Pride and Joy

updated 06/16/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/16/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

On Easter Sundays, Jackie, Caroline and John—and, more recently, Caroline's children—were in the habit of visiting a friend's New Jersey farm for an egg hunt and then a parade in funny hats. Invariably, says a pal, Jackie's creations—a lamp shade tied to her head with a ribbon, for instance—were the wittiest. She may have possessed the poise of a First Lady, but in the company of children, she was the soul of spontaneity.

Despite the fame, the power, the wealth that surrounded them, and the tragedy that molded their lives, Jackie gave her children a sense of joy: She gathered their friends into the White House and later into the sanctuary of her New York City apartment; she doted on their birthday parties—even John Jr.'s third, which she refused to cancel despite its falling on the day of JFK's funeral.

And against all odds, she maintained for them a climate of normality. As she once told Kennedy biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin, shepherding Caroline and John into a happy adulthood was "the best thing I have ever done."

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