Letters To The Editor, 9th December 2015

Tragedies, now and then Sachithri Gayangika, Suva A great tragedy of the present day is how Members of Parliament (MPs), particularly the SODELPA and NFP   group vociferously opposed almost everything in
09 Dec 2015 10:30
Letters To The Editor, 9th December 2015

Tragedies, now and then

Sachithri Gayangika, Suva

A great tragedy of the present day is how Members of Parliament (MPs), particularly the SODELPA and NFP   group vociferously opposed almost everything in the 2016 Budget.

Why cannot people think a little of the country and not only of themselves and bear with the Budget?

If the present Government was extravagant on itself: joy rides to the hundreds and spiriting away billions of the country’s money, then such loud and disastrous belly aching is permissible.

Now with democracy restored and free speech unhindered, the jackals are howling. Shame!
Favourite topic

Give the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister time to set the country on the correct economic course, suffering a few privations.

That introduction was to say that this feline is sick of protests, pontifications, allegations and rank untruths being spouted.

I read of two new books out in America. So let me move away from topic of comment: politics.

An American tragedy perpetrated by one of its supposedly great men.

I read advertisements and a review on the next-to-newest book on Rosemary Kennedy, the eldest daughter of Joe and Rose Kennedy, and internet got to know much more than she had read earlier.

The book is by Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff titled ‘The Missing Kennedy: Rosemary Kennedy and the Secret Bonds of Four Women’. Out on sale on October 1, 2015, the author had access to hitherto unknown documentation and first-hand information. How come?

The author’s aunt: Stella Koehler, a charismatic woman of the cloth who became Sister Paulus Koehler with the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis of Assisi, was Rosemary Kennedy’s caregiver for thirty-five years.

A caregiver, tragically, had become necessary after Rosie, a slow learner prone to emotional outbursts, underwent one of America’s first lobotomies – an operation Joseph Kennedy believed would normalize Rosie’s life. It did not.
Grave injustice

Rosie’s condition became decidedly worse. The finger of accusation of a grave injustice, nay, near death dealing intervention could be pointed at Joseph Kennedy for ordering doctors to perform the lobotomy on the 23-year-old woman’s brain though warned of its uncertainty and danger.

He was unwilling to accept that anything could be wrong with his own flesh and blood, hence the inhuman step taken by him with none of the grown children in the large family of eight, and his wife, knowing about it.

He wanted to assure the success of the rest of the family without a daughter who could spoil things by becoming known as maladjusted, or worse pregnant.

So there definitely is doubt that he got the cruel drilling and tying of nerves on a conscious patient to be able to shut her away. This he did.

Rosemary (Rose Marie) Kennedy was the first daughter of the wealthy Bostonian couple who later became known as the patriarch and matriarch of America’s most famous and celebrated family.

After the procedure, Joe Kennedy sent Rosie to rural Wisconsin and Saint Coletta, a Catholic-run home for the mentally disabled.

For the next two decades, she never saw her siblings, her parents, or any other relative, the doctors having issued stern instructions that even the occasional family visit would be emotionally disruptive to Rosemary.

Following Joseph Kennedy’s stroke in 1961, the Kennedy family, led by mother Rose and sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver, resumed face to face contact with Rosie. She is supposed to have got upset and tried to hit her mother.

What makes this story especially haunting are the might-have-beens.

Rosemary’s problems began at her birth, on September 13, 1918.

Her mother’s first two children, Joe Jr. and Jack, had been safely delivered at home by the same obstetrician.

But when Rose went into labour with Rosemary, the doctor was not immediately available.

Although the nurse was trained to deliver babies, she nonetheless tried to halt the birth to await the doctor’s arrival, by ordering Rose to keep her legs closed and forcing the baby’s head to stay in the birth canal for two hours.

The baby was thus denied oxygen.
Passionate champion

Both stories are so sad, the earlier one particularly because the American girl was made to undergo a dangerous operation and then hidden away to ensure the sons becoming president and senators and such like.

But mercifully, due mostly to Eunice Shriver’s sympathetic reunion with her sister and encouraging the other two sisters to visit, both Jean and Patricia made amends as far as possible for their father’s ambitious hubris.

Horrified by what had been done to her sister, Eunice became a passionate champion for people with disabilities.

She persuaded her father to use his fortune to fund research, and after John F. Kennedy was elected president, she successfully lobbied him to set up government entities such as the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

She was one of the founders of the Special Olympics. Ted was only nine when the operation was done.

He too as Senator, sponsored Bills such as the groundbreaking Americans With Disabilities Act.

In 1974, more than 30 years after the lobotomy, Rose arranged for Rosemary to briefly leave the Wisconsin institution and visit her surviving family members in Hyannis Port.

The trip went sufficiently well and more reunions followed.

In 1995, at the age of 104, Rose Kennedy died.

A decade later, when Rosemary succumbed, at age 86, four of her siblings – Eunice, Jean, Pat and Ted – were by her side.

Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter’ also details the unfortunate Kennedy’s tragic operation and life, authored by Kate Clifford and out on sale on October 6 this year.



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