My grandmother was mesmerized by the Kennedy family. She was given up for adoption in 1923, and always wished that she had been part of a large family. She was happy when John F. Kennedy was elected as President in 1960, and when she became pregnant in 1963 at the same time as Jackie, her connection grew stronger.
My mother was due on August 7th, 1963, but she arrived four days early. So when Patrick Kennedy was born premature on my mother’s due date and died two days later, the imaginary bond that my grandmother created grew stronger.
I grew up listening to my grandmother talk about her admiration for the Kennedy family. I was born eighteen weeks premature, which created another link in my grandmother’s non-existent broken chain that she shared with Jackie. She told me stories about the Kennedy children and parents and showed me old articles out of Life magazine that she kept in her cedar chest. These memories made it easy for me to recreate that traumatic day in Dallas. I was able to close my eyes and hear the cheers of excited people waiting to greet the couple they admired and then feel the grief that swallowed the nation after the fatal shot was fired. I was able to visit “the cold dark place within” (Lamott 197) and share the “way to the truth” (Lamott 201).
My grandmother was an eccentric lady who lived life to the fullest. She believed that every day had a memory waiting to be made and she loved people unconditionally. My poem about Jackie is a tribute to the invisible friendship my grandmother shared with her and it is a testament to how strangers admired the strength of the elegant woman wearing a pale pink suit who endured so much in her young life as the first lady of the United States.
(Quotations are from Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird)
Here is where you can read “From an Open Window”: From an Open Window”