As a mother myself, when I hear about the death of a child it brings terror to my heart. It physically hurts to think about a child dying. I have been thinking about this alot today because a young girl (15) that we know was killed in an auto accident overnight. When I saw the news (on Facebook of course) I immediately wanted to check to see where my own teenage daughters were – I wanted to pull them back into my safe arms away from danger. I think that is probably a typical reaction for a mother to have.
As a history lover I read often about child mortality rates throughout history. Before vaccinations, sanitary education, and child labor laws mortality rates were much higher. I read about parents in the middle ages who didn’t even name their children until they made it to the age of two because so many of them died. And this was one of the reasons families had so many children, because it was probable that at least one of them might not make it out of childhood. When you read these things you don’t really think about the heart of the mothers in that time. Sure, it was more commonplace but just because you might know that it was likely that your child might die did that mean a mother cared any less than mothers do today? Did not naming a child until they were two really spare them any heart break? I believe every child that dies takes a large chunk of a mother’s heart with him or her.
So today, I think it is appropriate to share the obituary of little Ray Tracy. Ray was my grandmother Mabel’s older brother. She was only a baby when the accident happened and he was three. Following is the obituary published in the York Newspaper, October 5, 1905.
“A sad accident occurred at the home of Wesley Tracey on Thursday evening Mr. Tracey’s little 3 year-old boy was lying asleep on the floor near the cupboard, when the little girl climbed up to the cupboard to get a book. In some way a bottle of carbolic acid was knocked down and broken, the contents going on the little boy’s head and running into his ears. The little sufferer lived only fifteen minutes after the accident. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord. Little children surely die in the Lord. Mr. Tracey and family have the sympathy of all in their sad bereavement.”
Every time I read this story I am heart broken for my great grandmother. How helpless she must have felt. I have heard that this accident changed my great grandfather’s life. He went from being a partying man to being a sober, hard working church man. There is a family picture taken soon after this incident and I imagine I can see a sad look in all of their eyes.