Many of us talk about Kirk Fordice; but few in Mississippi actually knew the man that ushered in an era of Republican dominance in the state. As a high school senior, I interned for him during his first term as governor; a role I repeated in college during his second term. During his final year in office I served as political director at the Mississippi Republican Party and remember smiling out the window as I watched our governor in shorts and tall socks walk his lab, Lance, down Congress Street in Jackson with a pistol strapped to his side. I’ve heard colorful and humorous stories about Fordice from friends, family and his staff. But even when you combine conversations with those who knew him with thousands of newspaper articles and videos with WLBT’s Bert Case facing explicit threats, it is difficult to really know Kirk Fordice.
“We End in Joy: Memoirs of a First Daughter” by Angela Fordice Jordan provides a peek into the personal side of the late governor. Jordan makes it clear this is her story and her memories of her mother and father. She writes in the introduction, “please don’t get caught up in fact checking…I’m just going to tell you what it felt like, how it still feels – the truth of that is what interests me.” She describes herself as an archeologist digging for evidence and answers to the questions that create the narrative of the book.
Jordan gives an honest, exposed look at her life as the daughter of Kirk and Pat Fordice. Much of the book, published by University Press of Mississippi, reads like the cathartic journal of a woman facing the challenges of divorce in her parents’ marriage and her own; the diminishing of her strong father and the anguish of her brave mother as they both battled sickness and faded from the public spotlight and passed away; and how she and her brothers lost and found joy.
Jordan adored her fallible father while rejecting his politics; and revered her gracious mother while declining her social protocols. She relates their love affair from early courting days, through their life building a family and a career, into the Governor’s Mansion, the divorce and “The Other Woman,” and Kirk’s clumsy “pick-up line” to re-enter Pat’s life and ultimately their reconciliation, final days, and how they came to buried together.