big brother holding little brother

The hope of birth as big brother holds the newest addition to the Romick family in 1963.


December 20, 2013  Fifty years ago Alzheimer’s was the last thing on my mind – AD was a disease we hardly knew the meaning of  as I dressed my four-year-old for a full day of errands beginning with shopping at one of the recently opened stores at the mall.  In addition to present buying I had purchases to make for the arrival of our expected baby due just before Christmas.  My time was getting close and there were dozens of things to do.

This year marks the anniversary of that year:1963.  My youngest son will celebrate his 50th birthday this very day, so it is understandable that I remember well the end of November, the year he was born.


The question is often posed with significant and/or historical anniversaries:  Where were you on November 22,  1963 and what were you doing.  With my small son Keith I was striving to finish my Christmas shopping.  Expecting a baby the week before Christmas  I knew my list had to be completed well before the baby arrived.  If not, the jolly old elf would be totally unprepared come Christmas Eve.   Ken loved the festivities, even the shopping and the holiday itself, but never to pick up where I left off, let alone do the major buying by himself.   I always bought throughout the entire year and squirrelled the gifts away to wrap in December.  The buying of last-minute gifts was a together thing, so I knew that Ken would be somewhat helpless in the finishing up of the entire Christmas project.   Wrapping was also something he didn’t do; rather he would probably just hand out presents still in the bags from the stores where they had been purchased.


As my little boy and I wandered through the store I was aware of a strange silence hanging in the air as if someone had turned off all sound throughout the store.  No happy chatter of Christmas, no carols could be heard, no clanging of cash registers, no noisy shoppers and no sounds whatsoever of the season – only a thick, dark silence.  Then we passed a display of television sets where shoppers had gathered.  At first I thought they must be tuned in to a very old movie about Lincoln’s assination because there was talk of the president being shot.


It came to me like a bolt of lightening.  It wasn’t a movie they were watching, it was the news and the journalist was reporting late-breaking news that President John Kennedy had been shot.  Like my fellow shoppers, I was shocked leaving my shopping cart where I was standing.  Feeling jolted with disbelief I took my young son by the hand and headed out the door. I just wanted to leave and go home where it was safe.


We left the store without my chosen gifts. They were no longer important. Getting into the car I was turning toward the exit when I noticed another car backing up and coming full speed in my direction.  Before I could sound the horn the driver crashed into the passenger side of my my small station wagon. 

Leaping from her vehicle the driver apologized profusely exclaiming that she was so upset by the news she hadn’t been watching where she was going. 

“Mom,” shouted Keith filled with enthusiasm, “Were we in a wreck?  Wow!  We were in a wreck!”  Even before I checked the other side of the car for damage Keith was having the most thrilling day of his life because we had been in a wreck. His young, uncomprehending  mind did not grasp the unbelievable news we had heard in the store.  The woman and I exchanged insurance information and she accepted all responsibility, once again voicing her apology, we went our separate way.    


Somehow, completing my shopping was no longer important.  Instantly our nation had been thrust into a day of loss followed by days of mourning and grief as the United states suffered the loss of its president which was felt throughout the entire world as messaes of empathy, sympathy. condolences, outrage and shock poured into the White House for two young children who had lost their father and for a beautiful young wife who was now a widow.  Meanwhile, flags dipped to half-mast as America wept.


Early in the morning of December 20, 1963 my labor began and Ken drove me to the hospital.  Several hours later we welcomed another son, Kenneth, Jr.  Three days later we brought our new baby home to his welcoming siblings. Christmas that year was our best Christmas ever. My new son was like a personal gift from God.  This year that same son will celebrate his half-century mark, and at the same time we, as a nation, are reminded of the tragic death of John Kennedy and the ramifications that followed, and now we watch in dismay at our country’s  precarious and fragile place in the world under a new and different administration.

 Fifty years ago the Christmas Season brought hope to all because of the celebrated birth of the Savior of the World, and with every baby who is fortunate enough to be born, there is with that new life hope for the betterment of mankind.  They do grow up and just as my child is a good, kind and serving individual, each child holds that same potential:  So as we pray for Peace on Earth, good will to men, we can be assured that there is still hope in a troubled world. And to my son, Happy Birthday, and to all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  May peace and prosperity be at everyone’s finger tips this coming 2014.

Originally posted 2013-12-22 20:35:22.


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