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From True Compass by Edward M. Kennedy:

“My eldest sister, Rosemary, was twenty-three in 1941. Luminously pretty and round-faced, with a widow’s peak, dark brows, and a great smile that dimpled her cheeks, Rosemary was the one sibling with whom all the others were unfailingly gentle. Her affliction, diagnosed as mental retardation, left her struggling to comprehend things as quickly or as clearly as other people. She was a sweet and loving human being.

Rosemary enriched the humanity of all of us. Our sister Eunice seemed always to be near her, helping her through simple childhood games such as dodgeball, inviting her along and giving her assignments in sailing races. As she grew into adolescence, Rosemary knew she could count on Jack or Joe to escort her to dances at the Yacht Club at the Cape, or to the Stork Club in New York. I looked out for her too, when I could, although I was fourteen years younger–she was my godmother, after all. Dad wrote affectionate letters to her from abroad, and Mother actually altered her own handwriting from the swirling ‘fine Spencerian hand’ on which she’d prided herself, to a simpler style that imitated typographic print, so that Rosemary would have less trouble following it.

But in the fall of that year, our father, concerned that Rosemary’s condition would pose insurmountable dangers to her as an adult woman in the world, listened to doctors who assured him that a new form of neurosurgery would greatly benefit her and improve her quality of life. The doctors were wrong, the surgery further injured Rosie, and my parents were devastated. I, of course, knew and understood nothing of what had happened. Rosemary spent her remaining sixty-three years mostly in comfortable supervision at her home in a Catholic community in Wisconsin. Over the years, through her regular visits to Eunice’s home or her summer days on Cape Cod or wintertime in Florida or Thanksgiving at Jean’s, Rosemary remained a loving and inspirational presence in our family, not just for her siblings, but for the next generations as well.” (pp. 25-6)

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