When I read the obits yesterday of the daughters of two famous politicians, I was happy to be 64. Kara Kennedy Allen, whose dad was Senator Edward M. Kennedy, died last Friday of a heart attack. A filmmaker, she was 51 and had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002, which was in remission.
Eleanor Poling, whose dad was former Vice President Walter F. Mondale, died Saturday of brain cancer, which she’s been battling since 2005. A former radio and TV personality, she, too, was 51.
The commonalities are astounding and so sad. How horrible to be diagnosed with any cancer, no less such horrible cancers, in your forties, when life holds so much promise.
I remember thinking how poised and beautiful Eleanor was in 1984, when she worked for her father’s presidential campaign. She married three times and had no children. “A great spirit, a lot of courage. She fought [cancer] almost six years now, and never a whimper,” dad Walter said.
Unlike her dad, Kara was more comfortable behind a camera, rather than in front of it, her obit related. “But like him, I found my greatest fulfillment in showing the needs and successes of others,” she wrote in an article. She produced a number of videos for Very Special Arts, an organization for people with disabilities. Her brother, Patrick, said her two children were “the most important things in her whole life.”
It is insane that any of us ever complains about getting older. We simply don’t have any guarantees we’ll even become older, so if we do (without too much heartache and tragedy), we’re damn lucky. Damn lucky!