NEW YORK (AP) _ The intensely private Caroline Kennedy, thrust into a public moment Friday outside her brother's memorial Mass, rolled down her limousine window to oblige a throng of strangers with a stoic smile and a wave.

The recipients of her brief salute honored her, in turn, with a small burst of applause and a tide of enthusiastic waves in her direction.

``She's a real lady,'' said Eva Wiener, 70.

The spectators were aware of the significance of the moment: They were in the presence of the last remaining member of the family that resided in the White House until President Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963.

Terry Ancona, 55, a New York teacher, considers herself a child of the 1960s who grew up, in a way, with the Kennedys.

``When she smiled and waved, I was just blown away,'' she said.

Steve Dixon, 42, an accountant, held a small American flag on a wooden stick as Ms. Kennedy passed en route to a post-service reception, capping what he described as a ``wrenching experience this past week.''

Much has been said about Ms. Kennedy's penchant for privacy _ she spelled out a legal argument for it in a 1995 book she co-authored and titled, ``The Right to Privacy'' _ and her role in planning her brother's private burial at sea and the private memorial Mass in Manhattan.

She remained isolated with her husband and her three children in their Long Island home for most of the week after John F. Kennedy Jr.'s plane crashed into the Atlantic.

Mindful of that, the crowd outside the church found comfort in Ms. Kennedy's wave. They saw it as a sign that the Kennedys knew they were grieving, too.

``His family,'' said Pearl Higgins of Kearny, N.J., with a nod of satisfaction, ``was glad we're here.''