Rosemary, The Hidden Kennedy Daughter


An extremely moving talk about Rosemary Kennedy.  Please see the entire video at the bottom of this post. For whatever we think of the Kennedy’s especially Joe Kennedy I found myself listening to this talk from the perspective of parents with an intellectually/developmentally disabled child. Despite all their resources and riches the techniques, programs, services and medical care that is available today was not there in the 1920s/1930s.

In some parts of the film relate to the mother Rose Kennedy via my mother Mable Palmer. I can clearly imagine the frustration of placing your child in school after school waiting for the miracle result that never manifests even with all your wealth, power and influence.  Like the Kennedy’s our parents always impressed upon me that we must stick together. “Blood is thicker than water.”  As you know from previous posts I am very protective of my brother Stephen.   I also know and remember the stigma, shame and guilt my mother Mable Palmer went through in the 1960s/70s so it must have been even worse in the 1920s/30s.

Initially Stephen screamed. All. The. Time.  I don’t know how my mother managed. Dad went to work every day so he got a break.  After a time Stephen stopped screaming and eventually did speak but to this day he cannot carry on a conversation though he will listen to the other people around him and respond if questioned.

However my parents drew the line at any type of medical experimentation. Plus being working class obviously our parents especially our Mom were much more hands on. Daddy did take us out on the weekends so Mommy could get a break. They refused to institutionalize Stephen.

However having said that I cannot pass judgments on Joe and Rose Kennedy having Rosemary lobotomized. At that time a lobotomy was considered a cure for various types of mental illness.  I would guess they were at their wits end given Rosemary’s behavior. Sadly Rosemary Kennedy came out of the surgery totally disabled. She was the sacrificial lamb. Not a Happy Ending.  At that point in the documentary I wanted to cry.

I’m very glad that my parents did not put Stephen away into an institution. I’m grateful that Stephen and I grew up together. I remember back in 1989 when Stephen was placed into his current Group Home. Even though I was the one who worked to get him placed into a facility because my parents were becoming ill and could no longer care for Stephen, I cried the first night I came home from work and Stephen was not there running down the stairs to greet me.

Thanks to Eunice Kennedy Stephen did participate for many years in the local Special Olympics held at St. John’s University in Queens, New York.

Thank you to all the Kennedys’ who after witnessing this horrible event happen to their beloved sister worked to make things better for intellectually/developmentally disabled people today. No matter what side of the political fence you’re on without the hard work and tenacity of the Kennedy siblings we would still be in the Dark Ages of institutionalized warehousing.

See Willowbrook State School:

Thank you Rosemary Kennedy for being a transformation for good! God Bless you for now you reside in your Heavenly home well, happy, healthy and free!!

Thank you Lord God Jehovah for my brother Stephen Vincent Palmer. For all the progress he made in spite of the negative reports from those doctors back in 1963 when he was two years old.  God knew better because Stephen is one of His special children. Thanks to our parents who believed that Stephen could learn, who treated him just like any other child, gave him chores to do up to and including his abilities and disciplined him teaching him right from wrong so that today Stephen is a contributing member of society.  He is more than my sibling. He is my companion. My friend. My life long partner and I would never trade or ask the Heavens for a so-called “normal” sibling when I have the most perfect brother in the world!!

I Love You Stephen Vincent Palmer!!

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Rosemary, The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

16 thoughts on “Rosemary, The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

    1. I hope that you were able to watch the author discuss her book about Rosemary Kennedy’s Life. Goes to show you that even having “more money than God” as the author put it does not mean you have a better life. I don’t know about me being any sort of beacon of light for others because everyone’s situation is different and believe me I’m constantly at odds with my job for time off and sometimes with the managers of Stephen’s group home regarding his care, paperwork, etc… As much as I Love my brother as I battle my own health problems Life has become more difficult and resources for siblings are not available. Hopefully they will be for the next generation.

      1. Yes. I suppose I’ve been steeped in the legend of Camelot (President Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy). Read or heard of all their flaws and foibles. Joe Kennedy’s rum running days and philandering but no family is perfect however the Kennedy’s have had a great effect on America and left their mark in many facets of our daily lives. The children (meaning my generation 40s & up) are still making strides for the USA.

  1. Very moving post, very sad video. I also went online and read Rosemary’s bio. How tragic. I am nervous what will happen to my son during his puberty years, as I hear the changes can be very hard. Your family sounds very amazing, strong and loving. Thank you for sharing this with me!

    1. I’m sure there will be changes during puberty but programs, services and support is better now than even when Stephen and I grew up in the 1960s & 1970S. Stephen made it through puberty. We all stuck together as a family and that made the difference. Our parents have long since passed away but Stephen knows I will always be there for him. Once again Thanks for reading.

      1. When I read about the history of autism, I am very thankful for the knowledge and services available today. I hope and pray our family remains as strong and close as your family was and still is. Thanks for sharing with me. I will be back to read again!

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