Suzy Remembers Jackie

I prayed and I mourned and I watched, and these are the thoughts that drifted in and out of my mind in a sad stream of consciousness as I sat in St. Ignatius Loyola Church at a funeral I never thought I would be attending -- ever. Jackie Kennedy...

But Jackie was never born to be a spineless victim or anybody's fool. She had tried to be a good wife to Ari and when she was spurned she sent Teddy Kennedy to meet Ari's daughter, Christina, on the Onassis private island, Skorpios, to talk business. Christina told me she kicked and screamed and hated Teddy, but they settled for $25 million or more, and Jackie, rejected, was now rich and rejected.

I was remembering that Jackie helped make Skorpios, neglected until her arrival, an Eden, and that Ari, a fun-loving, life-loving bear of a man whom I liked despite his being self-centered and spoiled, strangely resented her for it. Love had flown, and nothing she could do was right.

The master may have had his fill of her, but the little people who worked for him thought she was heaven-sent. After Ari died, I went to Skorpios to stay with Christina, and the maid who looked after me -- the island was staffed upon staffed from one end to the other -- asked, "Do you know Mrs. Onassis?" When I said that I did, she said, "When you see her will you please tell her that all of us here on Skorpios love her very much and miss her? We wished that she could be here with us forever."

So, finally, enter Maurice Tempelsman, the erudite, charming, worldly man who had the brains and the taste and the insight to appreciate the wondrous creature Jackie was. He gave her the love, the support, the refuge and the strength that other men had denied her. "She was so wonderfully lucky to have had you for those years," one of Jackie's friends said to Maurice at Jackie's wake. "No," he said, "I was so wonderfully lucky to have had her."

And weren't we all? I was lucky to be her friend, to have her encourage me and flatter me and never stop asking me through the years to write a book. She would call me and write me little notes (I've saved them all) and sit in my apartment and talk. "You know these people like no one else," she would say. "Write about them, their lives, their ambitions, their lies. Write how nothing really is the way it seems. How these women who seem to have it all, are really desperate and trapped." Then she would smile and say, "But if one has to be trapped and unhappy, maybe it's better in sables after all."
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