Unacknowledged Ghosts

Deborah Hempstead

In the book, It Didn’t Start With You by Mark Wolynn, he asks – Is there a person no one talks about ?

Deborah was run over and killed by a teenager driver, a member of the Doubleday publishing family, while crossing the road with her younger sister, Eleanor.  Her story does survive or else I wouldn’t know this but did the family talk about her ?

The death of my paternal grandmother Dolores’ oldest sister would have certainly left behind grieving parents.

My grandmother is born only about a year after that tragic event.  Then Dolores’ mother dies 3 mos after giving birth to her.  There is just the heavy sorrow in that family including in Eleanor, the middle child.  She would have been very young when this happened, perhaps pre-verbal and maybe didn’t receive very much comfort or attention due to the intensity of all that happened.  I don’t really know.  She is a sad person, never married, died alone of tuberculosis in a state hospital and cremated.

So, this “ghost” is a painful thing for everyone in the family but more conscious in Eleanor, more unconscious in Delores.

I wonder how Dolores dealt with all that grief, that sorrow ?

Did she reject her father ?  I don’t know.  He remarried.  Men of that era were not heavily involved in child care but it seems rather certain from stories and from her stepmother’s will that Josephine was not very fond of her step-daughters.  It is likely that, Raphael, Dolores’ father would have been in a terrible grief and depression for some time, if he ever truly got over those losses.

It is no surprise that I am fascinated by Deborah.  I was given the same name as the oldest daughter of my father, even though he never knew of his aunt’s existence.

The author as a young child.


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