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Chris Raymond

Eisenhower's "Icky" Son

By December 21, 2012

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Doud Eisenhower gravemarker

Dwight Eisenhower never recovered from the death of his three-year-old son, Doud Dwight "Icky" Eisenhower, on January 2, 1921.

After marrying the love of his life, Mamie Doud, just five months after proposing to her on Valentine's Day 1916, the future U.S. president and his wife eagerly awaited the birth of their first child. On September 24, 1917, Mamie gave birth to Doud in Texas -- shortly after the entrance of the United States into World War I.

Moving frequently because of Eisenhower's military deployment during this time, the family relocated to Fort Meade in Maryland. There, Mamie hired a 16-year-old girl as a servant in the family home.

Shortly before Christmas in 1920, Icky contracted scarlet fever. He died roughly two weeks later -- apparently catching the disease from the servant girl. Because neither Dwight nor Mamie had checked the girl's background, neither one knew she was recovering from the disease at the time she was hired.

Reflecting on the loss of his child later, Eisenhower said, "There's no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were."

Do you think a parent ever really recovers from the loss of a child, regardless of how much time passes? Please post your opinions in the comments section below.

Photo Brian John Haas/Creative Commons

Comments
December 22, 2012 at 6:59 am
(1) Sue says:

In a parent’s mind, the natural course of things is that you die before your precious child. The pain is so deep that there are moments you can’t even breathe or the guilt that you are still enjoying the things in life that he can no longer share overwhelms you. But…you continue to breathe in and breathe out and you find a place where you can keep your sadness and manage the pain.

No recovery, just managing.

October 10, 2013 at 9:26 pm
(2) catsissie says:

My third brother was born just before mom’s pregnancy was five months along, and he lived two days. He was able to be named, and my parents were hoping he would be strong enough in late 1949 to be able to survive. But he didn’t survive. We have all been told about him, and knew his name, even those born after him. We believe in life after death, and that we will see our brother again someday. All these years mom and our father (while he was still with us) have mentioned him in conversation, recognizing his place in the family constellation.

December 7, 2013 at 2:10 pm
(3) Krissie says:

My first (and so far only) son passed away this past August. I know my pain is still fresh, but after speaking with bereaved parents who’ve endured this pain for much longer, I can honestly say it is a hell we have to walk through for the rest of our lives. It’s natural to bury a parent or even a few peers here or there, but to bury your child is unnatural and feels so unreal. Every day for months, I keep waking up hoping it was all just a terrible dream, and every day reality falls heavily upon me once more. I cry, I grieve, I mourn, I am expected to do things I did before but I am not the same nor will I ever be. The sounds and screams of missing your beloved child are much louder than you ever knew you could make, but they are so loud because of the strange silence that has fallen upon your life. It messes you up, forever.

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