Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff…

JFK, Jr.

14 years ago tomorrow…I am publishing on Monday since Tuesday is the weekly restaurant blog…I was experiencing a truly memorable day on the island of Capri. I had just returned to the hotel room from swimming around Faraglioni, the iconic 3 spurs of rock which rise up out of the Tyrrhenian Sea. I hadn’t watched television in weeks and by chance, turned it on and discovered CNN. I decided to let reality seep into my fantasy vacation. The screen was filled with a shoot of ocean water….then the dreaded somber voice over and a flashing, Breaking News.

Tuesday is the 14th year anniversary of the tragic death of John F Kennedy, Jr. his wife, Carolyn Bessette and her sister, Lauren.  Forgive me for kicking off Monday on a Debbie Downer, but my intention is to commence this summer day in July with hope for all of us to live life to the fullest.

I knew John as a kid on the Cape. I was working for ABC Sports and my boss, Roone Arledge, a true genius, innovator and TV legend, called me into his office and presented Mission Impossible. I was making strides at ABC Sports and Mr. Arledge informed me that the network was taking on what I remember to be the first of its’ kind broadcast of a televised pro-celebrity tennis tournament. The tournament was to be spearheaded by Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy (never referred to professionally as Ethel…I earned a spanky for that presumption!) with proceeds from the RFK Memorial Fund to benefit Appalachian and inner city children, among others.

My first reaction was thank you for thinking of me, but no thanks. I never wanted to live with another family again. Mine was great, but one is enough.  I received a verbal tongue lashing from family, friends and business associates for entertaining the thought of rejecting this once in a lifetime opportunity to live in Camelot with America’s First Family (not the Kardashians, but the Kennedy’s) that I reconsidered and graciously accepted Roone Arledge’s assignment.

Kennedy Compound Hyannisport, MA.

I flew to Washington and began my indentured servitude to Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy at Hickory Hill in MacLean, Virginia and Hyannisport, Massachusetts. There is an entire book’s worth of experiences to be recounted here, but I will skip to the Cape and my time with young JFK, Jr. who was approximately 12.

His mother was now married to Aristotle Onassis and Jackie Kennedy Onassis still visited the Kennedy family home on the Cape in what was known as the Kennedy Compound. The “Compound” consisted of Rose Kennedy’s large home and smaller next door neighbor homes, belonging to JFK and RFK. The rest of the family homes, including Senator Ted Kennedy, the Shriver’s and Kennedy sister, Jean Kennedy Smith, were close by, but not in the so-called compound.

John and I shared youthful adventures, including playing hide and seek from the Secret Service. It was always great fun to try to out maneuver and slip by the Secret Service…maybe that is why I unconsciously contemplated a job as a CIA agent in a previous blog:). Anyway, he was an adorable, clever and charismatic child who grew into a handsome and debonair man whose life was unexpectedly cut way to short. Many years later, I bumped into him as an adult and he attended a Huey Lewis and the News concert.

Friends….Your Mission Impossible (you can make it possible) if you chose to accept, is today or this week, share some time with people that matter to you, call your parents or a beloved relative, volunteer and pass it forward.

I have a great reference. Go to the Yankee website and check out Hope Week, which started in 2009 and is rooted in the fundamental belief that acts of goodwill provide hope and encouragement. One of the charities is, Birthday Wishes, a nonprofit that aims to help homeless children build self-esteem by ensuring their birthdays are recognized and celebrated. I plan on volunteering.

Adopt a rescue dog or work in an animal shelter. Last week, the Yankees visited the New Beginnings Animal Shelter in the Bronx where they rehabilitate and find homes for sheltered animals.

Make today and everyday special and in many ways, don’t sweat the small stuff (a daily challenge being a ‘pauser!). Life is not a dress rehearsal, although it is always advisable to dress like it is opening night and make sure you do hair and makeup.

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