Happy Birthday Bobby
I haven’t blogged in months, because I haven’t had much to say. I attended the “One Nation” rally in DC on Oct. 2, but that did nothing to give me any confidence for what I knew lay ahead… and dispirited by the predictable results of the midterm elections, I’ve been more reserved than usual.
So I spent this weekend in DC again, as Bobby should have been 85 years old on November 20. The weather was beautiful, and for two days straight, the usual gawking crowds left me strangely alone. Since I discovered the joys of points/miles and the free or discounted trips they provide, I visit his resting place several times a year: on the anniversary of his passing, his birthday, and at least once in between (last year’s extra trip was for Teddy’s memorial/burial)–two visits per trip. It’s where I find my inner peace, my perspective. And I’ve never quite understood why some people come to Arlington National Cemetery and behave as if it’s an amusement park. There’s no respect for the nature of the place; no reason for being there except that the Tourmobile takes them there.
JFK’s gravesite is a favorite spot for tourists and to some extent I can understand that, but then they waddle on over to Bobby’s grave not because they know or care anything about him, but because it’s the next stop on the tour. It’s marked on their map, and so they go. There’s an obvious air of disinterest and apathy around most of these people; bored kids being dragged there against their will, foreign tourists, adults who have a vague knowledge that President Kennedy had some brothers, and this was one of them… look, there’s another one over there, that’s next on the map. I listen to the conversations and wonder what kind of vacuum these people grew up in, and why anyone would visit someone’s grave if not to pay respects. “This person died for you,” I want to shout at them. “Have you any idea how much he cared about all of you, and your children–especially your children–and how he knowingly risked his own life for your well-being? How he knew that it was only a matter of time before they got him too, but he did it anyway, because he cared about us that much? Go away, all of you! You are here for all the wrong reasons!”
But I don’t. I just listen to the idle chatter and the ill-informed “factoids” passed on from parent to child (“Mommy, why is his grave just a cross and stone, when his brother’s is so nice with the flame and everything?” “Because he wasn’t the president, so he doesn’t deserve a fancy grave”). I silently, inwardly try to mentally impart to that child that no, that’s not why. It’s because Bobby Kennedy was a humble man, and he wanted a humble grave. Next time, I want to advise the mother, just say “I don’t know.” It’s better than being so horribly, offensively wrong.
This weekend, however, was different. There were the usual crowds of disaffected tourists, but somehow I got an incredible amount of alone-time with him, more than ever. I’ve been a bit unhappy lately, and although I do a lot of talking with the men upstairs on a daily basis, I needed to have a one-on-one. And, miraculously, I was able to. On both days. The vultures descended on Jack as always, and even Teddy, but somehow they let me be for a change. Selfishly, that made me happy. Sorry, Jack and Teddy. But I really needed some time with your brother.
Now, I know he knows all this, because I like to think that once you get up there, you know everything… but still, I had to tell him that we need some help down here. Fast. Everything he worked for, everything he and his brothers lived and died for, is coming apart. This country is going backwards; back to a time when hatred, racism and selfishness were considered normal and right. The forces of evil are taking over again, and we really need some divine intervention here. Of course I tell him this often, but for some reason I needed to say it in person this time. And I did. Twice. In relative peace.
I also wished him a happy birthday, and hoped they were all enjoying a reunion with the recently-departed Ted Sorensen. Now that he’s gone too, and has the benefit of that “now you know everything” thing, he no doubt knows about My Ted Sorensen Story, one of the biggest “just kill me now” stories of my entire life. One day, people. One day.
Reprinted with permission from www.atinyrippleofhope.com
Follow Laurie on Twitter @LaurieInQueens .
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