It looks like Caroline might not get the nod for Hilary's old seat after all, in which case I feel for her, as one who was constantly getting passed over and ditched by the big kids. "All right, you can play Hide and Seek with us but you have to be It," they'd say to me and by the time I'd counted to 100 and opened my eyes they'd be inside somebody's house or off in a whole other neighborhood. My mother had one solution when I'd show up sobbing in the kitchen. "Come honey, we'll do the beds!" she'd gaily call, as if a trip to the linen closet was the best fun a person could have. I trailed around after her though, still snuffling but also fascinated as with practiced hands she made those clean sheets snap like flags on a windy day.
Caroline has been the focus of much attention over the last month and finding herself on a bunch of Fashion Don't lists must have feel like the last straw to her.
I say let's leave her wardrobe out of it, first of all. Ditto her hair, which may seem a lot like the same horsy manes on her dad's side of the family but is really is a lot like her mom's I think, right down to that slightly asymmetrical widow's peak. And who cares if she says "Ya know" a lot? Everyone has verbal tics. My old piano teacher used to say "Doncha know" at the end of every sentence. "It's a waltz, doncha know!" she would hiss in exasperation, nearly pushing me clear off the piano bench as she settled one giant haunch beside me. My old neighbor used to say "there again," every five minutes, as if life's every passing moment served as proof in some vast argument she was always bent on making. Me I say 'wicked' as in 'wicked cold' all the time because hey, I'm from Boston.
Well, Caroline's from Boston too, or her people are anyway. Her son-of-Irish immigrants grandfather Joe lies in the same cemetery as my son-of-Irish immigrants grandfather Michael and if one became a mogul and one a reformer -- my grandfather ran for Mayor of Boston against the scoundrel-y James Michael Curley -- they both sniffed the air of a new century and set out to make their mark on it. (Also buried there is her aunt Rosemary whose life was so altered by the lobotomy in '41. Poor Rosemary attended the summer camp my family owned, and sent my mother several sweet and yearning letters in the following months, the same months leading up to that tragic surgery.)
When I was a girl I thought Caroline Kennedy was the only other Caroline in the world besides the ones in my family, for Caroline is my 'real' name too and also the name of my mother and her mother too, Michael's wife, who died at 31 most of the way through her fifth pregnancy. She, and the unnamed child in her arms, were the first of our people buried over there at Holyhood in Brookline.
I guess I just feel connected to her. She's like some youngest sibling who turns into this terrifically funny, smart, easy-going adult.
I hope if she doesn't get Hilary's old Senate seat, she can still find some way to speak to us in her fine frank way. And I hope in moments of disappointment that she too will get that Honey-Let's-Do-the-Beds invitation, and remember the satisfaction to be had in performing life's plain and daily tasks.
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