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By Monica Wood

Winner of the 2012 Sarton Memoir Award

“Every few years, a memoir comes alongside that revitalizes the form…With beneficiant, exact, and unsentimental prose, Monica wooden brilliantly achieves this . . . When We have been the Kennedys is a deeply relocating gem!”—Andre Dubus III, writer of House of Sand and Fog and Townie

Mexico, Maine, 1963: The wooden kin is way like its shut, Catholic, immigrant pals, all depending on the fathers’ wages from the Oxford Paper corporation. but if Dad abruptly dies on his strategy to paintings, Mum and the 4 deeply attached wooden women are set adrift. When We have been the Kennedys is the tale of the way a kin, a city, after which a kingdom mourns and reveals the power to maneuver on.

“On her personal phrases, wry and empathetic, wooden locates the melodies within the aftershock of surprising loss.”—Boston Globe

“[A] surprise of storytelling, layered and wealthy. it really is, through turns, a chronicle of the well known paper mill that was once either delight and poison to a number of generations of a city; a tribute to the ethnic stew of immigrant households that grew and prospered there; and an account of 1 family’s grief, love, and resilience.”—Maine Sunday Telegram

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Bobby won’t go away her side,” she is going on, mopping her eyes. “Thank God she has him. ” We watch all of it: The president’s casket with its crisp, distressing flag. Weeping voters submitting previous of their textile coats and fogged-up eyeglasses and homely footwear. Jackie and Caroline kneeling to kiss the casket. Had we performed that? Kissed Dad’s casket? Monday brings the president’s funeral and burial, university closed, a countrywide day of mourning. On Tuesday we’ll go away for Baltimore and Our Nation’s Capital, that's steeped in mourning; we’ll leave out college altogether this week, extra time than we acquired for Dad. “Look, women, she’s placed her veil down now. She doesn’t wish humans to work out her face. ” the way in which she says it—people—makes me detect: people. no longer us. simply because we all know what’s below there. “Oh, these pricey teenagers. Little Caroline and John-John. ” Our opposite numbers. I drink them in. “She selected Arlington as the president was once a battle hero, women. That’s important—PT-109. do not forget that. ” We watch and watch: procession after procession, quiet yet for the sound of horses’ hooves and the heart beat percussion of muffled drums. New notice: caisson. I toy with a reminiscence of my making: Dad’s journey to the cemetery, led by means of a riderless horse like Black Jack prancing and shying at the back of a six-white-horse-drawn caisson. I invent Dad’s procession, Dad’s twenty-one-gun salute, Dad’s strangers from Detroit and la and Hartford and big apple keening into the cameras. Dad’s widow, a veil protecting the object she won’t permit humans see. New note: cortège. Mum slightly strikes from the brocaded footstool, the nearest seat to the television. We watch the funeral cortège, stirred through the pomp and rite, the slither of low black autos, the ocean of crosses at Arlington nationwide Cemetery, and Black Jack together with his polished hooves and not anything in his saddle yet a couple of shoes set backwards into the stirrups. Symbolic, Anne says. The chief shall now not trip back. She sits at the sofa with us, collecting us one-two-three. Mum gazes into the snowy gentle of the television, her lips relocating in prayer as she cries with Jackie. they can be sisters, conjoined of their loss. “The everlasting flame,” Mum murmurs. “That was once Jackie’s inspiration. She’s preserving his reminiscence forever. ” That’s what Mum had given Dad: “perpetual care. ” Which intended that St. John’s Cemetery may maintain the grass mowed for so long as the earth grew grass. “It capacity forever,” Mum provides, unnecessarily, because the be aware perpetual appears to be like in all of the prayers and part the hymns we’ve memorized considering the fact that we have been the right age to speak. “That flame won't ever, by no means be allowed to die, ladies. That’s how a lot she enjoyed him. ” Mum’s empathy for Jackie swells her eyes, yet underneath her unhappiness lies a profound reduction, for she’s harboring a mystery she’ll exhibit basically after we’ve lower back correctly from our journey. for 2 weeks now, her hours of darkness were stricken by an analogous brilliant, power dream: 3 small, gaping holes in a graveyard. What does this suggest? Dad’s PEI lore had brimmed with ghosts and superstition, the standard girls in gauzy nightgowns passing in the course of the partitions of snow-slumped farmhouses.

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