Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Year in Review

Yikes -- where did 2015 go?? It's time for another Year in Review post!

I started doing this year-end meme five years ago -- and, although I feel like many of the answers don't change much from year to year, it's still a great way to look back and keep track. Feel free to use the questions on your own blog (& let me know if you do!).

1. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

As I have said in the past, I don't really make new year's resolutions anymore -- they tend to be pretty much the same ones, year after year. So here are the perennials, and the progress I made (or didn't) in 2015:
  • Lose weight.  Alas, I am more or less the same weight as I was this time last year... I go up a few pounds, I go down, I go up again. :p  I did buy a new digital scale, which will hopefully help in terms of accuracy.   
  • Exercise more. (And hopefully lose more weight...!)  We weren't quite as consistent with our morning walks this year during the spring/summer/fall (perhaps one reason why the scale hasn't been going down :p ) -- and since the advent of colder & wetter weather, we haven't been out walking much at all. I am planning to look into yoga classes at the local rec centre in the new year to help bridge the activity gap until the nicer weather returns. Last winter I spent entirely too much time sitting on the couch. :p  
  • Write more in my journal (blog??). Haven't written in my paper journal in years. Blogging: Being unemployed has been good for my blogging output as well as weight loss.  I wrote 150 posts in 2015 (including this one), the most I've written since 142 posts in 2009 (my all-time high is 172 posts in 2008, my first full year of blogging). And I reached a milestone: 1,000 posts!!       
  • Read more of the books that have piled up around the house. (Need to do better at this... the faster I read, the more I buy, it seems... yikes!) I racked up my best "books read" count since I started keeping track a few years ago: 27. :) I've reviewed all of them on this blog except the most recent one I finished (a review is coming shortly). And I'm almost through another one, which will be #28 for 2015 or #1 for 2016, depending on whether I finish it tonight. ;)      
  • Tackle some of the clutter that never seems to go away. ("Some" being the operative word...)  This is one resolution where I can say I have made significant progress! Over the past year, dh & I (well, mostly dh) have hauled almost 60 (!!) boxes (liquor store-sized cartons) of stuff to the local Salvation Army thrift store -- which includes almost 40 boxes of books alone. I did not count the many, many bags of clothes and other things that also went to the Sally Ann. I also gave my old stereo, vinyl collection and cassettes to our oldest nephew and a ton of my scrapbooking/craft supplies to his fiancee. Giving up stuff (& especially books) is very hard for me, and I am proud of what I accomplished this year. I still have stuff, of course -- more than I probably need -- but there is a lot less of it, and it is neater and better organized.
  • Finally do something with the spare bedroom that was to have been the nursery (get new furniture & linens to replace dh's college apartment castoffs).  I did get a new bedspread several years ago, and there's now a fresh coat of pain on the walls, but new furniture is still on the to-do list... 
  • Set aside the nephews' scrapbooks for awhile, & start a scrapbook for dh & me (that will hopefully be finished in time for our 25th anniversary in 2010). And maybe (finally) start Katie's, too. Sadly, I have not done any scrapbooking since fall 2009.  I have more time now (& still have a TON of supplies to use...! -- even though I gave a bunch to Oldest Nephew's fiancee), so I am hoping to carve out some regular time for scrapbooking into my schedule in the new year. (Besides which, I'd better finish the nephews' books before any great-nieces and nephews start showing up!)  ;)   
2. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before?

Nothing really earth-shaking stands out. :p

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Nope, no new babies in my circle of close family & friends.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Sadly, SIL's mother (our nephews' grandmother) died in late February. 

5. What countries did you visit?

Did not leave Canada this year. :(

6. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?

To travel!! Even just close by. I loved getting away for our anniversary for a few days at a resort in cottage country. Maybe next year... :p 

7. What date(s) from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Our 30th wedding anniversary. :)

For less happy reasons: Dh's emergency trip to the hospital. :p

The day (quite recently) when Nephew #2 popped the question to his girlfriend & got engaged. :)

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting to enjoy more of the Christmas season than I have in YEARS.

9. What was your biggest failure?

Not speaking my mind enough, and drifting instead of taking the initiative to get things done that I wanted to do.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Thankfully, no. A bit of a cold recently, & assorted aches & pains, but nothing that a couple of ibuprofen and some rest couldn't fix. 

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Loving our new car. :) That was probably our most major purchase this year.

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

Our new prime minister. I don't think he's the Second Coming (in a religious, political or genealogical sense, lol).  He's going to screw up, eventually. To be honest, I don't get the whole "hot" thing. (He's nice looking, for sure, but "hot"??) And frankly, it's rather disconcerting to have a prime minister who is not only a decade YOUNGER than you are, but whose birth you clearly remember...! But the change in tone from the top has been most welcome. And anyone who promises gender equity in his new cabinet -- and then delivers on that promise, with some exceptional choices -- and justifies that decision by saying, "Because it's 2015" -- deserves some kudos. :)

Members of the Ontario legislature from all parties, who passed Bill 141 to provide more research into pregnancy loss and more support for affected families. 

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed?

While some politicians did deserve kudos this year (see #12, above!), politicians (from both sides of the border) continue to top my "appalled and depressed" list. :p  With an election here this past fall, and one coming up in the U.S. next year, there has been no shortage of appalling & depressing behaviour, it seems. :p

14. Where did most of your money go?

As usual, beyond the essentials of daily living, and savings, our biggest indulgence is probably reading materials -- books & magazines. And as mentioned above, we also bought a new car, which was a big chunk of money to shell out all at once. :p

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Younger Nephew's engagement, just before Christmas. :)

Seeing the Little Princesses at Christmastime. :)

16. What song will always remind you of 2015?

I can't think of an obvious candidate.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?

About the same, across the board. 

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Travelling -- even just within driving range. Maybe next year.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Two years ago, I said, "Worrying. It never does much good anyway..." I said the same last year, and I think I need to remind myself again this year...!  :p 

20. How did you spend Christmas?

In the usual way:  with my family (my parents, sister & her boyfriend).  Lots of visits from the Little Princesses, lots of good stuff to eat, lots of fun card games.

21. Did you fall in love in 2015?

Never fell out. ; )

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Poldark! I also (still) love The Big Bang Theory, Bob's Burgers and Modern Family.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you did not hate this time last year?

As I've said before, no. Hate is a pretty strong word. Although there are certainly some people I think less of than others. 

24. What was the best book you read?

I read a lot of good books this year -- primarily memoirs. The one that has stayed with me the longest, I think, and one that I have probably talked about & recommended the most, is They Left Us Everything by Plum Johnson.  Not sure about its availability outside of Canada, but definitely worth a read.

Honorable mentions:
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

As in the past, I must admit, I don't listen to a lot of new music...

26. What did you want and get?

More Christmas-y experiences this year:  Black Friday shopping with SIL, Swedish Christmas festival, craft show with my girlfriend, Toronto Christmas Market with dh, BIL & SIL (as well as Oldest Nephew & his fiancé), Christmas shopping by myself at the Toronto Eaton Centre -- all stuff I didn't have time to do when I was working. Made the season much merrier, and got me into the Christmas spirit early on. :)

27. What did you want and not get?

Still waiting on that sunspot vacation. ;) And there's a pair of earrings that I've looked at & passed up on, several times, even when they've been on sale. I swear next time I see them, I'm buying them. :p

28. What was your favourite film of this year? 

We saw 23 movies in 2015 and they were all pretty good.  (We're planning to see the new Star Wars movie on New Year's Day.) The one that was probably my favourite was the one we saw most recently:  "Spotlight." Great cast, great story, great script. A strong contender for the Best Picture Oscar. The runner-up would probably be "Inside Out" from this past summer. Not really a kid movie, and one that made me cry.

Other movies dh & I went to the theatre to see in 2015 (working backward from most recent -- all of them good):  SPECTRE, Steve Jobs, Bridge of Spies, The Martian, Everest, Mr. Holmes, Ricki & the Flash, Man From UNCLE, Trainwreck, Minions, Love & Mercy, Spy, Tomorrowland, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Woman in Gold, Casablanca (yes, THAT Casablanca...!), Birdman, Kingsman, Selma, Wild, The Imitation Game.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

I was 54, and we went to our favourite steakhouse for dinner. Freedom 55, coming up shortly...!

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A little less anxiety, from both dh & me. Much of it was totally unnecessary -- but then, anxiety is rarely rational, is it?

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2015?

I spend most of my days in yoga pants & T-shirts, lol.  So I'm not sure I have a "personal fashion concept"??! 

32. What kept you sane?

Staying busy and getting out of the house most days, particularly during the LONG winter. :p

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

This was another one I had to think about... no obvious candidates yet...!

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

The plight of the Syrian refugees, and the demonization of immigrants generally (here in Canada, as well as in the U.S.), bothered me a lot this year. Unless you're from an indigenous/aboriginal tribe, all of us in North America are descended from immigrants -- some of us more recently than others -- and many families (including my own, & dh's) have their own stories about ancestors & family members who were vilified and mistreated by those who came earlier.

35. Who did you miss?

As always, my daughter, and my grandparents.

The Little Princesses.  Only getting to see them twice a year, and occasionally on Skype, sucks. :p Time goes by too quickly, and they are growing up way too fast. :(

My childhood best friends. Had a wonderful visit with them when I was home this summer, and realized how much I miss them and that I really don't get to see enough of them. :(

36. Who was the best new person you met?

I really haven't met an awful lot of new people, aside from one-offs. So I will have to think about this one too.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2015. 

When painting & doing other renovations... go with your gut instinct (despite the painter's assurances). Use the dropcloths!!  ;)

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"Time keeps on slipping, slipping... into the future..."  ("Fly Like an Eagle," Steve Miller Band -- an oldie but a goodie that seems appropriate) ;)

New Year's Eve 2007
New Year's Eve 2008
New Year's resolutions for 2009
New Year's resolutions for bereaved parents
New Year's Eve 2009
New Year's Eve 2010
Year in Review 2011

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Post-Christmas odds & ends

  • I'm back! (Did you notice I was gone?) I was visiting my parents over Christmas, & computer time was hard to come by -- at least the kind where I could sit & think & read & write in long, uninterrupted stretches of time.
  • Sometimes, I think that's a good thing -- to have a bit of a break. ;)
  • I had a nice visit with my family, spoiled two adorable little girls, played lots of cards and ate way too much great food (and actually came home one pound lighter than when I left...!). 
  • I had a few wistful moments, seeing the little girls in their holiday finery and (especially) seeing dh having a blast with them. All the "what ifs" and "if onlys." Only a few moments, but yes, they still happen.
  • (ETA:)  I was tickled that among the Christmas photo cards I received this year, there were several from my childless/free friends, of themselves and their husbands. They are proudly displayed on my fridge, alongside the usual ones of my friends & cousins and their kids. :)  
  • I finished one book & got most of the way through another. Reviews to come.
  • Also coming up shortly: 2015 Year in Review post. :)  
  • I hope the holidays have been kind to you (and maybe even a little fun :) ).

Friday, December 18, 2015

"Let go of the life we have planned"

Found this on Facebook. :)
One of my all-time favourite quotes (it's in the sidebar of this blog)
and (I think) very applicable to childless/free living after loss & infertility.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


This post marks a major, major milestone for me and for this blog. This is my 1,000th post!!!

1,000 posts in a little over 8 years -- that's pretty amazing.

Sometimes I find it hard to believe -- that I have been blogging for more than 8 years, that I have written this many posts, that I am still -- at almost 55 years old, 17 years post-stillbirth and more than 14 years post-infertility treatments -- finding things to write about (and in fact, I've written more posts this year than I have since 2008, my first full year of blogging).

Granted, I have gradually started writing about more than just loss & infertility. I also write about the books I've read (whether or not they're ALI-related), current events, things that have been happening in my life (renovations, new appliances, etc.).  My blog, my rules, lol.

But the vast majority of my posts (still) have at least some sort of an ALI/childless living angle to them. Which goes to show you coping with grief is a lifelong process, and that the effects of infertility & loss can linger long after the funeral is over and the treatment ends. 

But I hope my continued blogging also demonstrates that, even when you walk away from ttc without a baby, it's not the end.  It's only just the beginning of something new and different. You can still have a good life, even if it's not the one you thought you'd be leading. And it does get easier in time.

Love & (((hugs))) to all of you who are on this road less travelled with me. You are definitely not alone!

Stuff to read & watch

  • Toronto Star columnist Catherine Porter wrote a lovely supportive article about Bill 141 and the need to change the way pregnancy loss is handled, both in Ontario hospitals and by society at large.  "Why should we feel shame about losing a child?" she asks. Good question!
    • Sample quote: “We have a two-tier treatment for mothers who are pregnant. If it’s a successful birth there is cheer, joy and care. If something goes wrong, the nurse walks out on you, they send you home or leave you in the hall for hours or next door to a room with a crying baby being born,” says Colle [MPP Mike Colle, who sponsored Bill 141 and whose daughter has lost three babies]. “Then you go home, and no one talks about it. You are supposed to suffer in silence.”
  • Front page article in today's Toronto Star about the Ontario government's recently announced move to fund IVF -- and how limited funding is turning the much-anticipated program into a "baby lottery." :p  The online coverage is far more extensive than the print version. As always, beware the comments -- when I looked, there was not one positive or supportive comment in the bunch. :p  :( 
  • In her ongoing video interview series, "Talking About Childlessness," Jody Day of Gateway Women chats with Lisa Manterfield of Life Without Baby about grief, Plan B, and handling the holidays --  both highly articulate spokespeople for our childless/free segment of the ALI community. Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Peace is...

A Facebook find. :)
Easier said than done sometimes, isn't it...??

Monday, December 14, 2015

#MicroblogMondays: Feeling old/feeling young

A few things that are making me feel old(er) lately:

* Younger Nephew got engaged this past weekend!!  (Wedding date still TBD -- his older brother's is this coming fall.)  I still think of him as an adorable, chubby, curly-headed toddler with a soother permanently stuck in his mouth.
* Discussing mother of the bride (& groom) dresses with SIL & Older Nephew's fiancée's mother this weekend, including the merits of dresses with sleeves when you're in your 50s.
* Getting the ubiquitous Christmas card photos from friends & neighbours and noticing how grown-up their kids (& grandkids!!) are becoming.
* Noticing a LOT more grey hair on my head lately.
* Seeing online photos of a holiday gathering of some of my high school classmates, & not being able to identify most of them. (On the other hand, feeling better about my own grey hairs when I see some of theirs, lol.)
*  Trying (& failing) to master a whole lot of new technology all at once. :p
* Only lasting two hours while Christmas shopping in the city last week. (Although to be fair, that's probably as much because of the cold I've been battling as my age...!)
* Trying (& failing) to get tickets to see Bruce Springsteen, & realizing "The River" (which he will be performing in its entirety) was released 35 years ago, when dh & I were both at university.
* Realizing that there's no way these days that I could stand for three hours for a rock concert on the floor like I did when I was 20. Reserved seats all the way!!  (Even if they are more expensive, lol.)

 A few things that make me feel like I'm still a kid: 

*  Watching Santa with the kids at the mall & wanting to go sit on his lap myself. ;)
*  Seeing the Christmas lights on the neighbours' houses, all lit up after dark.
* Enjoying the lights on my own Christmas tree every evening.
*  Passing by an outdoor neighbourhood skating rink that's under construction & wishing I still had a pair of skates (even though I haven't been skating in 30 years...!).
*  Finding myself wishing it would snow (even though I'm enjoying the current balmy temperatures...!) -- makes things much more Christmas-y.
*  Doing the daily advent calendar every morning with dh.
*  Counting the days until I see my family for the holidays (soon! soon!!).

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here     

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

An early Christmas present :)

Good news today for bereaved parents living in Ontario, past, present & future. :)  Bill 141 -- the Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness, Research and Care Act, which I blogged about a few weeks ago -- was passed by the Ontario legislature, with widespread support from all parties across the legislature. The bill will establish October 15th as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in Ontario. More importantly, it will require the Ministry of Health to allocate resources to conduct much-needed research and expand programs to support the many, many families affected by pregnancy loss and infant death. 

Perhaps even more importantly, as the first known healthcare legislation of its kind in North America, the bill helps to break the silence that surrounds pregnancy and infant loss issues, and sets a long-overdue precedent and an example for other Canadian provinces, American states and other countries to follow.

Here's a press release about the passage of the bill.  Media coverage has been shamefully minuscule, with the notable exception of Ashley Csanady of the National Post, who has written a couple of excellent articles following the bill's progress, including this one about its passage. (I suggest you not read the comments.  Even about an issue like this, people find bones to pick. Sheesh. :p )

Monday, December 7, 2015

#MicroblogMondays: Bah, humbug...

Welcome to my whine & cheese party. :p  I'm sick. :(  AND Aunt Flo conveniently decided to drop by at the same time -- talk about a double whammy. :p

It's been a busy couple of weeks... I'd been feeling fatigued and there was a suspicious scratch in my throat, which should have been a clue that something was up, I guess. Then on Friday, we spent a couple of chilly hours tramping around downtown Toronto and the Christmas Market. Which was a great way to spend the afternoon and get immersed in the holiday spirit, but probably didn't help suppress whatever bug I'd picked up. I haven't had a full-fledged cold in a couple of years, so I guess I was overdue. On the bright side, it's still two weeks before Christmas & travel time. If I had to get sick, this is a much better time for it! 

So here I sit on the loveseat with my laptop, tissues, water, lozenges and TV remote control close at hand. Nothing to do except rest up and focus on getting through this thing as quickly as possible. No kids to worry about (and I think I probably get sick much less often most parents I know), no meetings to attend or deadlines to power through. Christmas shopping can wait another day. Childlessness (and unemployment/retirement) does have its perqs, lol.   

You can find more of this week's #MicroblogMondays posts here.     

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Odds & ends

  • In case you haven't noticed ;)  I have been on a posting roll lately. ;)  17 posts in November alone, sometimes two in one day. I didn't formally take part in NaBloPoMo, but maybe I could have/should have. ;)  I said a little while back that I was hoping to reach 1,000 posts before the year is over -- and I'm well on track to meet that goal (knock wood!) ;) -- but I haven't been posting simply to rack up numbers. Sometimes I can't think of anything I want to say/write for days on end (or I just don't have time);  other times, the posts just write themselves, one after another. November was one of those months. ;)   
  • Dh & I have also been on a roll with movies:  we've seen 23 to date this year, i.e., an average of two a month. Most of them have been really good. Most recently, we saw "Spotlight." I'd heard it billed as the best movie about journalism since "All the President's Men" (which I adored), and it did not disappoint. I predict Oscar nominations.
  • "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" will have to wait until after we return from Christmas vacation, though. :(  I wouldn't say I'm a Star Wars fanatic, but I LOVED the original three Star Wars movies (the first came out when I was in high school, the third when dh & I were both in grad school), and I am so looking forward to seeing this one, with the original cast members. :)  When I saw the trailer with Han Solo & Chewbacca entering the Millennium Falcon, and Han smiling & saying, "Chewie, we're home" I got teary. ;)  (OK, maybe I am a geek after all.)  
  • Mel had a post recently asking whether we assume technology will always work, or always fail.  My response was that MY assumption when it comes to new technology is that *I* won’t be able to figure it out!  lol  It was a timely question because at the moment, we are awash in new technology, issues with old technology -- and frustration. 
    • As I wrote a little while ago, we just got a new flat-screen, HD LED Smart TV (stepBIL helped us with the initial setup for that). Then we had to get an HD box to go WITH the TV (& figure out how to hook up & operate THAT -- not to mention it’s costing us an extra $13 on our monthly cable to be able to watch HDTV on our HDTV, grrrr…). We've had to call the cable company at least three times for help so far, because every time there is a new download, it screws everything up. :p 
    •  Then we got a new car (our old one was 12+ years old) -- and IT has all kinds of high-tech bells & whistles we are still trying to figure out.
    • Then yesterday, I went to print a photo on my home printer. The printer is about 12 years old, but I have never had an issue with it -- until now.  The colours came out all wrong & muddy. (It still prints black & white documents fine.)  The one thing I can think of that's different since the last time I printed off a photo is that the last two ink cartridges I installed (it takes 6) have been generic Staples brand ones, because I can't get the manufacturer's cartridges in those shades any more. I had hoped to hang onto this printer for a little while longer... we'll see...
    • We recently realized we really do need to trade in our 8-year-old flip phones for smartphones (when dh was in the hospital last week, I had to go outside to pick up a signal every time I wanted to call his brother with an update -- and he couldn't call me -- while all around me people were yakking on their smartphones) -- but we’ve decided to wait until after Christmas. There is only so much new technology two aging baby boomers can master at once. :p
  • Speaking of technology (& frustration) -- I mentioned awhile back that I have been having some major issues with leaving comments on some WordPress/self-hosted blogs. I try to post something & it goes "poof!" & disappears. Or tries to get me to log into my WordPress account, vs just letting me use my regular info. I've tried to contact the bloggers privately where possible, but I don't have emails for some... so if it's been awhile since you've heard from me, check your spam folder -- some WordPress bloggers have found my comments in there. :p 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

"No more baby"

I saw a post today from a (non-ALI) blogger I follow. The title made me catch my breath: "No more baby," it read.

"Oh no," I immediately thought, "she's had a miscarriage!" 

She wasn't pregnant, that I knew of, but that was the first thing that popped into my head.

What would YOU have thought? 

Of course, the post wasn't pregnancy loss-related at all. It was her son's first birthday. She WAS mourning, but mourning the fact that the first year was over;  her little boy wasn't a "baby" any more.

Context is everything, I guess. When you've never lost a baby, you probably don't realize the impact that words like "no more baby" can have on someone whose baby-related experiences have been very different. I envy the innocence some people have about these matters.

And I realize that old habits & patterns of thinking die very hard, especially when you're an ALI-er. :p 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Book: "Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter" by Kate Clifford Larson

I've read many books about the Kennedy family over the years, so I was familiar with the story of Rosemary, Joe & Rose Kennedy's third child and oldest daughter: born with "intellectual disabilities" that were carefully hidden from the public, presented at court in front of the king and queen of England along with her mother & sister in 1938, lobotomized at age 23 in a botched operation orchestrated by her father, and then whisked away to spend the rest of her long life (she died in 2005 at age 86) in seclusion in the care of nuns at a convent in Wisconsin.

Long overshadowed by her more famous parents & siblings, Rosemary has finally been given a well-deserved turn in the spotlight by Kate Clifford Larson in her new book, Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter. The book is full of new details, material and insights about Rosemary, her life and times. Larson puts the reader in Rosemary's shoes, reminding us what it must have been like to grow up in the highly competitive Kennedy family, but unable to keep up with your siblings and meet the extremely high expectations that your parents had for their children. She also reminds us what it meant to be "mentally retarded" (the term then used) in the early part of the 20th century: to have a person like Rosemary in your family was considered shameful, and there were very few resources, programs, or schools to support these children and their families. Of course, the wealthy Kennedys were far better equipped than most people to offer Rosemary every advantage they could find to help her -- a succession of private schools, camps, lessons and paid companions -- but at the same time, they strove to present a picture of normalcy, carefully guarding Rosemary's secret from the public, so as not to damage the family's reputation and social and political prospects. 

As she grew older, Rosemary's frustrations manifested in increasingly rebellious and even violent behaviour. The most beautiful of all the Kennedy sisters, her parents feared she would be easy prey for unscrupulous men.  This led Joe Kennedy to decide -- without consulting his wife!! -- to subject Rosemary to a lobotomy, which was then a fairly new and untested procedure that was supposed to "calm" her. When it was over, Rosemary was reduced to a shell of her former self, physically disabled with the mental capacity of a two-year-old. What happened to Rosemary was not openly discussed within the family;  she just disappeared. Her mother did not visit her for 20 years (when she did, Rosemary was clearly furious). Older brother John paid her a private visit her during the 1960 presidential campaign. Gradually, her siblings began to understand what had happened to her, and to re-integrate her into the family. When she died in 2005, it was with her surviving brother and sisters around her.

Beyond Rosemary, her next-younger surviving sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, emerges as the heroine of the story: after her father's stroke, and as her mother aged, she assumed responsibility for her sister's care. Inspired in part by Rosemary, Eunice became well known as a tireless advocate for children's health and disability issues, and as founder of the Special Olympics. Senator Ted Kennedy, the youngest Kennedy sibling, was also well known for championing legislation that improved the lives of Americans living with disabilities.

This book is a reminder of how much things have changed in a very short time for people with disabilities -- and how much the Kennedy family, and Rosemary, had to do with that. It's a sad but important story that deserves to be told, and Larson has done an admirable job of bringing this long-neglected member of the famous Kennedy family out of the shadows.

This was book #26 that I've read so far in 2015.