Virginia’s journey to motherhood began in the mid 70’s when she and her husband Larry welcomed their first child, a son, they named Joe. Five years later they welcomed their daughter, Linda. Big brother Joe soon found that even though he had a little sister, she would soon become his favorite playmate. Being a mother came easy to Virginia. She and Larry enjoyed raising their two children in the beauty of Washington State. She balanced working full time at a grocery store while raising the kids. She especially cherished their dinner time as a family- all conversation and no TV! They loved exploring outdoors, hiking, hunting, camping, and riding motorcycles. Inevitably, the kids grew up. Linda and Joe both graduated from high school and set off to start their lives. Despite their growing up, the family remained close. Most especially, Virginia and Linda- the two became the best of friends.
In 2007, Virginia became a grandmother to Lauren, Joe’s daughter. Virginia shares, “It was one of the greatest moments in my life.” Not long after, Linda and her fiance Mark, would share they too were expecting! This time, Virginia would welcome a grandson.
However, it would soon come to be that the gift of her second grandchild would result in the devastating loss of her daughter. Virginia shares, “On May 30, 2008, Linda delivered her baby boy by C-section due to a prolapsed cord.” But something had gone terribly wrong during the delivery. “At first the doctor came in and said to start praying. Thirty minutes later, the doctor came back in looking down, shuffling his feet not knowing what or how to say anything. Larry asked, Is she gone? The doctor nodded his head and quietly replied, ‘Yes’. Just forty minutes after our grandson, Mason, was born our daughter Linda was gone.”
The hours following would be life-changing for Virginia and Larry. Struck with the most unimaginable grief they suddenly learned the realities of Washington State laws. Since Linda and Mark were not yet married and because Linda was not able to sign the birth certificate naming Mark as the father, the hospital had 2 options; give the baby to the state or give the baby to the nearest relative. 14 hours after his birth, Virginia and Larry took Mason home.
Virginia and Larry laid their daughter to rest and cherished her lasting and perfect gift to them. Virginia shares, “the pain and grief was so strong, my heart physically hurt! Mason was NEVER a burden, he saved us. There was a baby that needed parents and parents that needed love. He is part of my daughter and I wanted nothing but good for him, so we raised him. How could I not love him as my own?”
Virginia quit her job to be a stay at home Grandma and Larry postponed his retirement for a few extra years. Within the first week Mason was put on Larry’s health insurance plan. Five months later they received legal custody. They have honored Linda and share stories of her with Mason. They share funny stories of Linda getting into mischief – like the time she nearly lost their car in the ocean. She also shares the music Linda loved and tells Mason how beautifully his mom sang. Most especially, when she sang “Babygirl” by Sugarland at Virginia’s 50th surprise birthday party. They regularly visit Linda’s resting place and lay flowers or holiday decorations. They also have a wonderful relationship with Mark, Mason’s dad, who visits when he can.
Virginia has also been a tireless champion for the AFE Foundation. She has shared her journey with us with an openness that few could do. The sharing of her grief has allowed us to better understand the needs of our grieving families. She has been with us since the beginning of our organization and remains to be one of our biggest supporters and cheerleaders.
In 2012, Virginia traveled from Washington state across the country to join the Runnin’ 4 Rocco team- a fundraiser to benefit the AFE Foundation in honor of Teresa Clark Di Pietro. There she connected to other families grieving the loss of their loved ones. It was incredibly healing and so nice to connect face-to-face with others who understood what we were dealing with”, says Virginia.
In 2013, Virginia along with her sisters and nieces joined one another in Ohio for the 1st Annual Paula Mounts Krejci Memorial 5K, another fundraiser to benefit AFE research. Her family surprised her with specially made t-shirts honoring Linda. throughout the walk, they shared funny and loving stories of Linda and their family. Virginia says, “having events such as these have proven so helpful in honoring my daughter and sharing her memory with others.”
In addition to all of the support and participation at events, Virginia remains very active in the support groups. She is always there to encourage the newest members and to remind everyone of the importance of supporting our research and submitting their cases to the registry.
Mason, who turns 7 at the end of the month, is a happy and healthy little boy. He is thriving under the care of Virginia and Larry. He is like his mom in so many ways and is enjoying being a cub scout.
We think Virginia is the ULTIMATE mom! Please join us in wishing Mason a very Happy Birthday and honoring the very special moms in his life.