Emily Scarlett of WHBF-TV visited Robb’s parents, Lorney and Hattie Dussliere, in their East Moline home on Tuesday, August 11. She invited me to be there, so I hovered in the background. It was moving and educational, because I am still learning things about Robb 20 years later that I did not know.
I know from experience that the pain of losing a child never goes away completely, so I have always been able to identify with the Dussliere’s loss. There were tears and laughter as they remembered Robb and talked about their perspective on the Robb’s Life series after two decades. Robb was a funny guy with a mischievous sense of humor. He kept his homosexuality a secret from his family until he contracted HIV. The family learned about both at the same time.
Many parents react by distancing themselves from their gay, infected children. Not Lorney and Hattie. They embraced Robb with love, and after several years, when the HIV turned into full-blown AIDS, he was able to move back to the Quad Cities to be near his family. Not all people with AIDS are so lucky.
I am proud to know them and to have been part of his final year. I am also very happy to continue his legacy and to attempt to raise funds for the DeLaCerda House by bringing his series back 20 years later.
Emily did an outstanding interview — more in-depth than any interview I ever did with Lorney and Hattie. I am looking forward to the series. Stay tuned to this blog for more details, and to the Robb’s Life Facebook page.