Fathers and Daughters

19 11 2013

In memory of the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination, the women of Midlife Boulevard have dedicated November’s bloghop to our reflections on President John Kennedy. A bloghop is when a group of bloggers write on the same subject. The links to my friend’s blogs are at the end of this post.

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President Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline, and I are the same age.  So like me, she was a little girl when a bullet cancelled her father’s life. My main memory of this tragic event is of all the important adults in my life crying, which was unsettling to a small child. In watching the news on the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination it stated what we now know. The assignation was a mile marker in our young country’s life. It marked our loss of innocence. I remember my parents glued to the flickering black and white images on our television as the horrific news played out intimately in our living room. While commonplace now, the immediacy of this kind of news coverage was happening for the very first time in history.

Me in the early ‘60’s

Me in the early ‘60’s

Being only six, I did not relate to the before-Kennedy-was–shot-world the adults in my life would talk about for decades. I could, however, identify with Caroline, the President’s only daughter because she was my age. The images of her young life were similar to mine. They showed a smiling, loving, playful and doting father with his family. Photographs showed her playing in her Dad’s office, just like I played in my Dad’s shop as he worked. While it can be questioned if Kennedy was a good president or a good husband, no one questions that he was a good dad.

Caroline and I have shared the same cultural milestones throughout our lives; blowing out candles on a birthday cake, teenage prom pictures, friends together at the beach. Our college years had us both with long flowing hair, wearing jeans and the required graduation photo in cap and gown. Getting married as we became adults, having children and then pictures of our own young families.

As we entered midlife, we have both entered into unconventional relationships. While divorce rumors swirl around her, Caroline and her husband remain married, though it is reported that they live apart.  I entered a new relationship a few years after my divorce; we’ve chosen to live together and not get married.  Caroline and I are both apparently comfortable doing it our own way.

Me and my dad ‘65

Me and my dad ‘65

We have both reinvented our lives in our 50’s by learning to be true to ourselves. As her children have grown up and started their own lives, Caroline is leaving her old life behind and is now the new ambassador to Japan.  As I became an empty nester and newly divorced I moved forward with my life too. Certainly not as big as moving to another country with a powerful job, but I started a new business this past year and push myself to do things outside my comfort zone.  We are at an age where we are taking our life’s experience and energy and fearlessly embracing this next chapter.

I have not had the very public tragedies that have haunted Caroline’s life. Thankfully I had my father in my life well into my adulthood.  While Caroline’s and my life have been very different, our shared cultural milestones have always allowed me to relate to her and through her I see her father…the man who was once my President. My own dad had a personality that could fill a room and was known locally for the business he created—her dad inspired a generation and led a nation. To hear Caroline talk of her father, it’s readily apparent the real love and respect she has for him. And not as the legendary figure he has become, but as a real man…her dad. I believe both our father’s would be proud of the women we have become. The love they gave us has allowed them to live on through us.

I‘m a proud writer at Midlife Boulevard.

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29 responses

22 11 2013
Helene Bludman

Connie, I really enjoyed reading this. I share your memories of Caroline and her dad. I still love seeing pictures of them together, and I often think of her personal loss and how I admire the way she has led her life. Great post.

22 11 2013
conniemcleod

I always think Caroline has showed the same grace as her mother did in her life. I can’t imagine losing all those I love in such a public way.

22 11 2013
themidlifesecondwife

At first I thought the photo of the little girl in the white hat was Caroline! (And I love how you and I both wore white gloves in the pictures we posted on our blogs.) Yes…we did relate strongly to Caroline, didn’t we?

22 11 2013
conniemcleod

Yes indeed, we were dressed like all the little girls of our time. It does harken back to another era. Thanks for commenting.

22 11 2013
sulliv90

Thanks Connie for giving me another prospective on Carolyn. She has just struck me as someone who is very guarded and not very warm. Your prospective has changed the way I look at her and made me realize what she must have experienced. Thanks, Virginia

22 11 2013
conniemcleod

I always think while she has had a privileged life, it has been a hard life. She has lost those closest to her and in a very public way. I wish her all the success and happiness she can get.

22 11 2013
midlifecrisisqueen

Nicely drawn parallel between Caroline’s life and your own…

22 11 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Laura Lee.

22 11 2013
Sharon Greenthal

Wonderful post, Connie – I remember being fascinated by Caroline, a few years older than I, when I was growing up. The Kennedy mystique lived on long after the president was assassinated in our country – and still does. And I love that picture of you – how adorable!

22 11 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Sharon. Since I didn’t have the copyright to post any pictures of Caroline, I posted my old photos when I realized the era made us look similar.

22 11 2013
Renee Baribeau (@PracticalShaman)

Love your perspective. I never looked at it this way. It is a reminder that there was no father in my home at the time.

22 11 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Renee. I realize as an adult how lucky I am to have had the parents I had.

22 11 2013
Karen D. Austin

I am just four years younger, and somehow I missed out on the white gloves trend for Sunday dress. Interesting parallels, and a delightful photo of you with your dad.

22 11 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Karen. The white glove phase must have phased out around ’65. I see no more pictures of me in them after that. It does invoke that period of time, doesn’t it.

22 11 2013
Lisa Garon Froman

I love that photo of you….so precious. And I love the angle you took with this…wonderful. I always respected Caroline….And as for the white gloves…I remember wearing them at least through the second grade.

22 11 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Lisa, the white gloves are a sweet innocent memory of a gentler time.

22 11 2013
Cathy

I was always fascinated with Caroline, and loved the photos of her and “John-John” dancing in the Oval Office when Jackie was away. I am saddened to hear she is living apart from her husband. I thought, unlike a lot of Kennedy’s, that hers was a happy marriage. I clearly remember the day of her wedding, with Jackie beaming and walking in with Teddy. It was another Camelot moment. Great piece about a woman who has extraordinary grace and dignity. I was so happy to read about her upcoming ambassadorship.

22 11 2013
conniemcleod

Cathy, i agree, we did want a happy ending for her, didn’t we. But then again, maybe it is exactly the life she wants.

22 11 2013
nfhill

I am your age, and Caroline’s. White gloves and hats were not a part of my rearing other than at weddings, but I too walk my path in life with steps in synch with Caroline. I am somehow proud that she is in Government Service now.

22 11 2013
Kay Lynn

I’m a couple of years younger than you and Caroline but definitely can relate. It is sad that she and her brother had to grow up without a father but they had loving uncles who did a great job of standing in for him.

I love the picture you have with your hat and gloves and remember wearing the same. We got a new hat every Easter.

27 11 2013
conniemcleod

Kay, that probably was an Easter photo. Thanks for commenting.

22 11 2013
Lori Lavender Luz

I love the way you’ve drawn these parallels between your live and Caroline’s. And the pics of you are wonderful!

(And I really liked the comment you left me. Thanks, Connie.)

27 11 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Lori!

22 11 2013
Lois Alter Mark

Love this perspective. I’ve always admired Caroline’s grace and her ability to come through all the tragedy in her life. That picture of you on top is precious!

27 11 2013
conniemcleod

Thank ya ma’am, as we say down here in the south!

23 11 2013
Pat

This was a unique way of sharing your memory of the day Kennedy was shot. Like you, I would have been six years old at the time of the tragedy and all I can remember is a huge sadness surrounding me that I didn’t fully understand until I was much older. Love the photos too, Connie.

27 11 2013
conniemcleod

Pat, when this came up as a blog hop topic, the only way I could think of it was from this perspective. Thanks.

23 11 2013
lindalla

Even with access to 24/7 pictures and stories that we have these days, there’s still that Kennedy mystique!

27 11 2013
conniemcleod

you are so right.

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