Friday, March 21, 2008

I just finished listening to a TAL episode 352 called, "The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar". It is the story of how 4 year old Bobby Dunbar went missing in a swamp in Louisiana. Eight months later, he was found in the hands of a wandering handyman in Mississippi. Another woman claimed that the found boy was really her son, and was being looked after by the handyman. The case was taken to court, and the boy was given to the Dunbar family. In 2004, his granddaughter researched family legend and discovered that he was in fact the other woman's son. The amazing thing is that both mothers weren't sure at first glance if the boy in question was theirs. Both mothers were given a chance to identify the boy as their son, and they weren't sure.

This just blows my mind! How could a mother not know her child, even if he was gone for 8 months? I would know in a glance if someone took N (who is the same age as the missing boy) and then returned him to me. Even if they dyed his hair, or if he gained or lost weight, or grew 3 inches. I would know. By his teeth, his smile, the texture of his hair, his eyes, his birthmarks, the way he speaks. And if by some crazy chance I got the wrong boy? I would know he was not mine. But maybe this mother wanted the found boy to be her Bobby so much that she ignored her misgivings, and silenced her doubts, and finally came to believe that he was really her son.

My heart goes out to the real mother who blew her one chance of getting her son back. I can't imagine her heartache and grief. Her children say that she never forgot him, or ever got over the injustice done to her.

As a mother, the story really struck a chord with me. Imagining what both mothers went through as they each lost their sons. It is my worst nightmare to lose one of my children. Even thinking about it causes my insides to quake.

Although the story was heartbreaking, in the end, there was redemption.

It is definitely worth a listen.


Mehera said...

I heard this one, too. (I love This American Life, by the way!) I was really stuck by how many scientific advancements have been made since then. I really wasn't that long ago and I can't believe that they weren't able to prove whose son it was one way or the other!

EEEEMommy said...

Wow! I just can't imagine. It makes me think of a story I heard of someone losing a child at Disney. The parents were instructed to look at every child's eyes, and sure enough they found their child (who had been disguised). As much as I have studied my children's features, I can't imagine that I wouldn't know. And how would the boy not have known enough to say which was his mother! I can't even allow myself to consider the thought of losing one of my kids. Did you ever see the Deep End of the Ocean with Michelle Pfeiffer? Haunting and sobering.

I've never heard of TAL, I'll have to check it out.