Bobby Kennedy and Langley’s Terry Morrissey (right) met in the Bahamas during 1966.

Brush with Kennedy changed Langley man’s life

He hung with Senator Bobby Kennedy for four days in 1966, and now pens a book about it.

Most Canadians tuned in to U.S. politics this week, following the preamble and aftermath of the election. They watched the surprise landslide victory of the Republicans, including Donald Trump ascension into the country’s 45th presidential term.

Terrence Morrissey has been following it, too, probably with a little different perspective than most of his Canadian counterparts.

This 78-year-old Brookswood man admits the build up to this historic election was what actually sparked the idea for him to write his fifth book, The Final Dive.

It’s a book that was inspired by a four-day encounter with Senator Robert Kennedy back in 1966 on the beaches of the Bahamas. But he said he  never had any intention of writing about that encounter, until he started to hear discussion about the presidential race almost two years back. It was like a trigger being pulled. Suddenly, he knew what he had to do.

The 75-page self-published book goes much deeper than recounting that brief meeting with Kennedy, Morrissey said. He describes it as an autobiographical book that tells of his struggles with alcoholism, and how a few simple words from Kennedy all those years ago would later change his life.

If Kennedy, like his brother, John, the president, had not been assassinated almost 50 years ago, Morrissey predicts the world would have been much different, including this week’s election outcome.

“I have often wondered, as have others, just how much greater the country called the United States of America would have been, had Bobby lived out his dream of becoming the president, and likewise had his brother, John, lived.

“We will never know, but in our collective hearts we somehow know that it would have been infinitely better,” Morrissey said.

But it’s not the political wranglings of Bobby or any of the Kennedy clan that are the focus of Morrissey’s latest book.

It was the albeit brief encounter – where the two men went diving, spear-fishing, nightclubbing, boating, dining, and even walking on the beach – that gave him the insight needed later in life (41 years ago now) to give up drinking.

“I never wanted to drink, but I couldn’t stop,” Morrissey told the Langley Advance.

It’s that “friendly,” “thoughtful,” and “genuine” man of faith, whom Morrissey said was always more concerned with people and their lot in life, that planted a seed. Upon reflection later, he realized Kennedy was telling him that with the strength from within and the aid of a higher power, he could do anything he wanted or needed to do in his life – ending his drinking included. All he had to do was ask for help.

Morrissey described it as a chance encounter with Kennedy, but “miraculous” all the same. It was life-altering he explained.

Morrissey was born and raised in Canada but working with Hertz rental car company and three years later had taken charge of an international division that included the Virgin Islands and the Bahamas.

When Morrissey learned Senator Kennedy was travelling to the islands, he extended an invitation to give him a Hertz car for the duration of his vacation. When Kennedy accepted, Morrissey made the executive decision to deliver it in person, with hopes of meeting the “gentleman.”

A casual conversation that ensued when they met brought the men together in a “comfortable” friendship that saw them socialize over the next several days.

While Kennedy obviously appreciated the encounter, based on letters of thanks he sent to Morrissey and his company’s CEO, the encounter was much more meaningful for the young Morrissey.

“This story, although short, speaks volumes, in its simplicity, of the wonderment of a great man as seen through my eyes,” the author said. “Bobby, was one of the kindest and most loving human being I have ever had the honour of meeting, sharing with, and shaking hands with.”

Morrissey hopes some of the brief moments shared with this powerful and prominent man, and Kennedy’s sincere messages of hope and compassion, are captured sufficiently in The Final Dive.

“If I read him correctly, he was a down-to-earth person… he just came across as one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He was genuine, that’s it. He was a genuine person,” Morrissey said. “With everything else he had going on in his life, how else can you explain him taking time out to send these [unsolicited] letters. Not just to me, but to the CEO of Hertz.”

The book is available at local book stores and on Amazon.

Back to poetry next

Morrissey’s first book was a collection of romantic poetry. His second book was about insecticides, abortion, and euthanasia. His third book was what he dubbed a Christian counsellor’s guide. His last book, entitled Dark Corners, was a true story about a killer going to prison and having to decide if he carried a bible or a knife behind bars.

His next book, he insists, will be another collection of romantic poems, which he believes is another six to eight months away. The poems are all written, or so he thinks. Now it’s just a matter of compiling the best for the book.

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