then, they put on a brave face and enjoyed two weeks of uninterrupted sunshine and warm weather. Coming from the snow country, Mum, in particular, couldn’t stop raving about how stunning the climate was – and how beautiful the harbour was in Sydney.
My lasting memories of Mum are simple: a hard-working, passionate figure of strength who never waned in her support or love of her family, and who soldiered on, even when times were tough.
It is a great privilege to write this eulogy to express the sadness that all of us boys share over her loss. Mum, thank you for everything you’ve given us – and the warmth we shared during your precious time on earth. God bless you. Always.
Duty, decency, reliability, honour, dignity, respect: these are all qualities that my father not only held in high esteem, but practiced every day during his time on this earth. He was a serious and disciplined man, but he could never resist the opportunity to have a laugh with friends and loved ones, given half the chance.
He saw a lot during his lifetime: a world ravaged by war, (he was himself served in the armed forces in Vietnam), and an uncertain world with the Cold War, the Oil Crisis, and Iraq all understandably influencing his views on the post-war world in which he himself grew up and, later, raised his own family. Let alone the social and cultural revolution exploding around him with the onset of the 1960s.
Dad was an only child, who lived in and around Sydney up until his retirement from the motor industry, where he moved with Mum to the Central Coast. They married young – at age 20 – and remained happily together for over half a century. When free of their parental responsibilities, Dad would whisk Mum off for some mad adventure, often without her knowing where they were going.
As a father of three though, he was often happiest when left to his own devices – whether it was building a shed, tending to the garden, or fixing one of his cars. He was a self-professed petrol head, and loved nothing more than jumping in the car and driving – sometimes for hours – for some much-needed relief and relaxation from a family of five. More often than not, he wouldn’t be gone for that long, but admitted that he loved driving so much, he looked for any excuse to have a spin. His precious Austin Healey was his most prized possession – a car that he drove till the day he died.
When Susan, Claire and myself moved out of home and started families of our own, I began to understand my father in new way. We were able to find time to sit and discuss what it means to be a parent, particularly in a modern world that’s fast-changing and very different to the one in which either of us were born. Dad gave sage advice on everything from teaching my kids manners and responsibility, to the other important area of family life: keeping one’s partner happy and the marriage healthy and alive.
Dad was a straightforward man who demanded little from those around him, and who expected only the best for his three children. Provided he heard regularly from us all – and saw us whenever possible – he was content. And although in his final years, we’d all moved on to different parts of the world, that bond was never broken.
To me, Dad’s finest quality was his patience: an inherent ability to listen, to absorb and to offer a point of view based on quiet, measured wisdom. I’ll never forget the time when I asked him what I should do about having to move overseas for my career: “Do what you feel, what you believe is right. Follow your gut, your heart, and you can’t go wrong.”
It’s difficult to imagine him not being around and I’m not sure how we will all cope. The grandchildren, Billy and Leo will miss him dearly. It’s strange to think that I can’t just give him a call or pop around to have one of our good old yarns. Dad lived a long and happy life, and only succumbed to ill health right at the very end. He was an imposing figure of a man, a tall, dark, handsome character whose reassuring presence we all felt during difficult times.
As we gather here today to remember and commemorate his life, let bid him farewell as we mourn the loss of a lively, dignified soul. A soul that brought joy and fulfilment to many, and whose legacy will live on forever.
My darling little girl Louise! I cannot believe that she has been taken away from us after only six years on this earth. It is much too short a time, but they have been the most precious.
When you were born, you were so tiny – I couldn’t believe my eyes. You had a shock of black hair and a cheeky face. You quickly gained weight, though, and after a couple of days in the hospital I was allowed to take you home. We had been told that you had a congenital heart condition, but we were positive that you would still live a long and happy life. We always focused on our time together and treasured every moment.
From the time she was a little girl, Louise brought joy and laughter into our lives and the lives of others. When she was little, I called her my ‘cheeky monkey’. As soon as our backs were turned, she was up to something. But you couldn’t get angry with her for too long as she would always give you one of those cheeky grins and say, “Oh Mummy, I’m sorry”.
Louise grew into a charming little girl who was outgoing and affectionate. She absolutely adored school and made lots of friends. She loved her teachers and would race home from school every afternoon with stories about what Mrs McNamara or Mr Jones had taught her in class.
One of Louise’s greatest pleasures was dancing. The moment she heard music she would be up, clapping her hands with glee. I remember taking her to the mall one day to do some shopping. I turned around and she was gone. Naturally, I was panic stricken and raced around everywhere looking for her. I found her a few minutes later in the music section of the store, performing a dance routine she had learnt at school - much to the amusement of the staff.
We enrolled her in dance school and she flourished. I will never forget the look on her face after her first dance class – a look of enthusiasm and pure excitement that only a child can give. I was so excited for her.
When Louise was five, she had to undergo surgery. It seemed successful and after months of rest, Louise appeared to be on the road to recovery. She found it hard staying at home and desperately wanted to go back to school and dancing. When she was feeling well enough, we brought home school work for her to do, which she devoured with such enthusiasm.
Louise’s last year on this earth was difficult. It is such a terrible thing to see your child struggle with illness and not be able to do anything to make her well and whole again.
It is with so much sadness that I am here today to farewell our only child, Louise. She was a lovely and vibrant daughter who has been taken away from us much too early. But the memory of Louise will live on in us forever. We were so proud of her and know that she is in peace.
Goodbye, my precious girl – I know you are up in heaven now, waving down to us with cheeky grin on your beautiful face.
Susan was a remarkable woman who always held her head high and gave endlessly to those around her.
Born in Cowra NSW in 1949, Susan’s father George was an army officer, and her mother Marie, a nurse.
Susan had an interesting upbringing – born into a family with a long history of military service. Much of her early childhood was spent moving around with her family from one posting to another, and she saw much of Australia as a young girl.
It was only by chance that first I met Susan a couple of weeks before they were due to be posted to Canberra. The moment I set eyes on her, I knew she was the one for me. She was the loveliest woman I had ever seen and reminded me of Greta Garbo from one of the old movies – her poise, her grace and her beauty.
Our courtship was difficult as we had to overcome distance, but I was determined to make her my wife. Susan and I came from different backgrounds: I was brought up in the city and had never ventured out into the country, while Susan had grown up with a military background, and had travelled to many places by the time she was 18. But that didn’t worry us – we complimented each other perfectly and got on like a house of fire.
After getting permission from her father, I proposed, she said yes (eventually) – and I was the happiest man alive. I remember how beautiful she looked walking down the isle at our Catholic church. Her big brown eyes and her cheeks flushed with excitement, her father beside her looking as proud as punch.
It was only later that I found Susan shared my love of the old black and whites and when we were first married, spent many evenings watching and reciting lines from movies such as Casablanca and Camille, much to my delight.
Susan followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a nurse. It was a calling that she said she always had as a little girl, influenced by both her mother’s vocation, and her father’s and grandfather’s stories of war time and the Great Depression. Her want to help and care for others was the very essence of the Susan I knew.
When we had Jenny, Susan was thrilled – we felt blessed. She had longed to have a child of her own, but it had taken longer that we had hoped. Jenny was the apple of her eye, and the two formed a strong bond. Susan was tough but fair and when Susan got older, the two of them formed a special friendship that never faltered over the years. In her last years, her pride was her four-year-old grandson, Roger.
When Susan fell ill, we were all devastated. She was always fit and strong, and on the ball. She had so much to live for and so much love to give. She never liked any fuss being made of her, and would chastise us if we ¬ as she would like to say – “flapped” around her too much. She was so used to caring for others that she couldn’t be doing with any fuss for her.
Susan, my beautiful, sweet, darling wife, may you be at peace, and god bless you.
Standing before you today to farewell our son William is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Words cannot describe the sorrow and loss that I am feeling, but I will try.
William was a wonderful, sweet boy. Even as a baby, he had a calm temperament and as he grew into a little boy, always took things in his stride. I remember his first day at school – I think I was more nervous than he was. I held his little hand and walked to the gate thinking that he was about to cry, but William calmly turned to me and said, “This is going to be fun, Daddy... Will there be lots of kids here for me to play with?” I laughed and assured him there would be.
Being the youngest of three, William was always special to his sisters, Michelle and Andrea. They would dress him up and take him out for walks in the pram – they were just so excited to have a little brother and when he started school, they became fiercely protective of him.
As William grew from a boy into a teenager, I could see the man that he would become - strong, steadfast and assured. He loved school and loved his sports. Every afternoon after school, he would race down to the oval to kick the ball around with his mates. When he became captain of the soccer team, we were so proud. He was always competitive, but humble. It was such an endearing quality.
William and I had some wonderful times together. After the girls had left home to go to university, the two of us would go camping together at the weekends. William loved camping – he loved the adventure and simplicity of it. After a day of fishing and swimming, we would set up camp and spend hours talking about life. It was those conversations that I will never forget. I was watching a teenager grow into a young man - a young man with so much enthusiasm and with so many plans for the future.
Recently, all he talked about was the overseas trip he had planned with his mates after they finished their HSCs. He couldn’t wait to go over to Asia to have what he called “his amazing Asian adventure”. But he also looked forward to studying to become a teacher – a vocation that was a perfect choice for William as he was a gentle soul, unwavering in his patience, and with a real desire to help others.
William was adored by his friends and family and it is testament to him how many of you are here today to farewell our boy. Not only was he a loving son and brother, he was a kind and giving friend. Someone who was always a pleasure to be around.
To have lost William is heartbreaking – it has come as such a shock to us all. His life was far too brief.
My family wishes to express our heartfelt thanks to all those who have given their support, compassion and love throughout this very difficult time. I know in my heart that he would not want us to grieving for too long. Rather, William would want us all to remember the good times we all shared with him.
Goodbye, my son. You will live in our hearts forever.
My husband was such a wonderful man. I’m not sure I can really express just how much I will miss him.
Not only was he a wonderful husband, but a wonderful father, grandfather, best friend, colleague ...and so much more.
Paul’s ability to make everyone feel comfortable, secure and loved were his greatest strengths.
It has been nearly 40 years since we were first married and I look back over those years with so much happiness.
I remember the first time I saw him - I looked over the room at the dance hall on a Saturday night and saw this handsome young man. I was too shy initially to even hold his eye contact, but I did look out for him every Saturday night. Eventually he introduced himself to me; we danced, we laughed and we fell in love.
Paul was always such a gentleman – well mannered and polite, but always quick with a witty remark. His joviality and good nature attracted people the moment he walked in the room, and no one could forget his raucous and contagious laugh.
Born and bred in Brisbane, Paul always had a passion for the ocean. In our early life together, we would jump in the caravan and spend weekends on the coast together. I remember the first fish he caught. Paul had been out all day after promising that he would bring home dinner that night. It was getting late and I started to worry, but the look on his face when he marched back and presented the catch of the day was priceless. His face was glowing and he was grinning from ear to ear, despite the fact that it was dark and he was shivering with cold.
When we had each of our children ¬ Jesse, Markus and James – he was delighted. Paul was a wonderful father to them and I would watch him take them to Sunday school and show them off to all the other parents. As they became teenagers, I saw how they always went to him for advice – even if they did run off and do the opposite, as teenagers do. He was always there to pick up the pieces and sort things out. They respected and loved him deeply.
Paul was a hardworking and giving man. Not only was he committed to his job – working long hours that would drive me insane – he was also committed to giving back to the community. When Paul wasn’t at work – or being taxi driver for the kids – he would be attending Lions Club or Rotary meetings or fundraising activities. He always encouraged us be involved in life – he bought out the best in us all. He would always say, ‘You can’t rest on your laurels, Margaret. You must keep forging ahead and make the best of everything”.
He was my soul mate and my inspiration – my steadfast rock that helped me through thick and thin. Paul supported and loved us all, and was always there to help navigate through life’s challenges.
Paul may be in heaven now, but I know he is looking down at us with a big smile on his face saying, “Forge ahead – make the best of life – and I’ll see you soon. We have work to do up here, too.”
Goodbye, my dear, sweet husband, and god bless.
My mother, Helen, was a warm, compassionate and vibrant woman who always went out of her way to help others – no matter what. She was a proud and dignified woman who had a passion for life. She had a wonderful sense of humour which endeared her to everyone she came in contact with and it is a great testament to her nature that she formed so many long lasting friendships over the years. So many of you here today.
Mum was born in 1939 at a time when Robert Menzies was Prime Minister, songs like Over the Rainbow by Judy Garland were being played over the wireless, and WWII had just been declared.
She grew up in a small house in Sans Souci with her mother, Mary – having lost her father in the war when she was only an infant. It was a difficult time, but they were both strong individuals and managed wonderfully.
Mum was brought up with traditional values and learnt the skills that a woman of her era should – cooking, sewing, knitting and embroidery, as well as a love of history. She became a secondary school teacher and was a favourite at the school she taught – particularly a favourite with my father as this was where they first met.
Our mother taught us many things as young kids that hold us in good stead today– good manners, respect and sound moral values. These values have made me who I am and I thank her so very, very much.
Our family grew up with little money, but we were always well fed and well dressed. My mother spent hours in her sewing room making beautiful outfits for us to wear, or knitting jumpers in preparation for winter.
I will always remember our Christmases together – going to the church, all the chaos in the kitchen as Mum prepared for Christmas dinner, and the wonderful feeling of us all being together. Mum also carried on Grandma’s tradition of putting ‘threepence’ in the pudding. It was with much delight that we would scoop into the pudding and eat feverishly, until one of us bit the hidden coin and proudly announced that we were the winner. It was only years later that Mum found out we didn’t really like the pudding and only ate it to find the threepence – which, of course, was worthless by then.
As an adult she became my best friend, advisor and confidante. Her greatest quality was to encourage me to make the best of everything and to face problems head on. She was a proud woman who believed that there was no obstacle that couldn’t be overcome.
Mum had many friends of all ages. Even in retirement, she would have an endless stream of friends dropping in - kids in the neighbourhood would come over to ask Mum questions about their pet, school or to eat one of her home-baked cookies.
Mum has always been my support, strength and comfort when times have been tough. I don’t know how I will cope without her – it leaves a massive hole in my life. But I will draw strength from the things she taught me and live by the words from Desdemona that my mother always quoted, as if her own: “Accept the things you cannot change and change the things you can”.
It is an honour to stand before you and share my precious memories of my mother. She will be missed by all, but her memory will live on in us all forever.
I love you so much, Mum, and will miss you more than words can say.
Dad was the light of my life. Even as a little girl, I remember him making me laugh so much I would nearly cry. He had a wicked sense of humour that rubbed off on anyone that was near him. No one was upset around Dad for too long – although he did have his serious side, too, of course.
Dad grew up in the country, on a dairy farm a few hours from Melbourne called Toora and was surrounded by sheep, farm animals and beautiful landscape. But his love for the written word drew him to the ‘big smoke’ to study literature at Trinity College in Melbourne. He said his passion came from his grandfather who used read endlessly to him. Stories that even as an adult he loved dearly and would read to us when we were kids. His favourites were Moby Dick and Tom Sawyer.
My parents met at Trinity College and after graduating, decided to get married. Two years later I was born, followed by my brother Charlie a year after that.
Dad was always so caring and giving to us children. Even when we ran in and out of his office a million times interrupting his writing, Dad never got too angry. He would usher us away with suggestions of how we could occupy ourselves – always with creative and new ideas.
Dad was also inspirational to us, with his passion for music. He loved most types, but his favourite was Neil Diamond. On Sunday afternoons, we would gather in the lounge room and Dad would put on his ‘album of the week’. He would pull Mum in his arms and dance around the room while we clapped hands and giggled... and then it was our turn. Dad would grab us both and swing us up and around until we were sick with laughter and dizziness. The fun we had on those Sundays, I will never forget.
Dad was a very clever man and could be introspective at times when there were serious decisions to be made. He never made rash decisions, but thought long and hard before giving us advice – sound advice that has helped to shape my life profoundly. He was always walking around saying that “life is too short to be hunched over a desk all your life, you must go out into the world and experience its beauty and learn its mysteries”.
Even as adults Dad inspired us, although we never really told him. Every couple of months the family would receive invitations to one of his infamous week-ends away. He would find a mystery location – always near a river or the ocean, and send us directions at the last minute. We were prepared, as we had learnt years ago what the week-end would involve. We would pack everything needed to go swimming, fishing, snorkelling, or if in the winter months bushwalks and sightseeing– it was always a week-end of fun and activity. Times that we all and especially the grandchildren will never forget.
Dad: Your love, your patience, your understanding, your wisdom and your amazing sense of humour will live on inside us forever. You have given us gifts that are more precious than anything in this world. Goodbye, Dad. You will always live on in my heart.
Your Eminence, Vicki, Kara, Edward, Patrick, Curran, Caroline, members of the Kennedy family, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:
Today we say goodbye to the youngest child of Rose and Joseph Kennedy. The world will long remember their son Edward as the heir to a weighty legacy; a champion for those who had none; the soul of the Democratic Party; and the lion of the United States Senate — a man who graces nearly 1,000 laws, and who penned more than 300 laws himself.
But those of us who loved him, and ache with his passing, know Ted Kennedy by the other titles he held: Father. Brother. Husband. Grandfather. Uncle Teddy, or as he was often known to his younger nieces and nephews, “The Grand Fromage,” or “The Big Cheese.” I, like so many others in the city where he worked for nearly half a century, knew him as a colleague, a mentor, and above all, as a friend.
Ted Kennedy was the baby of the family who became its patriarch; the restless dreamer who became its rock. He was the sunny, joyful child who bore the brunt of his brothers’ teasing, but learned quickly how to brush it off. When they tossed him off a boat because he didn’t know what a jib was, six-year-old Teddy got back in and learned to sail. When a photographer asked the newly elected Bobby to step back at a press conference because he was casting a shadow on his younger brother, Teddy quipped, “It’ll be the same in Washington.”
That spirit of resilience and good humour would see Teddy through more pain and tragedy than most of us will ever know. He lost two siblings by the age of 16. He saw two more taken violently from a country that loved them. He said goodbye to his beloved sister, Eunice, in the final days of his life. He narrowly survived a plane crash, watched two children struggle with cancer, buried three nephews, and experienced personal failings and setbacks in the most public way possible.
It’s a string of events that would have broken a lesser man. And it would have been easy for Ted to let himself become bitter and hardened; to surrender to self-pity and regret; to retreat from public life and live out his years in peaceful quiet. No one would have blamed him for that. But that was not Ted Kennedy. As he told us, “…[I]ndividual faults and frailties are no excuse to give in — and no exemption from the common obligation to give of ourselves.” Indeed, Ted was the “Happy Warrior” that the poet Wordsworth spoke of when he wrote:
As tempted more; more able to endure,
As more exposed to suffering and distress;
Thence, also, more alive to tenderness.
Through his own suffering, Ted Kennedy became more alive to the plight and the suffering of others — the sick child who could not see a doctor; the young soldier denied her rights because of what she looks like or who she loves or where she comes from. The landmark laws that he championed — the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, immigration reform, children’s health insurance, the Family and Medical Leave Act — all have a running thread. Ted Kennedy’s life work was not to champion the causes of those with wealth or power or special connections. It was to give a voice to those who were not heard; to add a rung to the ladder of opportunity; to make real the dream of our founding. He was given the gift of time that his brothers were not, and he used that gift to touch as many lives and right as many wrongs as the years would allow.
We can still hear his voice bellowing through the Senate chamber, face reddened, fist pounding the podium, a veritable force of nature, in support of health care or workers’ rights or civil rights. And yet, as has been noted, while his causes became deeply personal, his disagreements never did. While he was seen by his fiercest critics as a partisan lightning rod, that’s not the prism through which Ted Kennedy saw the world, nor was it the prism through which his colleagues saw Ted Kennedy. He was a product of an age when the joy and nobility of politics prevented differences of party and platform and philosophy from becoming barriers to cooperation and mutual respect — a time when adversaries still saw each other as patriots.
And that’s how Ted Kennedy became the greatest legislator of our time. He did it by hewing to principle, yes, but also by seeking compromise and common cause — not through deal-making and horse-trading alone, but through friendship, and kindness, and humour. There was the time he courted Orrin Hatch for support of the Children’s Health Insurance Program by having his chief of staff serenade the senator with a song Orrin had written himself; the time he delivered shamrock cookies on a china plate to sweeten up a crusty Republican colleague; the famous story of how he won the support of a Texas20committee chairman on an immigration bill. Teddy walked into a meeting with a plain manila envelope, and showed only the chairman that it was filled with the Texan’s favourite cigars. When the negotiations were going well, he would inch the envelope closer to the chairman. (Laughter.)
When they weren’t, he’d pull it back. (Laughter.)
Before long, the deal was done. (Laughter.)
It was only a few years ago, on St. Patrick’s Day, when Teddy buttonholed me on the floor of the Senate for my support of a certain piece of legislation that was coming up for vote. I gave my pledge, but I expressed scepticism that it would pass. But when the roll call was over, the bill garnered the votes that it needed, and then some. I looked at Teddy with astonishment and asked how had he done it. He just patted me on the back and said, “Luck of the Irish.” (Laughter.)
Of course, luck had little to do with Ted Kennedy’s legislative success; he knew that. A few years ago, his father-in-law told him that he and Daniel Webster just might be the two greatest senators of all time. Without missing a beat, Teddy replied, “What did Webster do?” (Laughter.) But though it is Teddy’s historic body of achievements that we will remember, it is his giving heart that we will miss. It was the friend and the colleague who was always the first to pick up the phone and say, “I’m sorry for your loss,” or “I hope you feel better,” or “What can I do to help?” It was the boss so adored by his staff that over 500, spanning five decades, showed up for his 75th birthday party. It was the man who sent birthday wishes and thank-you notes and even his own paintings to so many who never imagined that a U.S. senator of such stature would take the time to think about somebody like them. I have one of those paintings in my private study off the Oval Office — a Cape Cod seascape that was a gift to a freshman legislator who had just arrived in Washington and happened to admire it when Ted Kennedy welcomed him into his office. That, by the way, is my second gift from Teddy and Vicki after our dog Bo. And it seems like everyone has one of those stories — the ones that often start with “You wouldn’t believe who called me today.”
Ted Kennedy was the father who looked not only after his own three children, but John’s and Bobby’s as well. He took them camping and taught them to sail. He laughed and danced with them at birthdays and weddings; cried and mourned with them through hardship and tragedy; and passed on that same sense of service and selflessness that his parents had instilled in him. Shortly after Ted walked Caroline down the aisle and gave her away at the altar, he received a note from Jackie that read, “On you the carefree youngest brother fell a burden a hero would have begged to been spared. We are all going to make it because you were always there with your love.”
Not only did the Kennedy family make it because of Ted’s love — he made it because of t heirs, especially because the love and the life he found in Vicki. After so much loss and so much sorrow, it could not have been easy for Ted to risk his heart again. And that he did is a testament to how deeply he loved this remarkable woman from Louisiana. And she didn’t just love him back. As Ted would often acknowledge, Vicki saved him. She gave him strength and purpose; joy and friendship; and stood by him always, especially in those last, hardest days. We cannot know for certain how long we have here.
We cannot foresee the trials or misfortunes that will test us along the way. We cannot know what God’s plan is for us.
What we can do is to live out our lives as best we can with purpose, and with love, and with joy. We can use each day to show those who are closest to us how much we care about them, and treat others with the kindness and respect that we wish for ourselves. We can learn from our mistakes and grow from our failures. And we can strive at all costs to make a better world, so that someday, if we are blessed with the chance to look back on our time here, we know that we spent it well; that we made a difference; that our fleeting presence had a lasting impact on the lives of others.
This is how Ted Kennedy lived. This is his legacy. He once said, as has already been mentioned, of his brother Bobby that he need not be idealized or enlarged in death because what he was in life — and I imagine he would say the same about himself. The greatest expectations were placed upon Ted Kennedy’s shoulders because of who he was, but he surpassed them all because of who he became. We do not weep for him today because of the prestige attached to his name or his office. We weep because we loved this kind and tender hero who persevered through pain and tragedy — not for the sake of ambition or vanity; not for wealth or power; but only for the people and the country that he loved.
In the days after September 11th, Teddy made it a point to personally call each one of the 177 families of this state who lost a loved one in the attack. But he didn’t stop there. He kept calling and checking up on them. He fought through red tape to get them assistance and grief counselling. He invited them sailing, played with their children, and would write each family a letter whenever the anniversary of that terrible day came along. To one widow, he wrote the following:
“As you know so well, the passage of time never really heals the tragic memory of such a great loss, but we carry on, because we have to, because our loved ones would want us to, and because there is still light to guide us in the world from the love they gave us.”
We carry on.
Ted Kennedy has gone home now, guided by his faith and by the light of those that he has loved and lost. At last he is with them once more, leaving those of us who grieve his passing with the memories he gave, the good that he did, the dream he kept alive, and a single, enduring image — the image of a man on a boat, white mane tousled, smiling broadly as he sails into the wind, ready for whatever storms may come, carrying on toward some new and wondrous place just beyond the horizon. May God bless Ted Kennedy, and may he rest in eternal peace.
The Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales occurred at Westminster Abbey on Saturday the 6th of September 1997 at 11.00 a.m. Her brother Charles Edward Maurice Spencer, the 9th Earl Spencer delivered the following Tribute for his sister Diana.
I stand before you today the representative of a family in grief, in a country in mourning before a world in shock.
We are all united not only in our desire to pay our respects to Diana but rather in our need to do so. For such was her extraordinary appeal that the tens of millions of people taking part in this service all over the world via television and radio who never actually met her, feel that they too lost someone close to them in the early hours of Sunday morning. It is a more remarkable tribute to Diana than I can ever hope to offer her today.
Diana was the very essence of compassion, of duty, of style, of beauty.
All over the world she was a symbol of selfless humanity. All over the world, a standard-bearer for the rights of the truly downtrodden, a very British girl who transcended nationality. Someone with a natural nobility who was classless and who proved in the last year that she needed no royal title to continue to generate her particular brand of magic.
Today is our chance to say thank you for the way you brightened our lives, even though God granted you but half a life. We will all feel cheated always that you were taken from us so young and yet we must learn to be grateful that you came along at all. Only now that you are gone do we truly appreciate what we are now without, and we want you to know that life without you is very, very difficult. We have all despaired at your loss over the past week and only the strength of the message you gave us through your years of giving has afforded us the strength to move forward.
There is a temptation to rush to canonise your memory; there is no need to do so. You stand tall enough as a human being of unique qualities not to need to be seen as a saint. Indeed, to sanctify your memory would be to miss out on the very core of your being, your wonderfully mischievous sense of humour with a laugh that bent you double. Your joy for life transmitted wherever you took your smile and the sparkle in those unforgettable eyes. Your boundless energy which you could barely contain.
But your greatest gift was your intuition, and it was a gift you used wisely. This is what underpinned all your other wonderful attributes and if we look to analyse what it was about you that had such a wide appeal we find it in your instinctive feel for what was really important in all our lives. Without your God-given sensitivity we would be immersed in greater ignorance at the anguish of AIDS and HIV sufferers, the plight of the homeless, the isolation of lepers, the random destruction of landmines. Diana explained to me once that it was her innermost feelings of suffering that made it possible for her to connect with her constituency of the rejected. And here we come to another truth about her. For all the status, the glamour, the applause, Diana remained throughout a very insecure person at heart, almost childlike in her desire to do good for others so she could release herself from deep feelings of unworthiness of which her eating disorders were merely a symptom. The world sensed this part of her character and cherished her for her vulnerability whilst admiring her for her honesty.
The last time I saw Diana was on July 1, her birthday, in London, when typically she was not taking time to celebrate her special day with friends but was guest of honour at a special charity fund-raising evening. She sparkled of course, but I would rather cherish the days I spent with her in March when she came to visit me and my children in our home in South Africa. I am proud of the fact that apart from when she was on display meeting President Mandela we managed to contrive to stop the ever-present paparazzi from getting a single picture of her - that meant a lot to her.
These were days I will always treasure. It was as if we had been transported back to our childhood when we spent such an enormous amount of time together - the two youngest in the family. Fundamentally she had not changed at all from the big sister who mothered me as a baby, fought with me at school and endured those long train journeys between our parents' homes with me at weekends.
It is a tribute to her levelheadedness and strength that despite the most bizarre-like life imaginable after her childhood, she remained intact, true to herself.
There is no doubt that she was looking for a new direction in her life at this time. She talked endlessly of getting away from England, mainly because of the treatment that she received at the hands of the newspapers. I don't think she ever understood why her genuinely good intentions were sneered at by the media, why there appeared to be a permanent quest on their behalf to bring her down. It is baffling.
My own and only explanation is that genuine goodness is threatening to those at the opposite end of the moral spectrum. It is a point to remember that of all the ironies about Diana, perhaps the greatest was this - a girl given the name of the ancient goddess of hunting was, in the end, the most hunted person of the modern age.
She would want us today to pledge ourselves to protecting her beloved boys William and Harry from a similar fate and I do this here, Diana, on your behalf. We will not allow them to suffer the anguish that used regularly to drive you to tearful despair.
And beyond that, on behalf of your mother and sisters, I pledge that we, your blood family, will do all we can to continue the imaginative way in which you were steering these two exceptional young men so that their souls are not simply immersed by duty and tradition but can sing openly as you planned.
We fully respect the heritage into which they have both been born and will always respect and encourage them in their royal role but we, like you, recognise the need for them to experience as many different aspects of life as possible to arm them spiritually and emotionally for the years ahead. I know you would have expected nothing less from us.
William and Harry, we all care desperately for you today. We are all chewed up with the sadness at the loss of a woman who was not even our mother. How great your suffering is, we cannot even imagine.
I would like to end by thanking God for the small mercies he has shown us at this dreadful time. For taking Diana at her most beautiful and radiant and when she had joy in her private life. Above all we give thanks for the life of a woman I am so proud to be able to call my sister, the unique, the complex, the extraordinary and irreplaceable Diana whose beauty, both internal and external, will never be extinguished from our minds.