We recently had a family function at my nephew’s house in Oakland. For some reason Tom and I started talking about living and dying, a discussion we usually would yield to another relative’s wisdom and insight, our treasured Dr. Costa.
I presented to Tom a situation: How do you want to be remembered? As an Irishman, a Marine, A Hoboken police officer, a long shore man, or a St. Michael’s graduate. Somehow Tom grinned and said, “I like those choices but as much as I relish in the fact of those five selections I want to be remembered as a loving husband to MaryAnn, as a caring father to Thomas and Michael, a good brother to Joe and Mary and a genuine friend to others.” Well, Mr. Kennedy you seem to fulfill all the obligations and more.
What is interesting about Tom is you always felt safe in his company. His brothers, sister Mary, sons Tom and Michael with MaryAnn all had the uncanny quality of making one feel secure. My wife once said there was something about The Kennedys that calmed your tension. She happened upon something an intangible unique pull the family had especially the buoyancy of Tom where one always felt protected.
If one was writing a book on a fictional character about someone, and stressed one of fiction describing a person who won a football scholarship to Clemson via St. Michael’s serving in The Marines, doing local stand up comedy, owning a Hoboken bar, working as a longshoreman, serving as police officer and director of public works and safety, serving in the military with his three brothers, writing many a letter to the local newspapers, walking sheltered dogs, adoring cats, enjoying the sands of Aruba, well the person was not one of fiction but Thomas Michael Kennedy.
Today a brick was pulled from the Mile Square Wall but I would only imagine St. Peter is going to have his hands full with his brother Mick and Tom. I got a feeling he is already talking to our late Mayor Steve Cappiello about how they could win the 3rd and 4th wards. The conversation might be interrupted by another former late Mayor Mr. DePascale providing fatherly advice and then discussing the military since all three proudly served. The meeting would not last long since Tom had to get his Lotto pick from Joe Capp, then over to Fiore’s and Cervilli for some fine Italian food and of course a large Pepsi.
Thomas Michael was passionate about his country, religion, and believed in the Irish-American connection. He was so unique he went from a staunch Democrat to a Republican and I often said that if Sinatra did it so could you! If you wanted to hear the stories about the legends of Hoboken and Hudson County, well no one could hold court like him. It was done without embellishment but with his talent of impersonating the Hoboken lore. He could mimic anyone without meanness and the belly laughs were endless and enduring. Mr. Kennedy could hold his own with Kramer from “Seinfeld,” Ralph from “The Honeymooners,” Archie from “All in the Family,” and Sid Caesar. The Irish Rock band “U 2” in a song said, “And I still haven’t found what I’m looking for.” Well Thomas Michael Kennedy, you found it years ago by living life so dear. I, and so many others, will miss you and hope to see you again.
Your Dearest Friend,