Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Rosemary: the Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson, 302 pages

Rosemary Kennedy was born during the flu epidemic 1918.  Why did that matter?  She was born at home and the doctor who was supposed to deliver her was busy dealing with the flu.  A nurse helping Rose Kennedy give birth to her third child and first daughter physically held the head of baby Rosemary and forced her to stay in the birth canal for two hours, while they waited for the doctor to arrive.

Rosemary was a beautiful baby, child and young woman but she was developmentally disabled and never read or wrote beyond about a 4th grade level.  She struggled to keep up with her high achieving siblings.   As she got older, she became harder to control and deal with.  Her father, hearing of the wonders of lobotomies and how docile patients were afterwards, decided that Rosemary should have a lobotomy when she was 23.  The surgery was not a success and damaged Rosemary both physically and mentally.  Rosemary, who had never been institutionalized, spent the rest of her life in an institution.

Her siblings did not know for many years what had actually happened to her.  The tragedy of her own life inspired her siblings, nieces and nephews to help others with developmental disabilities.

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