One of my earliest and most vivid childhood memories took place at our home in Boardman, Ohio. I had just turned five, and my family was preparing to move to a nearby town. The home we would soon be moving to was nestled among aunts, uncles, and cousins. I couldn’t wait.
On this particular afternoon, Mom was moving dishes and glasses from the china closet, to paper nests in sturdy boxes. As is probably quite typical of a five-year-old, I wanted to help. It seemed to me that everything my mother did was great fun, or an adventure in which I wanted to take part. I was enjoying the rustle of the newspaper, and watching how her “house dress” flowed as she worked. I recall a sunny day filled with feelings of love, security, and the excitement of what lay ahead.
As Mom packed, she was tuned in to either our radio or television (I don’t recall which), when her show was abruptly interrupted with news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. She immediately fell into a chair, as though the impact of the very message itself had thrown her there. It seemed it couldn’t have been any worse had her own brother been shot. I soon came to realize that Mom’s reaction was no different than that of the rest of the nation. Too young to grasp the significance of the Office, I didn’t really understand who President Kennedy was at the time. Because of the reaction of everyone around me, and snippets I remember from the news, it became obvious even to me that this was a remarkable and cherished person whose life had been senselessly cut short. My memories conjure up feelings of sympathy for young “John John,” who was even younger than I at the time of his father’s death. But mostly I remember my mother, who was in such a state of shock that it shook me to my core. The sadness and confusion I saw in her face nearly broke my heart.
This single event opened my eyes to the world around me. It was then I became aware that circumstances outside my home could have such an impact on my own.