the kennedy legacy…

…includes a belief in entitlement…and wanton womanizing.

I’ve read a number of biographies about the Kennedy dynasty. The latest, RFK Jr. – Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and the Dark Side of the Dream by Jerry Oppenheimer, is by far the most disturbing. The fact that he probably continues to live a life driven by the demons which have haunted many family members following in the footsteps of patriarch Joseph Kennedy, is downright scary.  Scary for those driven mad when they get tangled up with the Kennedys. A family living on the edge…pushing the envelope. I would even go so far as to say, Princess Diana’s embattled years with England’s royal family pale by comparison.

The Kennedy women, beginning with its matriarch Rose, turned a blind eye to the philandering of their men. Her husband, Joseph, carried on with Hollywood legend Gloria Swanson. President Kennedy followed suit by bedding tinsel town’s blonde bombshell, Marilyn Monroe, among many others. When he was done with her, he handed her off to brother Robert. Until he married his last wife, Vicky, Ted Kennedy was an infamous philanderer as well. Brother-in-law, actor Peter Lawford likewise cheated on Kennedy daughter Pat. Maria Shriver famously suffered the same fate when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was found to have fathered a child with their live-in housekeeper.

Whatever the reason…religion for Rose…wealth for Jackie…obsession for Ethel…naivete for Joan…family first for Pat and Maria…all these women enabled their husbands by their quiet subservience to the status quo. That they loved their husbands was beside the point. Their gilded trappings belied their comparable situation to ghetto women suffering the same fate at the hands of abusive husbands. The only difference is that the Kennedy women had the means to escape the trauma of their everyday lives.

Turning a blind eye to their husbands’ indiscretions fed these men’s sense of entitlement. With wealth and a wife to keep the home fires burning, they could confidently set about vanquishing the world beyond…especially women mesmerized by the Kennedy charisma.

What none of these couples seemed to consider was the serious effect their transgressions would have on their offspring.

For some philandering was like a right of passage.

Michael, the 6th child born to Robert and Ethel, carried on a 5-year relationship with babysitter, Marissa Verrochi…in front of his children. According to biographer Oppenheimer…

 

Michael Kennedy’s trip to rehab had followed within hours the shocking discovery by Vicki Gifford Kennedy of her husband in bed with Marisa Verrochi in one of the Kennedys’ spare bedrooms at their home.

Kennedy had blamed his drinking for his illicit affair with the teenage babysitter and family friend, and his wife believed him for the time being. …

Around that time, Michael Kennedy was caught stalker-like on a security camera breaking into the garage where the teenager kept her car. He left behind a bizarre offering–an “artificial penis” that he had attached to the windshield. …

Kennedy subsequently did a stint in an Arizona rehab center for his sex addiction, and he followed one of the rules set down for him: identify in writing the names of all of the women with whom he had had sexual trysts. (A few years later, Bobby, in a diary, would do something similar.)

When the sordid details of Michael Kennedy’s philandering were revealed, Vicki Gifford Kennedy–shocked by the number of women with whom he obsessively had had sex, some of whom she knew–took their children in the spring of 1997 and left him after sixteen years of a troubled marriage. …

Having turned eighteen and become a college freshman, Marisa finally decided to confess all to her parents. Her mother was so devastated that the next day she climbed to the roof of the trendy six-story Boston building where she and her husband had a chic apartment and threatened to jump. According to reports, a spokesman for the family denied that suicide was the motive.

Bobby Kennedy, Jr.’s history of womanizing rivals that of the elder Kennedy men.

With his diary entries, Bobby became the first Kennedy male known to have documented his philandering in writing, albeit in a private journal. His reputed womanizing forebears–the patriarch, Joe; his uncles JFK and Ted; and Bobby’s own father–had never done so.

Reading published portions of the diary, one might wonder whether Bobby inherited his uncle Jack’s affliction. As the president told power broker Bobby Baker, “You know, I get a migraine if I don’t get a strange piece of ass every day,” according to Seymour Hersh’s The Dark Side of Camelot.

The almost four-hundred-page diary had a legend. The number “10” represented women with whom he had had intercourse. Sixteen had fallen into that category. In one day alone, less than two weeks before he and his family celebrated Thanksgiving 2001, he documented that he had had three separate sexual encounters. That same month one woman’s name–only first names were written–was noted in the diary twenty-two times, and on thirteen consecutive days, the Post reported. …

In early November 2001–two months after 9/11–he wrote that he felt “great,” and went on to note, “So I’ve been looking for ways to screw it up. I’m like Adam and live on Eden, and I can have everything but the fruit. But the fruit is all I want.”

At another point, he boasted: “I have been given everything that I coveted–a beautiful wife and kids and loving family, wealth, education, good health and a job I love yet always on the lookout for something I can’t have. I want it all. No matter how much I have–I want more.”

Sadly, confronted by the reality of her husband’s womanizing,and his desire to end their marriage for another woman, Mary Richardson, his second wife, committed suicide on May 16, 2012. She was obviously not prepared to be left behind, even though Bobby had gotten her pregnant when he was still married to his first wife, Emily Black, whom he had also left to marry again.

One of the big shockers for Mary, a confidante maintained, was when she learned that Bobby was having an affair with the TV actress Cheryl Hines, who would become his third wife. It was a shocker because Mary claimed she had introduced Hines to Bobby at a charity event, although Bobby and Hines asserted that their friend the comedian Larry David had brought about the introduction. Still, Mary felt “very betrayed” by what she termed the “Sisterhood,” said a confidante. “The Sisterhood was very important to her–women sticking together, women supporting one another.”

Hines already was publicly boasting about her relationship with Bobby, which infuriated and humiliated Mary. Online, she saw that Hines had tweeted that she had become friends with one of Mary’s pals, the actress Glenn Close, and had bonded with Kerry Kennedy. [Bobby’s sister] She boasted on Twitter that she had become pals with Bobby’s then-eleven-year-old son, Aiden, talking football with him.

In the wake of Hines’s controversial and embarrassing tweets, an Internet commenter observed, “Was Hines so self-absorbed that she did not think her giddy and public celebration would have no effect on the woman left behind?

According to the N.Y. Post online article “43 Suspected Mistresses Found in RFK Jr.’s Phone,” dated 7/13/14,

Kennedy’s name was dragged into another divorce battle last month when he was alleged to be the “other man” in Kirwan’s divorce from plastic surgeon Laurence Kirwan.

Laurence Kirwan believed his 42-year-old wife was having an affair with Kennedy, whom she met at a Westchester gym, a confidant of the surgeon told The Post. The couple separated in July 2012, but Laurence Kirwan believed the relationship began several months earlier, while Richardson was still alive, the friend said.

Cellphone records showed Chelsea Kirwan and Kennedy spoke five times a day in the summer of 2012, according to the friend, who said Kennedy, 60, could be called as a witness in the divorce case.

Chelsea Kirwan is supposed to testify on July 22 in a Stamford, Conn., court hearing.

Her name and number were copied off Kennedy’s Sprint Samsung phone by Richardson.

When contacted by The Post, the mother of four asked to know where her name fell on the list and whether there was any notation beside it.

According to the Daily Mail’s online article “EXCLUSIVE: The wedding is still on: RFK Jr WILL marry Cheryl Hines despite affair allegations with surgeon’s wife.”

And so, it seems, Hines was willing to turn a blind eye to her fiance’s philandering…

…continuing in the kennedy family tradition.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

 

camelot revisited…

I’ve just concluded Jack and Jackie…Portrait of an American Marriage by Christopher Andersen. Published in 1996, it’s a biographical reflection of an iconic couple.

Why the love affair with individuals born into affluence and power, so far removed from those of us relegated to society’s lower stratosphere? Perhaps it’s through the celebrated we’re able to live out our fantasies, without having to deal with the inevitable pitfalls that accompany fame.

This particular biography, unlike others I’ve read about the Kennedys, puts a lot of meat on the bones of what others might have portrayed as mannequins in display windows.

The author’s concluding words summarize his adoit handling of two lives intricately intertwined. He gives us insight into a man and a woman, not unlike you or me. Only circumstances of birth and the resulting evolution of events, catapulted them into the spotlight.

Did Jack ever love Jackie? Patrick’s tragic death only a few months before the assassination was a pivotal event in the lives of the Kennedys, one that redefined the nature of their relationship. For the first time, Jack was able to reach out to his wife in ways he never could before. Did Jackie love Jack? There is no evidence that she ever stopped loving him.

Now that both Jack and Jackie are gone, perhaps the hysteria that enveloped them in life will be replaced with reason and understanding. Conceivably, we will be able to strip away the layers of hype and mystique to reveal the often vulnerable, tentative human beings underneath.

He was unquestionably a brilliant man whose vision of a better world continues to inspire millions. By virtue of her beauty, grace, and dignity, she is no less admired here and abroad. But to canonize them does us no less a disservice than to demonize them. For all their Olympian traits, Jack and Jackie argued over money, clothes, furniture, and in-laws. They grappled with infidelity, disease, and drug dependence. They fretted about infertility and childbearing, and both worried about and delighted in the children they had. They shared the death of one parent, the debilitating stroke of another, a miscarriage, a stillbirth, and the most crushing blow of all–the loss of a child.

They were nothing like us and everything like us. Theirs was an American marriage.

…thank goodness for writers…and the stories they tell…

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

meditation, “down time”, hope

My earliest memories of sitting through Sunday Mass as a child was leaning my butt against the bench, forehead  resting on folded arms on the pew back in front. Before long, my mom pinched my backside prompting an immediate reaction. I’d jerk into an upright position, sleepy eyes wide open if only for a few moments before I relaxed against the bench once again. At the time, the ceremonial ritualism was probably the only thing holding my attention: vestments embellished in gold and silver threads, exotic incense scenting the still air, angelic voices singing words beyond my comprehension. When the magic of showmanship wore off, however, boredom for adult activities quickly took over. Not understanding the Latin spoken by the priest, not seeing what he was doing with his back toward the congregation, and awaking early (never my strongpoint) made church attendance another chore. Didn’t I already have enough of those?

Attending a Catholic girl’s school meant Mass was a regular event, whether weekly or daily, I can’t remember which it was. The only time I was overwhelmingly grateful for the habit was when President Kennedy was assassinated. Upon learning that our Catholic president was dead, the entire student body and school administration filed mournfully into church, seeking comfort within its hallowed, marble walls. It was incomprehensible that the man seen by Americans to have ever-lasting youth and charming, good looks was forever gone. I’m certain school girls and women around the globe identified with Jackie as she bid farewell to her partner in “Camelot.”

Of course marrying the man of my dreams in a Catholic church was a coup of my own. I’d captured his heart and left “wannabe me’s” out in the cold, “eating their hearts out.” Being suppressed by the teaching of nuns didn’t mean my natural instincts were dead, sublimated maybe, but not extinct. Knowing how to catch a mate is in the genes, having been passed down through the ages, beginning with Eve. Our wedding Mass was beautiful, like millions of others before and since. What made ours special was the ensemble of friends from my husband’s seminary days who accompanied the ceremony with song and music. Con-celebrating the Mass were 3 priests, the church’s pastor, a priest who’d known my husband since childhood and a priest who’d been an instructor at the seminary. Having grown up in awe of the religious, I felt privileged to have so many witness my humble marriage. And humble it was for a friend of my mother-in-law’s made my simple gown, another fashioned my bridal bouquet, I made my own headdress as well as my bridesmaid and flower girl’s dresses, our few wedding pictures were taken by my sister and a friend of my husband’s, and we paid $75 for the Chinese food prepared by my sister-in-law’s mother-in-law, a caterer. The reception was held on the rectory lanai, since my mother-in-law worked part-time for the priests. Less than 100 guests visited, and ate with us. There was no music, no band, no dancing. But still a very happy occasion, especially for my husband and I who were grateful to be starting a new life together.

Baptizing our only child in a 100-year-old country church was another dream come true. A miracle baby after a fruitless 16 years of marriage, she was a welcome addition to our relationship. Raising her as a member of the church family meant our daughter had many who cared about her welfare. They followed her growth, were swayed by her charms, bestowed her with tokens of their love, and baby-sat when asked. She learned at an early age that the church was a place of solace from the oft-times unfriendly, “rat race” in which we all find ourselves entrenched.

Church has been, and always will be, a welcoming environment where our family de-stresses and decompresses. Sitting quietly, emptying our minds of worldly cares, providing a blank slate for spiritual thoughts, opens us up to compassion for our fellow-men and women, and restores our positive energy through hope. Humbled before our Creator, we feel His benevolence and forgiveness. All He asks in return is that we continue in our attempts to live our best lives according to His tenets. We are asked to be Christ-like towards all species of His magnificent creation.

Every Sunday, I recommit to being the best I can be, and doing the best I can do. But what older age and experience have taught me is to “cut myself some slack.” Throughout the years I’ve done what everyone is prone to do, “beat myself up” over what I perceive as failings. Habitually seeking approval engenders self-deprecation, which engenders low self-esteem, which engenders dissatisfaction with one’s life, which can harm loving relationships. I came to realize that the latter were what mattered most in life. So preserving them became my life’s purpose. Shedding negativity in my surroundings, including persons who cared little for my well-being, was a necessity. Therapists may call it self-survival; I call it loving myself.

It seems from an early age we learn not to love ourselves. Why is that, I wonder? Against what image of perfection are we measured?  Is it something our parents or others instill in us, consciously or unconsciously? Or is it our own perceptions of what others want us to become, or not become? Whatever the answers, we seem to steamroll through life accumulating so much negativity, toward ourselves and others. There are positive moments for sure, but they can be overwhelmed by the “luggage” we drag around with us, so that peeling through the layers of bad stuff can wear us down, physically, mentally and spiritually. At some point we MUST erect a barrier against more negativity, begin discarding the “baggage”, and replace it with mountains and mountains of positive experiences. These eventually become the thoughts and memories with which we occupy our lives. When negativity seeps back in, we must fight back, never again letting it gain a foothold.

All easier said than done, but so necessary for our own happiness and well-being, as well as the happiness and well-being of those we love. Of great consequence to them is that we fight to love ourselves. Value yourself, and you value them. Isn’t that all God asks of us?

compassion and hugs, for ourselves…and others…hugmamma.