Category Archives: Sisters

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Anastasia’s Sisters: Olga’s Story

The fairy tale/alternative history movie, Anastasia, is a favorite. Her sisters have compelling stories and each deserve a movie as well.

Olga, the eldest of Anastasia’s siblings was sympathetic, smart, and rebellious. reading7!Olga_Nikolayevna,_1913
She worked as a Red Cross nurse with her sister, Tatiana, where she met normal people including common men…soldiers–whom she loved. Olga stands out in her family because of her  gift of foresight and sorted between through what was truth.

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A disgusting truth about her family was they shared an odd bond with Rasputin. Her mother relied too much on him. Olga clashed with her mother often. Olga seems to be the only one in her immediate family who was suspicious of him.
One of her boyfriends, a soldier named Dmitri Chakh-Bagov, told Olga he would kill Rasputin if she wanted. When Rasputin was killed by a relative, Olga considered that maybe it was best for Russia. She didn’t approve that it was a cousin who murdered him, though.

Fellow Red Cross nurse and co-worker, Valentina Ivanovna Chebotareya, reflected that Olga had dreams to “get married, always live in the country side winter and summer, see only good people and no one official.”

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Olga brought herself from her wishing thinking to reality. Gleb Botkin, son of the Romanov family  doctor, believed Olga “understood the general situation better than member of her family, including even her parents…She had little illusions in regard to what the future held in store for them, and in consequence was often sad and worried.”

Little brother, Alexei, and Olga on the train to what would end up being their final destination in 1918. This picture shows an aging and wise princess.

Little brother, Alexei, and Olga on the ship to what would end up being their final destination in 1918. This picture shows an aging and wise princess.



There’s a prayer in one of Olga’s notebooks that support that belief. The end sums up Olga’s feelings well: “Bless us with prayer and give our humble soul rest in this unbearable, dreadful hour. At the threshold of the grave, breathe into the lips of your slaves inhuman strength—to pray meekly for our enemies.”

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Sources:

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolaevna of Russia

Russia’s Lost Princesses Documentary 1/2.
www.youtube.com

Russia’s Lost Princesses Documentary 2/2. www.youtube.com

Images:

Olga with peasant children, circa

Grand Duchess Olga Nikolayevna. circa 1913

Olga Nikolaevna in the Mauve Room, Alexander Palace

Alexei and Olga on ship, 1918

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Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

Last Friday, Rosemary finally came! Beforehand, I had noticed her on Amazon’s best sellers’ list, researched her online, placed a hold, and researched her a little more. I couldn’t wait to read about JFK’s remarkable sister. Finally I was alerted Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson had arrived.

It was a quick read.  As soon as I started reading Rosemary, I felt like I was being introduced to a new friend. Whenever I had to do something else, I closed the book, looked at the cover with Rosemary’s  portrait, and promised I’d be back.

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The book starts out with Larson dedicating the book to those with disabilities and their families. Larson narrates Rosemary’s story the way she sees it. It’s honest, heartbreaking, and hopeful.

I watched videos of the author on her book tour, and Larson is more frank with her opinions. However, in the book she gives the reader more lead way to decide if Rose and Joseph Kennedy Sr. did the right things for their daughter. Their concern for perfection and family seemed to be a constant conflict.  The Kennedy family cares a lot about image, and they worked hard to include Rosemary while strategically positioning her in public or hiding her so no one would notice their gorgeous daughter’s learning disabilities and mood swings. At the same, Rosemary also wanted to please her parents—from adjusting to multiple schools to the fateful lobotomy.

I enjoyed reading about the love between Rosemary and her siblings—especially Eunice who was especially talented when it came to calming down Rosemary. Whenever Eunice appears, you feel safe.

I’ve always had reservations about the Kennedy family—and still do—but have a new respect and admiration for them. Learning about how Eunice Shriver  founded the Special Olympicsis of course impressive. But I was happy to learn how much they personally cared and didn’t (and still don’t) do this charity work at a distance. The last part of Rosemary’s life, the Shriver family put a lot of effort into strengthening bonds with Rosemary. They made sure that Rosemary made frequent visits to their home. The visits could be challenging but also uplifting. The visits seemed to have inspired the Shriver children to be better people, and they would continue to be involved with the work their mother started.

I texted my mom right after I finished reading Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter. I highly recommended the book to her and recommend it to you. Rosemary is so compelling—so get to know her! Place a hold at the library.  Read this book. It sounds cliché, but you won’t regret it.

Recommended Videos:
Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter 

Timothy Shriver Remembers His Aunt Rosemary Kennedy | Super Soul Sunday | Oprah Winfrey Network

Eunice Kennedy Shriver discusses her life and legacy

Recommended Sites:
https://bestbuddies.org/

http://www.specialolympics.org/

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David and Goliath, or the Quest for Michal Begins

Going WAY back. To better times…

It’s hard to know when Michal actually met David. He was already a minor celebrity when, through word of mouth, got the the appointment as one of the king’s musicians. Before coming to court, he was anointed as Israel’s next king.

Saul and his household appreciated the peace he brought to court. Through Saul’s disobedient and perhaps through the traumas of battles, the evil spirit that plagued Saul left when David played. Good music is good therapy.

Very few knew of David’s call to be king at this time. He would have been more observant of Saul and his family than they were of him. There was something special, though, about this harp player that impressed Saul and others. Yet, Saul inquired more about him after he defeated Golaith. David then became a resident in the royal household.

Is This Not a Cause?

Oh, yes, we need to discuss David and Goliath.

There was terror—even from Michal’s brave father—with the threat of Goliath. There were rumors. David picked up on some when he acquired what’s up by men on the roadside. Goliath was feared and David heard some men say that “The man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give his daughter, and make his father’s house free in Israel” (1 Samuel 17:25-27)

Did he hear that right? David asked if it true, and the people were confident that the victor would get those great prizes.

David’s oldest brother, Eliab, was taken aback when he heard David’s conversation. I find David’s reply a little enlightening. “What have I now done? Is there not a cause?” (1 Samuel 17:29)

Or a couple. Did you pick up on anything? Or anybody? Basically this was a nice lead way into gaining access to kingship.

And daughter? The passage doesn’t specify Michal or her older sister Merab which I find interesting. Perhaps David didn’t care which daughter as long as marrying one of the king’s daughter got him closer to being king. Still I find it curious that Merab’s name isn’t inserted.

David was young. Most likely too young to marry now according to Saul. Merab and Michal were surely young—maybe not even considered women yet. For sure they were going to get married since it was in their father’s best interest to make alliances.

Happy Days

It was a happy day for Israel when David defeated Goliath. Israel was pumped and chased the Philistines. David moved into the royal household.

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David had got what was promised. Almost. He was still too young to marry Saul’s daughter, but the idea was planted in his head. David always got what he wanted. Always.

I mentioned before how David would have found Michal appealing. The chances of marrying a rare Benjaminite woman of her position, were out of his world. Of course Merab fit the same criteria, but Michal was also the younger daughter. Biblical tradition shows the eldest daughter was married off first. As we see in the Jacob, Leah, and Rachel story, a younger daughter is more of a challenge to get. The more challenging, the better for David.

Sources:
1 Samuel 17

Images:
David gegen Goliath by Gebhard Fugel
David Slays Goliath by Gustave Dore

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Twenty-nine. Such an Awkward Number.

The eve of my birthday, I received a comforting e-card from an eleven-year-old friend who said,

I heard that you are turning twenty-nine. That seems like such an awkward number, doesn’t it? But I’m sure you’ll pull it off beautifully.”

It was even more reassuring than the other insightful articles about people who also freaked out when they turned twenty-nine. Some articles were silly, serious, and a combo.  I came across memorable quotes. Actress Helen Mirren wrote some gems:

“The hardest period in life is one’s twenties. It’s a shame because you’re your most gorgeous, and you’re physically in peak condition. But it’s actually when you’re most insecure and full of self-doubt. When you don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s frightening.”

I see where’s she coming from.

I haven’t completed the duties one has do before they reach thirty. Like travel. Do something incredibly crazy. Have a successful career Get married. Have a family.

This year might be the most frightening of all. And it’s not just about the pressures to fulfill all twenties expectations. It’s to see if I can survive. The type of attitude winning survivors put on. Some of these survivors are found on this very website.   Some who didn’t live up to their culture’s ideals while they lived their terrifying twenties. Yet, they would shine later on…

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bride-groom-new-testament_1154694_inl by Lyle Beddes

The pressure to produce posterity was perhaps greater for Jewish women in biblical times.

Elisabeth, mother of John the Baptist, had been expected to have children by her twenties. Did others think she did something wrong? But the Bible assures us she and her husband “were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” I’d imagine that she had to make the decision if she was going to be faithful young. She had made the choice to keep all the commandments and people looked up to her. She was a sort of mentor when the young Mary stayed with her for three months.

Mary visiting Elisabeth, who was someone she could turn for guidance.

Mary visiting Elisabeth, who was someone she could turn for guidance.

Elisabeth’s life became more eventful as she and her son were on the run during the Massacres of the Innocents. (Luke 1:6-7, 56;Luke 11:51; Matthew 2:16)

 

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rtiist: After Dirk Stoop

At 23, the little Portuguese princess didn’t know the humiliations and scandals that awaited her in England.

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She expressed a desire to go home from early on, Perhaps it was the realization of protecting Portugal that motivated her to stay in England and dodge lurking dangers.

While in her twenties, Catherine of Braganza became queen of England. Despite striving to do the right thing, she never did produce an heir. She became a forty-seven-year old widow but had learned to survive–and she eventually thrived. During the last twenty years of her life, she accumulated more money, returned to Portugal as a hero, ruled as regent, and was a mentor and maternal figure to her nephew who later became king of Portugal.

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Catherine gave herself a new life at 47. She died at 67 and every inch a queen.

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Let’s recall the Barrett sisters, Elizabeth and Henrietta. By the time they were in their twenties, they lost siblings and their mother. How were they supposed to look at the world? They might have  struggled to answer. Elizabeth became a successful poet early on but still faced serious illnesses. Henrietta had loved once, but experienced heartbreak. Such losses and experiences, however, would lead to a more accomplished life.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The possibilities of getting a new last name looked slim, but they wouldn't be Barretts forever!

Elizabeth Barrett Browning. The possibilities of getting a new last name looked slim, but she and Henrietta wouldn’t be  Moulton-Barretts forever!

We wouldn’t have gotten Elizabeth’s most famous poem “How Do I Love Thee” without the hardships of the Barrett family. She wrote that sonnet among other classics in her late thirties during her courtship to Robert Browning. By age forty, she eloped with him to Italy. She became active in politics and had a child at forty-three.

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Elizabeth with her son Pen whom she gave birth to when she was 43. Henrietta had her last child at 47.

Henrietta, didn’t give up on love either. She married at age forty-one. Between ages forty-two and forty-seven, she gave birth to three children.

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These numbers and accomplishments I’m spurting out motivate me!  I’m less afraid of what I haven’t done and more excited for the future. As C.S. Lewis said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

I admit I’m still  frightened. My sister pointed out:

“ We are constantly evolving and ever changing. I don’t think a decade defines us. We can always become something new. The gospel is one of progression, so that means we are always working toward something-not limited to our past.”

Dramatic or not, I’m thrilled to adapt plans I’m working on. I’ve decided not only to accept what I haven’t done, but also to celebrate it! Go forward with faith. Not all the best things in life have to be compacted in the twenties package.

I’ll get through twenty-nine.

And I’ll do it beautifully.

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Pictures
Painting of Bride and Groom by Lyle Beddes from lds.org New Testament Student Manuel

La Visitatio by Niolas Labbe 

Catherine of Braganza paintings:
Dirk Stoop
Peter Lely
Benedettp Gennari

Images of Elizabeth Barrett Browning are also public domain.

 

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The Austen Vs. Barrett Sisters

Sisters.

One sister was near marriage but outside forces dashed those hopes. Her writer-sister had a proposal of marriage and….

How will such a story end?

The Austens

Cassandra’s fiance  worked in order for them to get married. He went on a military mission but died after he caught yellow fever in 1797. Cassandra now had some money, but no man to share it with. She never married.

Then we all know Jane.

CassandraAusten-JaneAusten(c.1810)_hiresParties, balls, humor, but never she seemed to find Mr. Right. She briefly accepted a proposal in 1802. The man was financially secured and perhaps it would have been perfect if she loved him. She didn’t and soon declined.  One portrayal of possible romances include Becoming Jane.

The Barretts

Henrietta could have been a character out of an Austen novel—was religious but determined to have fun and find romance at balls and parties. It seemed marriage was in her grasp at one point, but  any suitor was kicked out of her life by her father.

Mr. Barrett would never let his children marry.

Elizabeth couldn’t spend time outside like she used to, but kept contact with her family, friends, and intellectuals through  correspondences and others visiting her.  Her mind was active, but felt close to death till fellow poet Robert Browning showed intense interest in her.Elizabeth-Barrett-Browning,_Poetical_Works_Volume_I,_engraving One of the sonnets she wrote during their courtship starts:

“My future will not copy fair my past.”

The sonnet talks about the new life she feels like she’s been given. She can’t go back to the past where she thought love was lost.

Elizabeth couldn’t make the same mistakes other did. She had to be stealthier than Henrietta. And unlike Jane, Elizabeth had the means to support herself and was in love with a man who loved her. But could Elizabeth back out at the proposal of marriage from Robert? Would she find enough strength to go through with the marriage?

She did. She eloped with Robert Browning to Italy in 1846.. Elizabeth’s father disowned her but she continued to compose poems.

Now what of Henrietta?

Could she find true love? Even if she did, could she find a way to marry?

Four years after her sister eloped, Henrietta married a Captain William Cook.  Like Elizabeth, she too was disowned by her father.

We don’t know much about Henrietta but we know she displayed gumption. Some of that gumption is portrayed in, The Barretts of Wimpole Street.

Though the Barrett sisters could afford marriage, could they be indebted to the Austen sisters who gave some do’s and don’ts when it came to marriage and love?

P.S. And which film is better–Becoming Jane or The Barretts of Wimpole Street?

Sources:

http://www.browningscorrespondence.com/biographical-sketches/?id=977

wikipedia.org
Pictures:
"The Two Sisters" by Henri Fantin-Latour
Portrait of Jane Austen by Cassandra Austen
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Engraving September, 1859,      by Macaire Havre, engraving by T. O. Barlow