27 August 2009

The Political is Personal, or, Teddy, My Daughter Hardly Knew Ye

Curious Girl and Politica are out of town now, and I knew they weren't listening to a lot of news together, so when we spoke first thing yesterday morning, I told Politica about Ted Kennedy's passing. Curious Girl was, unsurprisingly, curious about Senator Kennedy, and she's been peppering me with questions about him: what time did he die? Did he say anything before he died? What kind of good ideas did he have? It surprises me, a bit, still, how she creates such personal connections to figures in the world.

Senator Kennedy was still on her mind this morning:

CG: Mama, the one who died, the president....
me: Senator Kennedy, you mean?
CG: Yes, Senator Kennedy. I'm wondering if he is still at his house, dead.
me: Actually, he's not. He was so important for so many people that they are taking his body to Boston.
CG: Boston?!?
me: His brother was President Kennedy (she knows President Kennedy because we have his picture on two plates in our kitchen), and there is a special library/museum in Boston all about President Kennedy. We can go there when you are older. Senator Kennedy is there now so that people can go visit him, and then there will be a big celebration of his life on Saturday. President Obama is coming back from his vacation to speak at the celebration.
me: That would be very special, but the celebration will be for people in Senator Kennedy's family and people who knew him and worked with him.
CG: I want to go! We could meet Barack Obama in person!!
me: It would be great to meet President Obama, but we can't meet him in person at the celebration.
CG: But there might be cookies!
me: they will probably have food afterwards for all the people who loved Senator Kennedy, but we can't just go and meet President Obama. It just doesn't work like that.
CG: But we went to Tante Mississippi Friend's after.
me: That's because Uncle Quiet was in our family, honey. We don't know President Obama and Senator Kennedy. They will probably show the celebration on TV or we can watch it on the computer.
CG: I can see it?!
me: Yes, we can look for it.
CG: I wonder whether the Senator had a bad sickness.
me: Yes, he had the same kind of bad sickness that Uncle Quiet had.
CG: That's very bad.
me: Tante Mississippi was a little extra sad, I think, when she heard about the Senator.
CG: Why?
me: I think she was probably remembering Uncle Quiet's brain cancer and feeling sad.
CG: Do you think she cried enough to make a river in her house?
me: I didn't ask her that, but I think she probably didn't cry that much, but she might have cried a little.
CG: I want to go to the celebration and get cookies.
me: Well, we can make our own cookies and have a celebration for the Senator.
CG: No, for Cat Who Died Last Fall. Will the Senator's mother be at his celebration?

The hopes, dreams, and love of a child, who just amazingly and perfectly--although I don't know that my transcription quite captures it--weaves together her family, her politics, and people she misses.


Michaela said...

I love her thought process throughout -- and can see my own girl processing things in a similar way when she gets a bit older.

I didn't realize that Uncle Quiet had the same kind of cancer... or maybe it just didn't make an impression on me at the time. An old friend's father was just diagnosed with it as well, and Kennedy's death has been especially hard for her family -- makes it hard to imagine a more hopeful outcome for him, you know?

Magpie said...

Beautiful. It's amazing to "watch" them think and put stuff together.

Phantom Scribbler said...

It's really adorable, how open she is to taking public figures into her heart. Especially when there might be cookies involved!

Songbird said...

Gosh, the way kids connect things. It is amazing.

S. said...

Heartbreaking and heartwarming.

Jody said...

How very sweet, and sad, and wonderful that you remember it so well.

Wilder has been very anxious lately that he and I die on the same day, when we are old. I have tried to explain that I want him to outlive me by at least 30 years, because I was 30 when he was born, but he neither understands my reasoning nor finds the thought remotely pleasant to think of. I thought of that, reading CG's last comment here, about Senator Kennedy's mother.

My heart breaks a little more for Jean Kennedy Smith.

kathy a. said...

very sweet, your girl is.

liz said...

You've got a wonderful girl there.

Bardiac said...

My first memory is of watching JFK, Jr at his Dad's funeral. My Mom told me that his dad had been killed, and I worried for months that someone would kill my dad. Thinking of him as a dad made the connection for me, at an age when I had no idea what a president was.

I bet CG remembers this is 20 years. You did a great job explaining.