17 September 2015

In a Small Box, Amongst Boxes

I made a sad discovery while going through this last set of boxes.  At the bottom of a smaller box was this card:

Kevin's mom delivered a child before his brother.  (Kevin is the youngest, although most people guess he's the oldest.)  This baby, a boy, was a Thalidomide baby, so he didn't fully develop.  I'm unclear if he died in utero or shortly after birth.   Kevin's mom said that she saw him, like a glimpse, even though they wouldn't let her have him.

We have never asked what happened to the baby. Only once have I heard her talk about it.  Now, with her health, I'm not sure we would get a clear answer. It was 1959, a small town, and they were poor so it's difficult to guess. There isn't a birth or death record on public record, which is puzzling. I've done an extensive search.  So, I was surprised to see the burial card.  It seems the only proof that this baby existed.

Being the research nerd that I am, I phoned the cemetery.  A wonderful woman named Allie answered my questions, as if the birth had just happened and not almost sixty years ago.  The impact of the information caught me off guard so much.  I just can't even.

The baby was born and died on January 14, 1959.  There isn't a gender indicated, which matches the Thalidomide baby description.  In case you don't know, they were called "Flipper babies" because their extremities didn't develop.  I'm guessing that they couldn't tell and Kevin's mom just chose a gender.  I don't know if she ever named the baby, I'm guessing not.

My plan is to drive out one day soon to the cemetery, where most of Kevin's family has been buried, to see if I can find him.  I suspect that there is no marker though.  Allie said that she could provide a map to show me exactly where he is buried.  I can see if there is a marker or if we need to get one.

I can't imagine that Kevin's mom has been out there to visit.  She was eighteen when this happened, her husband was on the road during the birth, and she didn't drive. Also, they moved to another county shortly after Kevin's birth, three years later, so it's not like she could just stop by.

I'm going to err on the side of caution and not mention any of this to her.  Her condition changes day-to-day and I just don't think it's a good idea to risk upsetting her.  If the opportunity ever arises, I will gingerly share what I've learned.  I know it's been upsetting for me and it's not even my blood relation.  

1 comment:

Swistle said...

Oh, that's so sad. And I love Allie from afar, and forever.