On CNN she wrote, “God bless him, he hadn’t a note in his head,” but in our conversation she elaborated on that saying, “He genuinely loved to sing and I love to see people sing just for the nature of singing without regard to the quality of their voice.”
Sharing the words of a song is another valuable form of communication to people like O’Connell and Kennedy which became a bond between them. Teddy and Victoria thoughtfully sent gifts and notes to Maura upon her own marriage to Mac Bennett the following April and upon the birth of their son Jesse.
Three years ago, O’Connell accompanied Jesse, 13, on a trip to Washington, D.C. for a camp for young leaders of America. Disappointed that the activities did not include any opportunity to meet with any serving politicians, she made a call to the senator’s office.
Time was immediately carved out for Kennedy to meet with the group of children giving a personal example of why public service was important, and an instant civic lesson that made a lasting impression.
Young Jesse, who is disabled and wheelchair bound, saw first hand the kindness and dedication of a legislator who not only helped write the Americans With Disabilities Act, but went beyond the letter of the law and expressed the spirit of it as well.
Many of us recall the special place of reverence on the wall in Irish households for a picture of Jack Kennedy along side that of the current Pope. In the Ennis household of the O’Connell family atop the piano was a framed photo of Maura’s father with a younger Teddy Kennedy taken at the nearby Shannon Duty Free Shop in the early 1960s.
That picture now stands in Nashville home of Maura O’Connell as another fitting example of a family tie that binds, but one that reflects a much happier connection than the song suggested so many years ago when this Irish connection was made.
O’Connell’s latest CD released earlier this year, Naked With Friends, on Sugar Hill Records, features a number of duets with the singer and friends in Ireland and America with an emphasis on sharing songs familiar and not so familiar and can be ordered at www.mauraoconnell.com.
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