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A Mother’s Memoir

In my book, Living, Loving, and Losing a Son, I tell the story of my relationship with my first-born son, Robert Rauth Jr. Robb died unexpectedly at the age of thirty-seven in April of 1997 after a four week trip to Africa, specifically Namibia and Ghana. The preface introduces this fact and touches on the main themes of the book: That Robb and I grew up together, the ways in which being a very young wife and mother impacted my life, and the tragedy of my son’s death. I speak of our shared similarities, our love of adventure, and introduce the other members of the immediate family. I then speculate about how I will endure the tragedy.


The first three chapters take us back to the beginning of our story, showing myself as an unwed and pregnant college student. The difficult choices I had to make, setting aside my college career and the carefree college life I’d loved. However, when our perfect baby boy was born, Bob, my husband, and I were filled with joy and wonder. Then it was on to raising the child, living for a year and a half with my Polish mother-in-law on the South side of Chicago, and my struggle to adjust to a very different way of life.

I cover Robb’s life, his growing up, his love for sports, especially baseball and hockey. It was hockey that kept Robb on the straight and narrow from the time he was seven-years-old on through high school. We never had to worry much about what he was up to as he grew to be a teenager; he would be either studying, playing one of his sports, or watching pro teams play theirs. Our many re locations over the years from Chicago to Detroit, Detroit to Hartford, Connecticut and back to Detroit were difficult for Robb, Susan, Elizabeth, and Jeffrey as well.

A Book About Grief, and About Recovery

The chapters alternate between the stories about Robb and the family, to my stories, my running a garbage business for eighteen years while raising four children. The relationship between Bob and myself, our struggles in that department, our adventure and misadventures with scuba diving, my decision at forty-eight to go back to school and get a Bachelor’s degree, and lastly, my need to eventually search for a way to further improve and empower myself, after Robb’s death.

Robb’s First Trip To Africa

When Robb graduated from high school, he followed his father’s footsteps by also attending Northwestern University. It was at the end of his junior year that he decided to take a six week accredited trip to Kenya with twenty-three other students and two professors. This visit  to Africa changed Robb’s life in many ways, eventually leading him to spend his working life in at least fifteen different countries, most of them African countries and often under dangerous conditions.

But the book always goes back to Robb.  His death and the aftermath, our ordeal in dealing with the death—the cruel blow of having a child die before us—the wrenching pain that we thought would never end. How we made our way through the long, dark tunnel of grief. How we learned to accept the death without ever forgetting him and his endearing ways. How I went on without him, more and more savoring the memories of Robb, letting go finally of the grief and sadness.

Living, Loving, and Losing a Son, is a mothers memoir about her son that died much to early.  By reading how our family went through the death of Robb, it will surely do some good for you and your family.  Hope is an important thing…


Marilyn Rauth

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