Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanks for all the memories

Over this recent weekend the USA was deluged with JFK assassination dramas, recreations, books, and the ever popular Zapruder film.  Every person who was even a fetus in Dallas on that day had been interviewed and inculcated or dismissed as someone involved in the conspiracy.  Since abortions are really, really tough to find in Texas, there may have been a zygote or two thinking nasty thoughts, but not that thought. Dear Lord, not those thoughts.  The removal of one man from the world could so  change the future? To take someone from his friends and family for your own personal gain, even if it is as foolish as thinking the nation would benefit.  Buddha was right. Delusions, all delusions.

Mrs. Perry, our elementary school principal, stood in the doorway of our third grade classroom (and when Mrs. Perry stood in the doorway, she was the doorway) and told us President Kennedy had died and we were all going home.  The home part I got, even at age seven.  What I did not know was who President Kennedy was. I thought there were two guys.  The ones above the blackboard..


The bearded guy and the man with the mouth full of mashed potatoes that I saw every school day. Now because someone whose first name was also President had "died in Dallas."

Two more words there.  What is "died"? and what is "Dallas"?

I had no experience, as far as I am know, of anyone dying when I was a kid.  My mother's mom died in May 1961, and I don't remember a thing about it (hey come on, I was 4) or her at all.  Her grave site has no marker (right now). And with my mother and sister gone, and all cousins way off the grid, this is all I have:

She was hard working lady, divorced when people did not get divorced, and as a single mom raised her two kids during the Depression. She had a wide family support system, which is not always the case nowadays.  Frances McBride Van Wert is just a set of pictures now.  But I am grateful for her toughness. It helps.

So Frances did not die, she never was to me as a kid. Same with JFK.  Until his funeral.  I watched the entire procession, about three feet away from the TV tube.  I was amazed at the pageantry (in black and white) and the horses, and the drums. The drums.  Even writing those words brings the sound back into my head.  Bump Bump da Bump da da da da da Bump Bump da Bump.  Over and over. Goose bumps again

And that's when I started screaming. That night, or some night just after, I was dreaming I was riding in the car with President Kennedy. I hear a popping sound and the President's head tumbles on to my shoulder.  He screams something into my neck and I woke up screaming.  My parents had me sleep with them that night.  And I can replay that dream in a second.  I wish MS would find that memory and dump it, instead of the one that knows where my car keys are.

Sometime later my parents gave me a book (Tell Me Why series) about President John F. Kennedy. I kept that book for years.  Questions and Answers.  Where was he born? Who were his parents? What did he do? Why did Jack and Jackie dance to the Tennessee Waltz?  I was grateful for that, as well.  It turned me on to American history. So many stories to tell....

Now that I am eleven years older than JFK was when he died, its amazing how much living he put into his 46 years.  Yes, yes, he had his foibles and we know about the womanizing, blah blah, sell some books, or get them at the dollar store in a few years.  What matters is those two kids lost their dad.  Like my mother Marge lost her mother Frances when Marge was 37, or my two nieces and nephew lost their dad (ages 9, 14, and 16) - there he was, and then he wasn't  The guidepost was taken, whether by assassin's bullet or an aneurysm or the long stretched out death of cancer, and the nation, and my family were never the same.  But you go on, because you have to, and treasure what you got, because that's all you get.  Sometimes its the weight of those memories that slow us down and consider the road we are traveling.

But there were memories, and they remain.  My mother told me that I was very talented, though this may not be what she had in mind:

Yes, I am ironing.  Problem with that?  So early on I was a neat freak.  My mother was always washing and ironing clothes, so I thought I'd earn my keep.  The lady on the right in the picture is my father's mother.  That's a whole 'nother story.

Last year I gave list of what I am and am not grateful for.  I am grateful that my mind, damaged by MS, still lets me tell stories. And that I have my group of angels (some seen and some not) all about me to keep me hanging on. And I intend to hang on.  With only occasional screams.  Happy Thanksgiving.

" The work begins anew. The hope rises again. And the dream lives on."  Senator Edward Kennedy.  2008 Democratic National Convention


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