Kamilah Kashanie (KK):
Time now for StoryCorps…
Back in 2016, Jennifer Hidrogo, a single mother of five, moved into a new apartment building…
…where her new neighbor, Glendon “Junior” Booth, was also raising three young kids…
The two families spent a lot of time together…
Jennifer Hidrogo (JH): He was scared about what would happen to the kids if he died. And I remember telling him, ‘look, I know that this would be a big responsibility, but I would be willing to take them if something happened to you’.
KK: About a year later, Junior was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. That’s when Jen made him a promise.
Charlee (CR): Were you scared to move in with us?
LilyRose: I would admit I was. I thought my whole life was ruined. I was like, ‘I can’t live without my dad. There’s no way I can live with my neighbor.’ Even though we were close, I’m like, ‘This is still a stranger to me.’ But my fear was when my dad died that I was going to probably end up in foster care and I didn’t want that to happen to me. And I knew that my whole life was going to change.
CR: Yeah, it made me have to grow up faster because all of a sudden, I had little siblings and I had to step up. It just changed so much and, like, I had to share my mom with three other kids.
LR: And we got raised differently. We didn’t have the same rules.
JH: That’s been tough for me. But I mean, we’re doing it, right?
CR: You know, we fight sometimes because we’re siblings. When I talk to y’all, I say ‘Mom’. Like, it’s not like I say, ‘my mom’. It’s like, we’re all just a family. It’s normal.
When we had the adoption ceremony, I was happy ‘cause it was official that you’re my sister.
LR: I didn’t have my dad there. And I felt like I was moving on. But honestly, I’m not because I still think about him all the time. It was such a happy moment.
JH: Y’all became officially my babies that day. Y’all had already been that to me. But to have all of y’all there, all my eight kids [laughs], that was beautiful to me.
CR: I’m just very, very thankful for you and that you’re my mom. You’re like the backbone of everything.
LR: I kind of feel the same way.
JH: Well I’m thankful for that, for sure. It’s been a hard road for all of us. But it is growing us in so many ways, you know? And y’all are the best parts of that.