In order to truly grasp the effect of that September Day when Unity was taken away, a deeper understanding of the Washingtons is essential. Perhaps a good starting place would be to put the Rolling Stones’ song “Sympathy for the Devil,” in a mashup with “Life in the Fast Lane” by the Eagles. Who knows how it would sound, but it would look like the in laws and out laws of the Washingtons.
Take Rosy, for example. She comes from an old family in the states, and they have been involved in the history of the nation in such a way that would make Forrest Gump envious. One of the things that caught Reagan’s attention in college was the humanitarian tendencies she had in common with her great grand-uncle John Kennedy, who started the Peace Corps. She seemed to love everyone and have a glow about her to which people (him included) were simply attracted. He didn’t know until several years into the marriage that Jack Ruby and John Wilkes Booth were also distantly related to her, and that the three had some common characteristics.
Reagan may have been most bothered by this because while they were on a weekend trip a few years ago in Baltimore, he suggested they find the grave of Booth. They were both enthusiastic to find it, but only upon standing over it did he mention that he can trace his family to Lincoln but oddly, no further, to which she responded “Booth was related to me – I can’t remember how.” They found this funny. Back then. Reagan also claimed relation to Gen. MacArthur, but because Reagan lived in the northeast he didn’t talk about that much because he was afraid people might know that the great general was born in Arkansas. He often points out the Christian missionaries in his family, and jabs Rosy about the assassins in her family, until she reminds him that his great great uncle Oppenheimer wasn’t too inspirational either in terms of holding life sacred.
Regardless, the Washingtons are a veritable Romeo & Juliet story, except that teenage suicide isn’t their tragedy.
Liberty is their pride and joy. One thing they can usually agree on is that no other family has a child like Liberty. She is one of a kind. They sometimes even flatter her by saying “There may be other kids named Liberty but they can’t hold a candle to OUR Liberty.” And she always giggles and blushes. Liberty seems to have the positive traits of her parents without the negative. Funny how DNA works that way sometimes: her mother’s “girl next door” freckly good looks, her father’s discipline, her mother’s heart and her father’s drive. She is mature for her age, and surprised her teachers once by explaining that sometimes the rules and boundaries imposed by her parents make her feel safe and secure, as opposed to restricted, as it keeps her mind free from worry about possible dangers. Wisdom from the mouths of babes. She makes her parents proud, and they are honored to be called her guardians. Her drawings of eagles flying are always posted in the hallways of the school.
Unity though. She doesn’t like the idea of “school spirit” because she rejects the idea that she should call her school better than some other, just because she attends this one. The family goes to First Protestant Church, but she says “we are all part of the body of Christ,” and refuses to call herself a member of a particular church. Mom likes to point out that Unity gets her humanitarian inclinations from her side of the family, until Liberty points out that Unity is adopted. Both parents hush Liberty at this point every time, but Unity knows it, accepts it, and takes no offense at Liberty, as she actually connects with her sister more than her parents. As a matter of fact, she’s hardly ever met someone to whom she didn’t relate. Like a sixth sense, she has an almost overwhelming empathy, often causing pain for her when others don’t, or can’t, reciprocate this insight. She has some understanding of the “can’t” but she has no patience for the “don’t” people. Some of her schoolmates have questioned why a girl named “Unity” sharply rejects people, and she explains that even Jesus rejects those who reject Him.
These are the Washingtons. Not the simplest family, but no more complicated than the Smiths, or the Jones, or any other American family. Regardless of what some of the neighbors say, they love each other, and in spite of how they present in public, they don’t always like each other. This is their story.