Knowing what I know about my mother, Lillian, and grandmother, Susan, makes me appreciate my life as a mom.
Lillian and Susan both lost children under different circumstances.
Lillian was forced to give me up for adoption. Her husband insisted on it, knowing in his gut that I was not his child (He was right. My sister Michelle’s DNA test confirmed we have different fathers.) It must have been painful for her to endure a pregnancy, deliver a healthy baby and hand her newborn over to a couple of strangers. How did Lillian feel going home to her husband and four little kids with no baby in her arms? Maybe it was relief mixed with sadness.
Thirteen years later, my brother, Joey, ended his life after things went south with a girlfriend. Lillian, who was battling alcoholism and bipolar disorder, went downhill after her Joey’s death at age 18.
Losing loved ones was nothing new for Lillian. My mother lived with foster families when she was a girl. In 1940, four-year-old Lillian and her three-year-old brother, Eric, were “welfare children,” the Census Bureau’s label. They were the only children living in a middle-aged couple’s home in Daviess County, Indiana. Their 52-year-old foster dad worked in road construction.