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It’s well-known that the Kennedy family has been fraught with tragedy, but according to the book White House By The Sea: A Century of the Kennedys at Hyannis Port, there was one that JFK’s mother Rose Kennedy considered the “biggest tragedy” of them all.
Before we dive into the tragedy, we need to give a bit of backstory into the main people in this event. There was Joseph P. Kennedy Sr and Rose Kennedy, who had nine children together. The eldest daughter was Rose Marie “Rosemary” Kennedy, whose life was truly filled with tragedy and heartbreak.
In a conversation with the Kennedys’ long-time neighbor Nancy Tenney, as told in the upcoming book, she asked Rose: “What do you think the worst tragedy has been?”
Rose told her that the biggest tragedy was when her husband Joseph sent off their daughter Rosemary to get a lobotomy done without her knowledge.
In the book, it reads: “And she described Rose as kind of pausing for a beat and thinking for a moment and saying that what happened to Rosemary was the worst tragedy. She confided to Nancy that when Joe had arranged for the lobotomy, that he hadn’t told Rose about that.”
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For those that don’t know, Rosemary was known for experiencing seizures, mood swings, and due to a loss of oxygen during her birth, she had a few developmental issues, per Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter, by Kate Clifford Larson. When Rosemary turned 23, Joseph scheduled a lobotomy under the advice of other doctors. He didn’t tell his wife until after the procedure was done.
According to Larson’s book, Joseph sent her off to get a lobotomy due to him growing embarrassed over her behavior, and out of fear it would damage his and his family’s political careers.
The lobotomy left her with the “mental capacity of a toddler,” per People, and without the ability to walk or speak. After the lobotomy, she was sent away to a Catholic facility known as Saint Coletta’s, where she lived in for the rest of her life.
Before you go, click here to see presidential families over the years.