I had a single brush with Ted Kennedy. I was 17 years old and my father, a long-time editor and columnist at the Boston Globe, was dying of cancer when the state's senior senator appeared at our door with his wife.
It was a brief visit. My father was weak and couldn't speak much. Senator Kennedy sat in an old rocking chair with a loose arm that promptly broke off. He handled the indignity with aplomb. Spoke a bit about the latest in Washington. Said some kind words to my father.
He didn't have to stop at our house. Didn't have to pay his respects. But he did. And for a 17-year-old kid with a sick father, it was an important moment. Ted Kennedy, lion of the Senate, had acknowledged my dad's life and work.
There are thousands who can tell similar stories. Ted Kennedy was a master of the personal touch. It served his political interests, of course. But it came from a place of real humanity. A humanity that fed his life's work on civil rights and health care, but also made for smaller kindnesses.
And I will always remember the kindness he visited upon my family.