I Wrote 'You Owe Me'
Updated: Sep 28
--on the bottom of the release form my sister made me sign to
Eden Raskin Jenkins is the age of my own offspring. Her kids refer to me as Poppy which is also what my grandchildren call me, making completion of any sort of kinship chart virtually impossible. That said we Raskins are a ridiculously close clan who would do anything for each other.
You know, generally speaking.
My little sister is doing a documentary about our father, Marcus Raskin; interviewing people around the country to paint a picture of his work for peace, democracy and civil rights, from inside the government and out. The intended audience are students of American history and, you know, her. Eden arrived so fashionably late to the family party that she missed a good chunk. (I still can't figure out if she's in the same generation as our brothers and me.)
Anyway, when she called, in her inimitable excited way, to set up a time to 'Come up to DC and be interviewed!' I replied something along the lines of, 'Uh, have we met?' (I don't even like leaving voicemails.)
The response was greeted with silence. So I stupidly tacked on a superfluous addendum, reminding her of the recent bouts of carsickness I've been afflicted with. 'I don't have it in me to drive up there right now, Edie.'
She sighed theatrically. 'Fine.'
I thanked her for understanding.
'We'll come to Charlottesville.'
And they did, arriving with a ton of cameras and lots of pre-knowledge gleaned from many interviews and primary source materials. Eden had well-organized open-ended questions, asking for my memories about things like our father being called 'the conscience' of President Kennedy's team -- then being rewarded for this distinction with a transfer out of the White House. What do you remember about this, she asked.
--Um, I was a toddler.
What was it like when Dad faced a jail sentence as part of the Boston 5 Conspiracy Trial?-
-Terrifying. Though I did get a puppy out of the deal.
How did it feel being spied on by because of Dad's activism?
--Creepy (AF.) Especially since the police surveillance seems to have included a live-in babysitter. Chez Raskin was apparently an open book.
I told her about happening upon that particular young woman riffling through his jacket pockets.
I ponied up other texture from days of yore and she shared some of her surprising research, particularly about his involvement in the release of the Pentagon Papers. We discussed the murky ethical questions inherent in the act and though the decision to participate was in service of ending the hugely destructive and illegal war in Southeast Asia, it could not have been a no-brainer. Dad, who had the most unerring of moral compasses, understood the stakes.
We talked about the earth-shattering assassinations of Dad's colleagues, Ronni Karpen Moffitt and Orlando Letelier. They were working against the new Chilean dictatorship and a bomb was detonated while they carpooled to the Institute for Policy Studies.
Eden's uncovered a lot, capturing not only a man but also a time. We spoke for hours and the whole thing was a lot less painful and (a little) more fun than I thought it would be.
That said, she still owes me.