“It doesn’t matter if you lost your baby in 1951 or 2011, the grief is there,” Mrs. McMurrey’s granddaughter, Luci Mimms, said.
Mrs. McMurrey, now 91, decided she wanted to sponsor the butterfly garden planned as part of the Phase Two expansion project for the Children’s Park, a nonprofit that honors children who have died and gives their parents a place to grieve and remember them. The project has raised $437,000, but still has $200,000 to raise, executive director Jennifer Carson said.
“My greatest desire is for Julia to be able to see it,” Mrs. Carson said.
But with Mrs. McMurrey’s age and health issues, Mrs. Mimms and Mrs. Carson fear that won’t be a reality.
Four years ago, Mrs. Mimms was pondering what to get her grandmother for Christmas. She had previously learned about the Children’s Park at the corner of Dobbs and Broadway Avenue. She remembered that her grandmother had lost a daughter in 1951, only six weeks after she was born. Baby Martha Jill McMurrey was sent to Dallas for complications from spina bifida.
Her mother didn’t get to go with her and didn’t see her alive again.
“It was such a different time back then,” Mrs. Mimms said. “When couples lost a baby back then, women put on their pearls and went back to taking care of the family. There weren’t support groups. It wasn’t talked about.”
“She always talked about it kind of matter-of-factly,” Mrs. Mimms said.
When Mrs. McMurrey opened her Christmas present was the first time Mrs. Mimms had seen her grandmother show emotion about the loss.
Mrs. Carson remembered being there when Mrs. Mimms took her grandmother to see the stone with her baby’s name.
“I said, ‘What is it like to get this acknowledged 50 years later?’ She looked at me and tears just started rolling down her face,” Mrs. Carson said. “Grief lasts a long time.”
Both Mrs. Mimms and Mrs. Carson said they hoped others with similar stories would be able to find peace at the park.
“Do you know how many people there are in this community who probably have the same story?” Mrs. Carson said.