My uncontrollable memory tail has lashed me about recently, taking me to places I would rather not go.
First, the mixed circumstances of joy in reconnecting with a cousin and of sorrow whipping me backward in dealing with the memory of her mother, my famous cousin Carolyn and her illness-which in turn, re stimulated memories of my late husband, Jennings, and his struggles with schizophrenia.
Then this morning on CBS’s Sunday Morning, out of the blue, I was again swished back to a painful time in my young life. Michael Rockefeller.
I met Michael through my classmate and eventual apartment roommate, Patricia White. She, Michael, Mimi Kellogg and a few others and I would get together the next few years on occasions at parties, either at our apartment or other social events. We were young and all full of life and youthful expectations. All except me, were raised in a social bubble of great material comfort and equally great expectations. I was the anomaly in the group with my Midwestern middle class upbringing. Yet we were all alike in that few of us had experienced great personal losses beyond our grandparents or older relatives. We were invincible with miles of living ahead of us. That is, until Michael.
Michael Rockefeller, just a year or two older than I, disappeared and was presumed to have died November 17, 1961. He was the youngest son of New York Governor (later Vice President) Nelson Rockefeller and a fourth generation member of the Rockefeller family. Our friend disappeared during an expedition in the Asmat region of southwestern Netherlands New Guinea.
At the time we were told that he was believed to have drowned and they never were able to find his body. That was all we knew then. We were shocked and it took so long to accept we would never see him again. It was hard to accept that our intelligent, enthusiastic and sometimes funny friend was gone.
In 2014, Carl Hoffman published a book that went into detail about the inquest into his killing, in which villagers and tribal elders admit to Rockefeller being killed after he swam to shore in 1961.
So once again that memory tail has swooshed, given me a whack and knocked the air from me. As my son’s ‘To Be Young’ lyrics from his album Beauty In Disrepair explains….”As I look back…years of memories so neatly stacked..I forgot about you.”
Copyright Sandra Hart 2014. All rights reserved.