A Meaningful Life Despite Obstacles

Last week my cousin Tommy died of cancer. Except for one unfortunate accident fortysomething years ago we would be mourning Father Tommy Kennedy, not State Senator Tommy Kennedy.

Tommy had planned on being a priest. While at seminary he fell out of a window. The fall broke his neck and left him a quadriplegic for the rest of his life. Shaking his hand required grabbing hold of his limply held fist, and getting him into and out of non ADA compliant buildings often required lifting his wheelchair up flights of stairs.

After his accident, it was clear that Tommy would have difficulty fulfilling the duties of a parish priest. He found his way into the world of politics, becoming a city counselor in our hometown of Brockton, MA, state representative and finally state senator. Despite not being a priest, he continued to serve the people of Brockton, a city that has had its share of difficulties.  

I waited an hour at his wake to pay my respects, and that was on the second day, near the end of visiting time. The impact of his life was bigger than he imagined.

Tommy's life proves it is still possible to have a meaningful life despite your obstacles. He will be missed.

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