I went for a long, early morning stroll on Christmas Day. Nothing was open, the streets were still. It’s the one day a year one could cut the silence with a cleaver.
As I was coming from the West Side to the East I see the back of a slender woman up ahead walking her dog. There was something familiar about her but I was still too far away to tell what that was.
As I got closer I knew right away. It was Caroline Kennedy. I’ve seen her many times before since she lives not far from me, but never when it was this intimate…just the two of us and this blissful quiet we were both basking in.
Such a rarity in New York City.
I’ve been often told I resemble her mother usually when I’m wearing my big sunglasses. What people don’t realize is, the reason I choose lenses that size was the same reason she did. Nothing smaller covers eyes that far apart. I love Raybans for instance, but look like an insect in a pair because they don’t span the width of my face.
As I approached her she glanced at me out of the corner of her eye. Without intruding I said, “Merry Christmas,” as I passed. “Merry Christmas,” she said, giving me a fast grin. I gave the dog a quick pat on the head the way I would if he belonged to anybody.
I did, however feel a sensation the same as when I visit a famous landmark or pay homage at someone’s grave. In her case though it was a little different…
she’s history with a heartbeat after all
She’s also the last one standing of her tribe. Yes she has kids but her nuclear family is all gone leaving her as their one remaining representative.
All sorts of images flashed through my mind like a historic sideshow. I saw her and her brother playing beneath their father’s desk in the Oval Office and another of him holding her hand as they crossed the White House lawn. I saw her at her Dad’s funeral this time clutching her mother’s hand right before John gave his famous salute.
I skipped to the time I sat next to her in a coffee shop remembering she had grilled cheese while I hardly touched my salad ruminating over her and her family.
Then there was how sad she looked for so long after John died. Something seemed to be missing from that famous Kennedy equanimity they all are known to possess.
That’s the other thing that always strikes me. She looks like her father…she has that sharp Kennedy chin with her grandmother Rose’s smile that crinkles up her eyes making her look 12 despite her 55 years. Yet, she carries the essence of her mother in her body language…her gait and easy stride…the way she always appears unhurried and oblivious to who she is and to all those who remember, with resounding reverence, both of her parents. Even from the back before she turns it could be Jackie you’re about to see, the way her hair flips when it gets a little long; the perfect posture that doesn’t quit.
DNA – the carrier of genetic information. It’s fascinating, isn’t it?
The other thing that I took away was her awe-inspiring, chronic strength. How does one bury a mother and a brother, a beloved uncle you could always count on…cousins and their wives who commit suicide? And so publicly.
they all had, both sides of her lineage…
That to me is their true legacy…
that will undoubtedly also be hers.