The Legacy Project | Week One: The Beginning

Francesca Russell is a photographer and filmmaker (and mom) out of Long Island and I've been following her work since I was in a street photography class with her last year. She is the queen of projects and when she shared her latest one earlier this month, I knew I had to jump on board. The Legacy Project was born out of Francesca's desire to write all her own family stories down, to be shared and passed onto her children as they get older. If I stay on track, I'll have a new post every two weeks on the blog, following the prompts Francesca gives us in The Legacy Project group! I hope to print these stories and photos in an album once I complete the project. So, without further ado...

it's a girl

Week One

What do you know about the day you were born? Where were you born? How did you get your name?

I was born on September 30, 1987 to William Whitten Cox & Coryn Brennan Cox. I turned to my mom to tell the story of the day I was born! In her words:

On Tuesday, September 29, 1987, I was 14 days past my due date with my first pregnancy. Bill and I headed to Martin Memorial Hospital (in Stuart, Florida) to forever change our lives by becoming a family of three. I was scheduled to be induced. The labor room had two beds with a curtain separating them. There was another expectant mother in labor alongside me. While we were both striving for drug free natural births, she was screaming for drugs by mid afternoon. My progress was slower and my contractions didn't become really productive until early evening.

At that time my doctor, Dr. Heidi McNaney had completed her office hours and from about 6:00 p.m. on she never left my side. Around 10:00 p.m., I was ready to push, so they wheeled my bed into a delivery room and I had to move from my bed to a delivery table.

After two hours of pushing, and after midnight, Mary Colleen was born. She was perfect. 

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my birthday

As the nurse, who was also named Mary, was cleaning her up, the Dr. and she talked about what a nice name Mary is. We had no idea whether our baby would be a boy or girl, so we had chosen two different names. The boys name we had chosen had included a family name from Bill's family and our girl's name choice was after my mom (Mary Riley Brennan) and also after my best friend (Colleen White).


Colleen (left) and my mom (right)

Colleen (left) and my mom (right)

Growing up, I didn't realize the significance of my name and didn't love it, but as I have gotten older, I have come to appreciate it so much and take pride in it. I was named after two incredible ladies - one which I have never had the opportunity to get to know, Colleen. She was my mom's best friend, and she had followed my mom down to Florida (from New York) after college. The last time my mom talked to her was on mom's 21st birthday - September 28th, 1983. Five days later, the "accident" happened. It was a day that changed my mom's life forever. Colleen and her sister,  Liz, were involved in a tragic accident. Liz was killed and though Colleen survived, she suffered a traumatic brain injury and has spent the last 34 years of her life in hospitals, nursing homes, and a group home. My mom described Colleen as an emotional person who loved deeply. She was funny, sassy and quick witted. 


Mom, Mimi & me

Mom, Mimi & me

I'm also proud to be named after my mimi, Mary Riley Brennan, who I got to spend seventeen years with before she passed away of kidney failure in 2005. Like Colleen, she was a firecracker - blunt and witty, there was never a dull moment around her. She had "busy hands" and was always cross-stitching, playing cards or knitting. She loved traveling to Disney World and Hawaii.


What was going on in 1987 - THIRTY years ago?!

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  • Ronald Reagan was president.
  • Full House debuted!
  • Gas averaged 89 cents a gallon.
  • The world population reached 5 billion.
  • "Didn't We Almost Have it All" by Whitney Houston was at the top of the Billboard chart.