Constantly reminded that she was different and abandoned by the father of her child, Alison Lapper wasn’t going to let anything stop her from being a loving mother to her baby boy. Born with no arms and shortened legs because of a condition known as phocomelia, Alison Lapper lived out her childhood in institutions and after believing that she may never become a mother, she overcame everything that came her way when her son, Parys Lapper, came into her life.
“I had been pregnant in my 20s, had miscarried four times and had always assumed that becoming a mother was not a possibility for me,” Alison Lapper said in My Life In My Hands, an edited excerpt of which was published in The Guardian. “But when I became pregnant again in April 1999 I knew I wasn’t going to miscarry. I was very fit and healthy and everything in my body and brain felt right.”
She made it through moments of doubt where she wondered, “How would I support and look after a baby on my own as a single mother?”
Despite all the odds stacked up against her, she decided to keep the baby. While she was pregnant, she even posed for Marc Quinn, who created a marble sculpture of the woman who didn’t need four limbs to turn her life into an inspiring story. The sculpture was displayed at Trafalgar Square from 2005 to late 2007.
But the moment baby Parys was resting on her, everything fell into place. She said, “When my baby boy was born, I was euphoric. He was healthy, he was cute, he was a blessed miracle.”
“When I saw him, I just cried and cried,” she said, weeks after her son’s birth in 2000, as reported by Mail Online. “The emotions I felt were indescribable. I had never imagined I was going to be a mother, never thought it could be possible. But when they placed him on my shoulder and I gave him a little kiss on his head and said ‘hello’, I was overwhelmed.”
Alison Lapper journeyed on with her son and charted out her career as an artist. She received a first-class honors degree in fine art at Brighton University and was awarded an MBE for services to art in 2003. She was even awarded an honorary doctorate at Brighton in 2014. But of all the things she is most proud of, her son tops the list and she called him, “my greatest piece of artwork and creation.”
What 54-year-old Alison Lapper, never expected was to have her son taken away from her before she could watch him make his way through adulthood.
Her fiance, Si Clift wrote on Facebook, “Tragically, her son Parys Lapper, who was only 19 years old, died suddenly a week ago… Ali fought many battles against the establishment to keep Parys, bringing him up by herself in some very difficult circumstances indeed and continued to fight for him through his teenage years.”
He described the young man as “a mischievous, generous, kind, loving, frustrating, cheeky, forgiving, beautiful boy. He was his own man. He was a good son.” According to The Independent, her late son was bullied by his schoolmates about her disability. She was told by police he may have died of an overdose.
As a grieving mother, Alison Lapper had one wish for her son’s final journey. Si Clift wrote, “Ali has expressed a dear wish that she would absolutely love to see as many noisy Motorbikes as possible to escort Parys on his final journey from her home in Shoreham by sea to Worthing Crematorium on Thursday 29th to celebrate his life ( he would have loved this too! )”
When Parys was five, Alison Lapper said about her relationship with her son, “…we’ve been through a lot together. I am the only person who has been constantly in his life since he was born. My disability hasn’t ever created a barrier between us…”
But after fighting hard to raise him, it’s an unimaginably painful barrier that has now separated the mother from her son forever.