The Ocean Fountain
Senator Ted Kennedy, was one of nine siblings… and as Obama said "he was defender of a dream"… The last lion of his brothers… He followed his youngest sister Eunice two weeks after her passing.
On vacation homeland, while visiting Cape Cod hospital in Hyannis several times this summer, due to different family members’ hip and knee accidents, we noticed there were photographers waiting for hours outside as Eunice Kennedy Shriver was struggling in her last days. She was a soul full of caring throughout life, amoung other social work, founder of NICHD, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. I imagined then how hard it must have felt for all the Kennedy family and ailing Ted Kennedy, knowing how brief time is. Inside the hospital where my mother had a room on her wing, we commented with nurses about the intrusion of cameras during such a private moment. Later that same day before Eunice Shriver died, we visited the John F. Kennedy memorial fountain after the hospital visit. It was surrounded by roses, looking out over the open ocean, near a gentle beach where many families were swimming and children playing. I threw three velvet red rose petals I found on the grass into the fountain, and watched them float over the pennies strewn at the bottom, thinking of “three as sacred". It was so hot and sweaty, those recently lived August days on Cape Cod. But the ocean wind was soft and the sky full of sun and small puffs of white clouds.
Next to John Kennedy’s memorial is a Korean War memorial. There were many somber visitors taking photos. I closed my eyes a moment for my Korean friends far away. I thought of my old loved ones tragically changed by the Vietnam War, where so many were lost. There was also a man selling JFK hats. In my imagination, he looked and smiled like a Kennedy. It somehow made me think of Ted Kennedy, the youngest brother- wondering what he would act like selling hats, the fun he might have. I thought what that smile from the man meant to me and how a moment can stand still with a smile- all the different smiles there are in the world. I thought how I would chat with people if I sold hats, or juggle them, (if I could juggle better) were I sitting alone like the man. How many different hats in the world there are, I mused. I wish I had spoken with the man, more than just “hello”, passing, smiling. Nor did I have change in my pocket for a hat. I noticed he looked at peace with life. I thought about the privilege and brave humanity in these Kennedy siblings, the great lion passion to fight for a cause and defend a cause. I also thought of my nephew’s beautiful shining smile, before he was lost to Afghanistan this year. How can we ever understand the conviction that makes a beloved and talented young man of 25 volunteer as a Marine, – only to be killed by an anonymous roadside bomb? Some do not fear death, risking sacrifice for a greater good, hoping that good will prevail. Others choose ahimsa. Many are cynical about one or the other, or both. Some sell memorial hats with great care. What is is. The changes we make in life are born in spirit and the bugle calls, beyond judgments.
I thought of my paternal grandfather in NY passionately discussing politics, what is right or wrong. How humanly we all make mistakes, are judged or haunted by them and grow from them. A dear friend of mine who once worked for Ted Kennedy confided to me about how fiercely the senator could fight for just causes. I remembered friends who would write to him, fighting for such causes. He worked hard and did uphold the hope of many. I know, perhaps like many, I felt him as one of us, in his voice ardently supporting Obama, urging change forth. I felt pride in how he spoke out. Obama faces daunting challenges, just as JFK did in his time. Certainly throughout history, those who have made sacrifices and pathways hoping for a greater good remind us all to reach out and share our concerns, our tears, and our burdens. We ought never to give up hope to create change for paths of justice, goodness, learning, environmental responsibility, health and peace. There at the ocean-side fountain memorial, I imagined all the fountains of life that flow when children grow up playing and laughing, knowing the meaning of true caring and feeling loved.
Something Deepak Chopra recently wrote spoke to my feeling of this place by the ocean, or this place of our lives as we pass by:
“My silent observer transcends my individual identity. It is the witness that was there before I was born and will be there after I die”.