After his sister Kara accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom on behalf of their father Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Representative Patrick Kennedy got some private time Wednesday with President Obama in the Oval Office.
"He shuts the door and starts asking me about how my father is," Kennedy told the Associated Press. "I told him he's understanding everything that is going on, he's following everything."
The Rhode Island congressman said in the interview that his father's greatest frustration is that he hasn't been on Capitol Hill for the health care debate, since universal coverage has been a career-long goal.
UPDATE: Robert Kennedy Jr. said on MSNBC this afternoon, as the public wake for his aunt Eunice Kennedy Shriver started, that the main thing that keeps Senator Kennedy going is universal healthcare -- and the prospect that he will see it finally pass in Congress.
But the senator's time at the family compound on Cape Cod has been a blessing, Patrick Kennedy said.
"It's been a chance for us to bond and be together and share a special time together that we would never have had together had he been taken from us," he said. "That's a big gift. [It] let us have the chance to tell him how much we love him. And him to be there to hear it."
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Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.