Gratitude Sunday: Thank You, Jackie

Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.

Sunday Haiku
Spring, indifferent
queen, flighty rain, fickle sun,
bring your nature home.

Sunday Musings
I have always been fascinated by Jackie Kennedy. I viewed the new movie Jackie (2016, rated R) this week, and while there is much I didn’t like about the movie, it reminded me of how much I admired a woman who went through a very difficult time in a very public manner. She had some choices, but perhaps not the ones that would have been best for her. She had to acknowledge her husband’s family, and the entire country who were all nearly as much in shock as she was.

My critique of the movie you can read below in my Current View segment. I want to tell you why I am so fascinated with Jackie. It’s all about her chronology. How somebody can endure so many life changes in such a small amount of time without imploding/exploding/disintegrating into mental health issues, amazes me. But she was a mother and a good one so she couldn’t disintegrate with the trauma. She had to keep going on.

Jackie was born July 28, 1929, the same year as my mother, being a mere 4 months older. Obviously their lives were quite different. I thought they had a vague resemblance when I first became aware of her when I was in the second grade. They both had strong jawlines and high cheekbones, pretty eyes, thick dark hair, and slender figures. I’m guessing my awareness of Jackie started with JFK’s campaign for president. We had a TV and it would have been the beginning of recorded history for the populace as more TVs were being made affordable enough for most family homes.

In 1953, JFK was 36 years old on May 29th. He’d been elected to serve as Senator for Massachusetts, having previously served in the House of Representatives for six years. Jackie was 24 years old on July 28th. They married on September 12 that year. She knew whom she was marrying; she’d been groomed and prepared for a political life. I was born in October.

In the fall of 1953 and winter on 1954 JFK had two delicate and serious back surgeries, and had several more back surgeries over the years.

In 1955, the year my sister was born, Jackie suffered her first miscarriage, pregnancy number 1. August 23, 1956, she delivered a stillborn daughter she named Arabella, pregnancy number 2. Pregnancy number 3 resulted in Caroline’s live birth on November 27, 1957. Caroline will be 60 this year. The older of my two baby brothers was born in 1957, and just joined the 60 club. They have very different lives.

It’s almost eerie how her time-line speeds up now. From hindsight, of course.

JFK was elected as the 35th President of the United States on November 8, 1960. Seventeen days later, November 25, 1960, Jackie’s 4th pregnancy delivered John F Kennedy Jr. Two days after John Jr’s birth, November 27 Caroline celebrated her 3rd birthday. JFK is inaugurated January 20, 1961. Jackie has an almost 2 month old infant in arms, and a toddler, though from my limited resources it appears as if the children did not attend any of the inaugural events. Jackie attended the inaugural events. Underneath her wool coat, was she leaking breast milk for her new baby like any new mother or had she handed him over to nannies and sterile bottle formula feeding? She was a private person, and this detail we are likely to never know.

Then the quantum time leap of 1963 occurs.

Patrick Kennedy, Jackie’s 5th pregnancy in 8 years, was born on August 9, 1963 and lived 2 days, just long enough for a mother to fall in love with her child. She had to endure his funeral and burial.

September 12th, 1963 was the 10th anniversary of Jackie and JFK.

1963 and the trainwreck which disrupts the world: JFK is assassinated November 22, 1963. It was my mother’s birthday. She was 34, same age as Jackie. Vice President Lyndon Johnson insisted on being inaugurated President while on the plane en route to DC, with JFK’s body aboard and Jackie still in the suit she was wearing when he was killed.

Three days later John Jr has his 3rd birthday on November 25th. Mass was held for his father and JFK was interred the same day.

Two days after John Jr’s birthday, November 27, Caroline has her 6th birthday.

Jackie had not expected to move from the White House for at least another two years and more likely 6 after a re-election, and though she always knew she’d have to move out of the White House as some point, now in the midst of the burial of her husband, and the birthdays of her two surviving children she was expected to immediately remove herself, her children, and her belongings from the White House.

See what I mean? She was only 34. It was a fast 10 year run which seemed to include all good choices. Ten years: a marriage, a decade together to celebrate; 5 pregnancies, two infant burials, one miscarriage, plenty of heart ache; the several surgeries for her husband with the inherent risks surgery always includes; perhaps the knowledge that her husband was likely not being faithful to his marriage vows, and that perhaps he was more ill than he wanted known by the public; then the shock of JFK’s murder as she tried to hold him together with her own hands; the moving of households at least three times within those 10 years, one of the moves after a traumatic shock. So much disruption and sorrow in a short 10 years. If you are anywhere over 30 years of age you know how short 10 years is now, especially if you have children of your own.

I was 10 years old just a month before JFK was killed. I remember the fifth grade classroom I was in, and the boy who delivered the news was known as a prankster, so the teacher did not immediately believe him. Then we found out he was right, and the teacher was rattled; she was the kind of old fashioned old-lady teacher who was never rattled. I cried all the way home.

The body can only bear so much. Jackie went on to another marriage to Aristotle Onassis, to a career in editing, and saw three grandchildren born to her daughter Caroline and she got to spend time with them. She passed away from breast cancer at the age on 64 on May 19, 1994. I’m glad she didn’t have to bury her son, as JFK Jr died in July of 1999. Caroline had to deal with that and I haven’t even thought that much about what she’s gone through, losing her father, her mother, her brother and only sibling. As I write this I realize this year she is 60.

I have been contemplating presidential candidates for 2020. I’d like to see a younger person step up. Somebody who is truly a champion for the people, not the already wealthy. Too bad Caroline is going to be 60, and she’s been through enough already. Though she doesn’t have the service record of her father, she’d be a sight better than what we have now. At least I have confidence she would bother to do her homework.

We all have our stories. Jackie’s was more public than most. She was fascinated by and studied history, and she made her mark in history as well. As we approach the anniversary of her death, I’d like to say, Thank you, Jackie, for your dignity, your grace during crisis, your endurance, your inspiration to a generation of women who, while we might not be like her in affluence or politics, we are like her in our endurance, our dignity, and our ability to keep on despite the traumas in this life.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – A bright pink rhododendron that lives up the street. I love the pale pink of this poppy with the fat black center. The only flowering plant in my yard is right outside my bedroom window; love the pale pink. Purple allium globes.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} Fences (2016, rated PG – 13) with Viola Davis and Denzel Washington; Davis won Academy Award Best Supporting Actress for her performance. Wow, this film caught a slice of life so uniquely and precisely. The details: every scrap of sun in a yard was planted with vegetables in the midst of so much concrete, pots of greens in every yard where there was no dirt. The view of the neighborhood street in so many views, and different weather. How tender they were with each other until it all fell apart, and it could happen in anybody’s life. Recommended. * Jackie (2016, rated R), with Natalie Portman. In the days after JFK’s assassination, Jackie meets with a journalist and relives the trauma of her husband’s murder. This is a difficult movie to do well. Jackie’s wig was atrocious and ill-fitted. Natalie did her best to emulate Jackie’s affected speech patterns, but often her attempts resulted in facial distortions and did not come off as natural. There also seemed something lacking (or forced?) in her passion/trauma. I realize a woman in the public eye will have to behave differently, but I’m talking about the movie story. It just didn’t quite do it for me. Meh.

Currently ReadingThe Book of Joan (2017, fiction) by Lidia Yuknavitch. The author rips your heart out, then your brain, burns it all, and then builds you back together again. Gah. * Galileo’s Middle Finger: Heretics, Activists, and the Search for Justice in Science (2015, scientific morality and ethics) by Alice Dreger. Be careful what your doctor tells you; eyes wide open. Do your own research, especially if you are offered a drug that is experimental in any way, or being used “off label” (not what it was originally designed for). Read all forms put in front of you to sign, and require copies for your own files. Medicine, science, peer review, and oversight committees are all in question because of the competition for federal and public funding and grant acquisition; some people are willing to fudge the ethics to get the funding. The disintegration of the investigative press because of the Internet has an impact as well, as information is more haphazard. You cannot be too careful. It’s your body. Or your child’s, or parent’s.

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Surviving a recent 4 hour tour into the greater Portland area. This world is so busy! And in such a hurry!
  • The sweet smell of wet trees and soil and how that changes with the ambient temperature.
  • Learning patience. Every day goes by no matter what else you do or what you are waiting for.
  • Finding a fat bag of lettuce mix at the farmers market. And a box of sugar snap peas.
  • The green spring flavor of lettuce and peas.
  • Missing my dad, gone 16 years this week.
  • The sun so bright a couple of days, I could not see.
  • The bright and loud thunderstorm that moved through and washed everything clean.
  • Getting through the hubster’s birthday. He’s not an easy man to please, rather like a chameleon, and after all these years I still don’t have a handle on how to read him.
  • The little birds outside tweeting through the day.
  • Enjoying a mild day, not too hot, not too cold, and the hail only lasted a few minutes.
  • Learning new rhythms.
  • The struggle I have embracing impermanence and insecurity. It is what it is.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

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2 Responses to Gratitude Sunday: Thank You, Jackie

  1. piratesorka says:

    Funny you should dedicate one of your essays to Jackie Kennedy. In my life I have only been mildly interested in her. She always seemed so above the average American woman. Of course I was aghast and sad for her during her ordeal of the assassination. The vision of her trying to crawl out of the car seems to be burned in my memory the most.
    But she was not my favorite First Lady and I said as much last fall.
    I said that for all the First Ladies I had during my life time my vote went to Michelle Obama. Brilliant woman , her forte was the Law and so she became a lawyer. She was one of the first First Ladies in memory ( or any woman in the news) to wear regular off the rack clothes( forget the matter they were still beyond my budget) which she did beautifully every bit as well as the desi8gner gowns she also wore. She focused on children’s needs in physical education as well as daily nutrition; which if both are made important to children they can actually learn to focus more and perform better in their pursuit of education. Now we have this moron DeVos who as Director of Education has slashed the nutrition program for children.
    In any case, Obama was lovely, bright, witty and certainly not afraid to make fun of herself or go before the cameras in less dignified positions. She was a perfect combo of being brilliant and beautiful. She and Barack made PDA’s like they meant it and they did.
    Then I faced criticism from folks who were aghast I dared to say Michelle was my choice for Best First Lady.. How dare I? How dare I indeed.

    We need to get together soon if for nothing more than long conversations. I itch to have an intelligent person with whom I trust utterly. Nothing crucial, notthing amiss… just spring fever
    Oh and PS. beautiful photos my dear…
    .

    Like

    • sassy kas says:

      I love Michelle as well, always seemed the most prepared for the JOB. Jackie, I think, was so much along for the ride, (somewhat of a trophy), but what dignity after so much tragedy.
      and any time dear, any time, I know what you mean.

      Like

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