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Now I'm ready for heaven: priest tells of deathbed words

AN Irish priest who comforted Senator Ted Kennedy on his deathbed has told how the dying politician insisted he was ready to go to heaven.

Monsignor Patrick Tarrant, a native of Cork, was called to the Kennedy home on Tuesday evening when Mr Kennedy took a turn for the worst.

He had been working at the nearby Our Lady of Victory Parish in Hyannisport when the call came just before 10pm.

The priest watched as the Senator's family crowded around him as he slowly passed away -- dying at 11.30pm.

"He expressed to his family that he did want to go. He did want to go to heaven. He was ready to go," Msgr Tarrant told a local news station.

Sombre

"Teddy wanted to go, he went in peace and it was beautiful." Despite the sombre nature of the gathering, the priest recounted how there was "a peace in the room."

Msgr Tarrant also told how he was deeply impressed with the family and their willingness to pray as the end neared.

"I have been a priest for 56 years and I would say that rarely have I seen such a devout, prayerful family after the death of his sister and his own death. I am very impressed," he said.

"It's never easy to part with those you lose, to part from them and see them go, even if you know they want to go and they don't want to suffer any more.

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"I don't know how much he was suffering as I am sure he has well-cared for medically; I am sure he was because the doctor was there," he added.

"He was slipping away gradually as I got there, but everybody was right there. The doctor was there of course, and all the family were there."

Msgr Tarrant told how many generations of Kennedys were there and that Vickie, the senator's wife, and his children were in tears as he began to slip away.

"They are all such handsome kids and they were there and they were prayerful and reverent and they were talking about their grandfather and talking to him," he told the US-based website irishcentral.com.

"They were aware that for the very sick the sense of hearing is the last to go, so whatever is said around the sickbed is always heard by the patient, which is good to keep in mind, and they were very well aware of it."

Debilitated

Msgr Tarrant pointed out that the senator had previously said prayers following his sister Eunice's death on August 11 -- even though he was debilitated by his brain cancer.

He said it was clear it was Kennedy's faith that gave him strength.

"He was there and very reverent. I wish the world had known that part of him, but that was his secret," the priest said.

"It was like it was the secret of his power, to be involved in doing good for others and it was what, I believe, drove him."


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