Woman with dark hair and glasses

Deborah Jane Fitzgerald was born June 15, 1968, to Karen and Stanley Fitzgerald in Queens, New York. She was one of nine children of blue-collar workers and was given little attention or time from her parents. They often relied on Debbie to help with her younger siblings when her mother needed a hand.

As a result, Debbie grew up independent and self-reliant. At age sixteen, she found herself pregnant, abandoned by the boy who claimed to love her, and facing her angry and frustrated parents. Karen and Stanley sent her to Nebraska to stay with her Aunt Linda until the baby was born.

Debbie was never permitted to see the baby after she gave birth. She only knew it was a girl because one of the nurses told her. The infant was immediately adopted by a wealthy couple in the East.

Though her parents expected Debbie to return home afterward, she decided to remain in Lincoln. She never went back to school because she didn't believe it could teach her anything about real life. The doctors said she suffered from postpartum depression or what her aunt called the "baby blues." Her family expected Debbie to snap out of it, but she never seemed to.

For two years, Debbie worked in her aunt's dress shop, trying to learn the trade, but she had no talent for clothing or style, always looking as if she'd slept in the clothes she was wearing. She paid no attention to her appearance, her hair, or her skin.

In 1986, she left Nebraska and her aunt for parts unknown. She went to San Francisco for a while. She waitressed in various Texas truck stops. Finally, working in a rib joint in Chicago, she met a salesman named Sam, who was kind and funny and liked her just the way she was. Debbie was swept off her feet, and they married six months later.

Suddenly, everything seemed brighter. Debbie wanted to have a child to fill the empty spot left by the little girl she gave away, but it was not to be. Sam, gone weeks at a time on the road selling, was often waylaid by women he met in his travels. Debbie tried not to notice the "evidence" that Sam made no attempt to cover up, betraying his indiscretions. After two years, Debbie packed her bags and left, again for parts unknown.

Eventually, she ended up in Detroit. While working in a diner there, she heard the Ford plant was hiring, and she got a job on the assembly line. There, she met Marty Dumbrowski, a plain and overweight man who had a good heart but little else going for him.

They became friends, going out for beer and pizza and occasional bowling dates. When Marty proposed marriage after only six months, Debbie accepted, feeling that it was better to have someone than to live life alone.

Unlike Sam, Marty was faithful and attentive to his wife. They tried desperately to have a baby but to no avail. They even talked about adopting, but as a couple in their mid-forties with modest incomes, they found they would not easily qualify. The fact that the waiting list for a baby was over five years long also didn't do much to encourage them.

In 2015, Marty went out to get a pack of cigarettes for Debbie. As he pulled out of the convenience store parking lot, a drunk teenage driver ran a red light and slammed into him, killing himself and Marty on impact. That's when Debbie realized life was just hard, and it was never going to get any easier. She stopped worrying about how much she smoked or drank or ate. She just stopped caring.

Debbie drifted through life until God answered her prayers and provided an opportunity to reunite with the daughter she'd never known but always longed for. Life had meaning for her once again.

In February 2020, she moved to Oxford, Mississippi, where she works second shift at Whirlpool and is involved in the St Peter's Episcopal Church program for underprivileged children.

 

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