During his funeral, Ted beautifully honored his father with a story about triumphing over adversity. "When I was 12 years old, I was diagnosed with bone cancer, and a few months after I lost my leg there was a heavy snowfall over my childhood home outside of Washington, D.C, and my father went to the garage to get the old flexible flyer and asked me if I wanted to go sledding down the steep driveway," Ted said in his eulogy. "I was trying to get used to my new artificial leg and the hill was covered with ice and snow and it wasn't easy for me to walk, and the hill was very slick. And as I struggled to walk, I slipped and I fell on the ice and I started to cry. I said, 'I can't do this.' I said, 'I'll never be able to climb up that hill.' And he lifted me up in his strong, gentle arms and said something I will never forget. He said: 'I know you can do it. There's nothing that you can't do. We're going to climb that hill together, even if it takes us all day.' Sure enough, he held me around my waist and we slowly made it to the top."
In True Compass, Sen. Kennedy writes that telling Ted about his bone cancer was one of the most difficult moments in his life, but Ted says his father never let him see that pain.
"He had to be so strong because with everything that happened with [John's] death and Bobby's death and with the challenges that I faced in my life, I think he felt like he really needed to be there for all of us," Ted says. "I think he felt like if he showed a lot of vulnerability, he might be swallowed up by it."