Sunday, February 12, 2012

Oh Barbara

So, I read through Once Upon a Secret by Mimi Alford this morning, as I said I would in yesterday's post.  Oh, Barbara, what are you getting your panties in a twist over?  What I read was a heartfelt reflection, a coming of age story.  It was how a girl became a woman under extraordinary circumstances.  Once Upon a Secret takes a look at how politics and charm pave ways that no one could ever imagine and yet new construction requires that some pieces be destroyed in the process.  Her whole adult life was changed by this one man.  We all have these people, good or bad, that shape our lives forever.

I give Mimi props for telling her story.  Sometimes secrets that are kept for so long eat away at your soul, destroying who you truly are, simply so you can keep your secret.  Mimi's secret ultimately lends itself to her first marriage slowly crumbling before her eyes.  The foundation was one of betrayal and secrets, pain and fear.  None of which lends itself to any sort of stable footing that a happy and successful marriage requires.  Such a start simply leaves the door open for the disintegration that was seen through Mrs. Alford's words.  

Why can she not share her story?  Is it really wrong?  Why is not simply seen for what it is - part of the healing process - acceptance?

It was a quick read.  It is a human face to the king of Camelot, devoid of the politics of the era.  The only mention of the Cuban Missile Crisis or the speech at the Berlin wall is from the point of view of a person, as opposed to the political agenda or possible ramifications.  Once Upon a Secret  is a moment of clarity that was put to paper.  Isn't that what I am doing here?  Is that not what most non-fiction truly is, although sometimes it has less emotional attachments to it, to be certain.  

So, Ms. Walters, I admire much of the work you have done over your amazing career, I truly do. But this is one of those times when I must follow a quote from Abraham Lincoln that I keep in my room, a sort of "practice what you preach" moment for me.  Directly across the room from my desk, I have one of the most non-nondescript posters in my classroom (especially when you consider that some are pictures of street graffiti).  Simply says, “I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”  Barbara, as much as I am in awe of the lives you have touched and the people you have influenced, this is one of those moments when I must separate from you, not that you will ever even know I posted this.  I must say I disagree with you.  Mimi has the right to speak about her experiences and her pain.  She has the right to heal.  She suffered many losses - her virginity, her youth, her marriage, all because of her meeting with JFK and was never allowed to properly grieve.  I am sorry if members of the Kennedy family are uncomfortable with discussions of the President's indiscretions.  I am sorry if you are uncomfortable with such discussions.  None-the-less, history happens.  It is our job to discuss history and learn from it, including the ugliest of moments.  I am a history teacher after all, we must learn from the mistakes of the past.  They brought us to where we are today and will lead us to where we go tomorrow.  
Time magazine, 1961

Peace to you Mimi.  You have earned it.
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