Author’s note: Happy mothers day to all of my fellow mothers. I’m dedicating this chapter of Jeri’s story to all mothers. It doesn’t matter if you have one child or ten, if you’re a mother, you know what it is to love and to fear at the same time. You know that your worst nightmare would be losing a child, but at the same time you know that some day you’ll have to let them go and live their own lives. It’s difficult being a mom. Whether you work or stay at home with your children, you are always thinking about whether or not you’re doing what is best for them. We mothers forget that sometimes we need to take time for ourselves. On this day, they honor us. Don’t feel guilt if you take time for yourself. Get pampered. Accept the burnt toast and lukewarm coffee from your children. Let your husband cook and your kids do the cleaning. Enjoy this blog and any others and just enjoy your day. I know that I am.
Actress Jeri Fields never regretted inviting Pascal Morel, their French exchange student, into her home.
“While Pascal Morel stayed at our house, we treated him like he was one of our children. He ate with us, did chores around the house, he played darts or Gnubb or swam in our pool.
We could see that he had feelings for Glenna, but they were innocent. I don’t think anyone suspected Pascal of doing anything to betray our trust in him.”
But the Fields didn’t know that while he seemed to be entranced with their daughter Glenna, he was also quite flirtatious with her twin, Candace.
“They’d flirt. I mean, I saw that, but Pascal was never overtly affectionate toward Candy. She told me it was nothing when I asked her about it. I believed her. But I couldn’t help feeling jealous.”
Sisters who had once been so close began to fight about the French boy.
“I had never seen the girls fight before. I didn’t know how to solve the problem. It was a relief when Pascal finally went back to France. I know that Glenna was sorry, but it would allow the girls to mend their relationship.”
But Pascal’s leaving did not have the affect that Jeri wanted. Instead she discovered that Candace was pregnant.
“If anything, things got worse when Pascal left. Candace was pregnant. It was something that couldn’t be denied. She didn’t even try. She just came and told us about it and asked us if we still loved her.
Of course we still loved her! She was our daughter, how could we not. But her pregnancy did complicate things in our family.”
“Candy refused to name the father, but I knew it was Pascal. She wouldn’t say she was sorry or anything and she had this look in her eye. I think she did it to show me that Pascal didn’t really love me.
Eventually I forgave her for what happened. She wouldn’t say, but I knew she was sorry. She’d confide in me that she was scared to have the baby. She didn’t think she’d be a good mother. ‘You’d be a better mother than me’ she would say to me.”
Jeri Fields was happy that her daughters had made up with each other, but during Candace’s pregnancy she found out some alarming news of her own.
“I was pregnant, too. It came as a shock to me. An unpleasant one because while I was always happy to welcome another child into my family, I’d been warned by my doctors after having so many complications with Nick that I shouldn’t have more kids.
“Phillip and I were both worried. He brought up concerns about my health and my career. These concerns bothered us both. The only thing we could do was follow our doctor’s orders and take one day at a time.”
To ease some of the burden on his wife, Phillip hired a live-in nanny to help with taking care of the younger children and to allow Jeri to stay off her feet.
“I wasn’t sure about hiring Lucy, but she was a godsend! She was so great with the babies and was a fabulous cook!”
While both Jeri and Candace were pregnant, Jeri’s second son, Jamie, grew up and joined the military.
“The most surprising thing about Jamie joining the military was him cutting his hair! I never thought it would happen.”
Soon after, Jamie proposed to and married his long-time girlfriend, Terry Kwan.
“We weren’t surprised that Jamie and Terry got married so quickly. He couldn’t wait to get out on his own. Her father had recently passed away and Terry was living alone. Jamie planned to move in with her. Phillip and I were excited and pleased with their marriage. We couldn’t wait to be grandparents again. Aaron and Felicia still only had their one son, Alexey. We wanted lots of grandchildren.”
“No, neither of us thought it was odd that we’d have children as young or younger than our grandchildren. Some families are like that. I’d grown up with no family. It didn’t matter that I was almost an elder and we’d be having another baby.”
But Phillip had a lot to worry about. Despite taking it easy, Jeri went into labor a lot sooner than she had expected. Candace, who was a lot farther along than her mother, still hadn’t experienced even Braxton Hicks contractions.
“I thought I was probably going into false labor, but then I realized it was the real thing and I started screaming for Phillip.”
Unlike even her youngest son Nick’s complicated delivery, Jeri’s last delivery was the worst. The baby was still breach and she was only at 30 weeks.
“My doctors were wonderful. The baby was coming and we knew it. The doctors didn’t try to stop it. Instead I had an emergency C-section. Phillip stayed with me the whole time.”
“Scariest thing I’ve ever done. I’m not brave, but I had to support my wife. The whole time I kept praying that both she and our daughter would be ok.”
“Actually everything was fine for me. I was fine. But Jenna, our sweet little girl, was not. The doctors didn’t even let us hold her. They just rushed her away.”
Little Jenna Fields needed a lot of care as an infant. She stayed in the NICU for four weeks before Jeri and Phillip were allowed to take her home.
“It was just such a relief when they finally let her come home with us. We were exhausted, but so happy.”
During the time that Phillip and Jeri were traveling back and forth between their home and the hospital, their son Nick turned five.
“It was hard to believe he was getting so big. We took the time to have a party for him, but our minds were not as focused on it as he deserved them to be. I just hope that Nick knew we loved him as much as we always had in the past.”
“I knew mom and dad were spending a lot of time with baby Jenna at the hospital. All my sisters and brothers and Nanny Lucy spent time with me. People thought that I was being neglected. Mom said the paparazzi wrote articles about it, but I didn’t know that I wasn’t getting as much attention.”
Jeri’s other daughter, Micki’s birthday came after Jeri and Phillip came home with Jenna.
“We were able to throw her a proper party with all of her friends present. I couldn’t have been prouder of Micki! She was so beautiful. She reminded me more of my cousin Hannah than me, but that’s because she got Phillip’s darker coloring.”
During Micki’s party, Candace Fields’ water finally broke. Unlike her mother, Candace’s pregnancy had gone later than the normal 40 weeks.
“I knew Candace was uncomfortable. It’s hard at 9 months to walk around and do things normally. You just can’t wait for it all to be over.”
Candace had asked that her sister Glenna be at the hospital with her and help her through labor and delivery.
“I didn’t mind. It was only natural that she wanted Glenna there. The two were always so close.”
“I drove my sister to the hospital and was her coach. It was indescribable. I don’t know how women can do that! I watched as my niece came into the world. How amazing is that! But Candy didn’t seem as awed and excited by the moment as I was. She said, ‘She should have been yours, Glen.’
I told her she was crazy, and that her daughter was beautiful. ‘Our daughter,’ she said. I’m not sure why. I guess it’s because we were twins. Maybe she wanted me to share in the moment with her. Women say strange things when they’re giving birth, I thought at the time.”
Candace’s strange behavior continued, though, once she brought her daughter, Lila, home.
“It was sad, really. I thought that Candace must be going through some sort of post-partum depression. She wouldn’t take care of Lila except to feed her. Glenna, Phillip, Lucy and I cared for the infant more.”
Caring for Candace’s daughter wasn’t easy with her own daughter who needed her. Jeri’s youngest daughter Jenna’s problems continued as she got older.
“We noticed differences in Jenna right away. The doctors said that she might not have fully developed before she was born. They warned that she might be slower to develop or might have mental retardation as she matured.”
“It didn’t matter. We loved our daughter. We knew she had special needs, but that made us love her even more.”
Jeri and Phillip hoped that things would get better for Candace and that she’d get over her depression, but by her birthday Candace was still not herself.
“I just wanted her to snap out of it. It was her birthday, but she wasn’t happy. We’d thrown a huge party at the Watering Hole in the hopes that she’d be excited, but she wasn’t.”
“Things with Candy and I were pretty tense on our birthday. She would hardly talk to me. She hadn’t held Lila for weeks. She’d stopped breastfeeding months earlier. It was like she was trying to pretend that Lila didn’t exist, but when I confronted her about it, she told me to leave her alone.”
During the party, the sisters exchanged heated words when Glenna mentioned her daughter.
“I’m not sure what they said to each other, but Glenna was very upset and Candace left the party early.”
The party broke up soon after the argument, and the family returned home.
“Phillip and Glenna went up to check on the girls. I went to see if I could find Candace to figure out what was wrong.”
Candace was nowhere to be found.
Geri and her family were devastated to discover that Candace had not only left the party, but she’d left the city as well.
“It would hit me all at once, you know? She’d just disappeared—run away. But she was an adult, so what could I really do about it? I mean, it was her right to leave. Aaron and Jamie both had left the house.
But Candace…she’d just gone. There was no trace of her. It was like she’d died.”
“We filed a Missing Person’s report, of course. After she’d been gone for 48 hours, the police were willing to at least attempt to find her. But we didn’t have much hope.”
Phillip did his best to comfort his wife, but Candace’s loss affected her deeply.
“I didn’t understand it. She’d left Lila and Glenna and all of us. There wasn’t a bit of evidence that the police could find to follow her trail. She had dropped off the face of the earth, or so it seemed.
I did many press releases asking for any word of my daughter, but there was none. The press speculated that she might have been kidnapped or murdered.”
Everyone in the Fields family feared the worst except for Glenna, Candace’s sister.
“I was just as devastated as everyone else. I couldn’t believe that my twin was gone, but I didn’t feel that it had been under violent circumstances. In my heart, I thought I’d know if my sister had been hurt or killed. No, I suspected that she had run away, which was our first suspicion.
We fought on our birthday. I think she’d just had enough. She ran.”
Perhaps it was this belief that her sister was out there somewhere that had Glenna Fields enter the profession of Private Investigator.
“I knew I could find my sister. The police and my parents had given up, but I knew that I’d be able to find her someday. I missed my sister, but more than that, I wanted to tell her how I felt about what she’d done…what she’d done to Mom and Dad, to me, and most especially to Lila.”
Jeri didn’t know what to make of Glenna’s professional choice, but she was glad that someone was not giving up.
“It wouldn’t have been so bad if the press wasn’t always bringing it up. I couldn’t go anywhere without Candace being mentioned. Every time someone asked me if I thought she was still alive, it was a dagger to my heart. I wanted to believe…but it was hard.”
Jeri continued to work, though, trying to keep up her normal life despite the uncertainty of her daughter’s disappearance.
“I had to. I had other children who needed me. I had fans…people who looked up to me…to please and show that I was a strong person. I had to keep going with my life.”
“And there was Lila. It wasn’t fair to dwell so much on her mother when she needed our support even more.”