After the first few years, Elaine was feeling burned out. She was the first to leave the foundation. Mary Anna was next.
“Life just sort of takes you over,” Mary Anna said. “I remember talking to [Elaine] at the time, ‘I don’t understand. I just can’t go to another support group meeting. I just can’t sit there.’ And she said something to me that was the most intelligent thing that I’ve ever heard anybody say, and she said, ‘You’re done grieving.’ And I guess that sounds kind of selfish; but she’s right.”
Helena continued to lead the foundation and work with psychiatrists and other doctors to get the message out on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. But soon she found herself ready to hang up the reins and pass on the responsibility of the organization off to someone else. Soon after, the foundation was renamed Postpartum Support Charleston.
“The foundation has definitely made an impact,” Elaine said. “There are thousands of people, including doctors and nurses, who know more about PPD than they did before, and that’s because of the [foundation]. I hope it continues to be a beacon for new mothers and their families for a long time. I have learned so much about how to treat women who have PPD, and how to help them.”
Helena has been thankful that she has been able to maintain a good relationship with Joey, his second wife, Charli, and Andrew, who visit the area often when they are in town. Andrew is now 18, approaching the end of high school and has already joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Mary Anna hopes that Andrew knows how much he is loved among Ruth’s circle of friends and how much of his mother is embedded in his DNA.
“Joey, Charli and Andrew came and had dinner with us one night,” she said. “Andrew was just a baby, and all of a sudden he just breaks out in song. And I was like, ‘That’s your mother!’ She sang; she was in chorus. Now, after the Marines, he wants to go into music, and he sings now. And I thought, yeah, that’s his mom...
"And that’s another thing that drove a lot of the sadness and grief,” Mary Anna said. “That he would never know her and what a great person she was.”