NPR StoryCorps

This story is part of StoryCorps' Road to Resilience project, which leverages the power of storytelling to help children cope with the death of a parent, sibling or loved one.

Sylvia Grosvold was 5 years old when her mother died by suicide.

Now 16, Sylvia recently sat down with her father, Josh Weiner, 52, at StoryCorps. They talked about the day Sylvia's mother, Kari Grosvold, died and the years that followed.

The day before Ashley Baker turned 16 years old, she moved into a Dallas motel with her mom. They were newly homeless.

Sandy, Ashley's mother, then 44, had just left a troubled marriage, scraped together what money she could and left home with Ashley.

For the next two and a half years, they were homeless. They recounted the challenges they faced during a recent StoryCorps interview in Dallas.

"One of the first places that we lived was [an] InTown Suites Hotel," said Sandy, now 54. "And there was nothing sweet about it. It was crazy bad."

Ever since they were kids growing up on Staten Island, N.Y., David Carles and his younger brother Mark Carles have been inseparable.

But in October last year, they were dealt a huge blow: Mark, now 25, was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer called fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma.

The brothers, just a year apart in age, still don't know how much time they'll have together; they only know that they want to spend as much of it as they can side by side.

It was 1965 when Winfred Rembert, then 19, says he was almost killed by a group of white men.

"I'm 71. But I still wake up screaming and reliving things that happened to me," Winfred, now 73, said.

During a 2017 StoryCorps interview, Winfred told his wife, Patsy Rembert, 67, about the traumatic incident he's still grappling with today.

Ever since he was a child, Michael Menta looked up to his uncle Sal Leone for becoming a Marine. Menta would eventually follow in Leone's footsteps to serve his country, enlisting in the Navy during his senior year of high school.

Their shared veteranship brought them closer.

"We spoke the same language," Menta said, when he and Leone visited StoryCorps last month.

In 1967, when Janie Bush was 19 and discovered that she was pregnant, she decided to place her baby for adoption.

But when Janie's daughter — whom she named Tracey Jane — was born with spina bifida, a potentially fatal birth defect, the planned adoptive family backed out.

Janie couldn't afford the expensive specialized care that Tracey's condition required. A social worker told Janie that her daughter might die if the child didn't receive appropriate medical care and that a state residence might be her best option.

Growing up, Arguster and Lebronze Davis and their 14 siblings worked alongside their parents on the family's 40-acre farm in Wetumpka, Ala.

The brothers remember lessons that their father, Ben Davis, passed down to them.

Now 70, Lebronze recalls how at one point, nine kids lived at home, with all eight of the brothers packed into two beds in one room.

"Two slept at the head, two slept at the feet," he says during his recent StoryCorps interview. "And there was one thing about them feet, you washed them feet before you went to bed."

Eli Brown and Natalie Guice Adams first met as third-grade classmates, when their school in Winnsboro, La., integrated in fall of 1970. Although they would share a similar academic trajectory, Brown and Adams lived very separate experiences.

"I feel like we missed knowing each other," Brown, a 56-year-old African American man, told Adams, a 57-year-old white woman, during a StoryCorps conversation recorded earlier this month.

Guy Bryant never intended to be a father figure. But over the past 12 years, he's housed more than 50 foster kids in his Brooklyn apartment.

For decades, Bryant, 61, worked with teens aging out of New York's child welfare system. His job was to find services that would make the transition to living on their own easier. But he felt that what he could accomplish at the New York City Administration for Children's Services office wasn't enough. So in 2007, he decided to become a foster parent.

This week, Jewish people observed Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement.

Growing up in the 1960s, siblings Michael and Vickie Feldstein marked a different way to repent for their transgressions: Amnesty Day, which their dad, Bernie, had created.

At StoryCorps in 2011, Bernie tells them about that tradition he started in their Brooklyn household around forgiveness. A few times a year, the Feldstein children could say anything on Amnesty Day, without retribution, condemnation or discussion.

Willie Ito, 85, wanted to be an animator from the moment he first saw Snow White in theaters as a young boy.

"I remember the seven little men walking across the screen, singing, 'Heigh-ho, heigh-ho!' and I thought to myself, 'Wow, that's what I want to be.' Not one of the seven dwarves, but an animated cartoonist," Willie told his son, Vince Ito, 60, at StoryCorps last month.

StoryCorps / YouTube

In 1950s Arkansas, Olly Neal didn't care much for school. Then one day, he cut class, wandered into the library and stumbled onto a book by author Frank Yerby.

Inspired by her father's passion for military service, Denise Baken joined the Army in 1975 at age 24, looking to follow in his footsteps.

But the retired colonel didn't realize how closely her father's experience in the military mirrored her own until she faced challenges — both as a woman and an African American — over her 28 years of service.

This story is part of StoryCorps Legacy, which provides people of all ages with serious illness and their families the opportunity to record, preserve and share their stories.

Julia Medina was a single mom who raised 10 children while working a variety of jobs, including as a cleaning woman in Fresno, Calif.

"She was strong," said Maria Rivas, Julia's daughter, at StoryCorps in 2014.

Connie Mehmel and Ian Bennett have a mother-son bond forged by fire.

Connie, 68, retired from the Forest Service last week, marking the end of her 42-year career. Ian, 42, is a lieutenant with the Seattle Fire Department.

Connie became a firefighter when she was a young mother in the 1970s. At the time, the Forest Service was working to recruit more women to join its ranks.

Tom Gasko loves vacuum cleaners. He not only repairs them, he has a collection of hundreds of vintage and modern models, which are on display in a museum and repair shop in Rolla, Mo.

His fascination with vacuum cleaners began early. It started when he was a toddler, with his mother's Rainbow cleaner. At 6, he began repairing his neighbors' broken vacuums.

For nurses Kristin Sollars and Marci Ebberts, work is more than just a job.

"Don't you feel like you're a nurse everywhere you go?" Sollars, 41, asked Ebberts, 46, on a visit to StoryCorps in May.

"I mean, let's be honest, every time we get on a plane you're like, E6 didn't look good to me. Keep an eye out there."

Sollars and Ebberts have grown so close while working together that they've come to call themselves "work wives." They first met in 2007, working side by side in the intensive care unit at Saint Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Mo.

Pedro Lopez was in seventh grade when a rumor began to spread through his school in 2008: Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were raiding Agriprocessors, the meatpacking plant where his parents worked, in his small hometown of Postville, Iowa.

Editor's note: This story contains language that some listeners may find offensive.

To siblings Flip and Christine Cuddy, Susan Ahn Cuddy was "Mom."

But she was also a Korean American lieutenant in the U.S. Navy who trained pilots to shoot down enemies during World War II.

It wasn't until historian John Cha's biography of Susan was published in 2002 that her children learned about many of their mother's accomplishments.

When Elizabeth Coffey-Williams first came out to her family as transgender in the late 1960s, the language of gender identity wasn't what it is today.

"A lot of the words that they have today, like transgender and non-binary, they didn't have them," Elizabeth, who was in her early 20s at the time, told her niece Jennifer Coffey in a recent StoryCorps interview.

Five years ago, Ferguson, Mo., erupted.

A Ferguson police officer killed Michael Brown, an unarmed African American man, in what the U.S. Department of Justice would later rule as self-defense.

After Brown was killed on Aug. 9, 2014, protesters took to Ferguson's streets, chanting, "Hands up, don't shoot!"

In the days of protests that followed, strangers Jamell Spann and Elizabeth Vega marched to the Ferguson Police Department to demand justice.

Amanda Farrell struggled with mental illness for much of her life.

When she was 18, she jumped in a lake because a voice in her head told her to. EMTs pulled her out and treated her for hypothermia. She was later placed in a psychiatric ward and committed by the state.

"Living in a cemented room with nothing but a pad on the floor, there was absolutely no hope," she said. "I was told that I was a lifer."

StoryCorps' Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military and their families.

Walter Dixon had been married for just five days when he shipped off to Korea for his second war deployment.

About a year later, at age 22, he was declared dead. When his obituary was published in the local paper, his wife back home in Waynesville, Mo., had no way of knowing that the news was premature.

In reality, Dixon was alive behind enemy lines.

The 1940s were significant for a number of reasons.

America went off to fight in the second World War. Orson Welles released his masterpiece Citizen Kane. A rocket-powered plane flew faster than the speed of sound.

And a great love story was being written.

Joel and Julia Helfman grew up in the West Bronx in New York during the '40s. Joel was 13 when a 12-year-old girl moved in across the street. After an errant ball during a stickball game landed near Julia as she read a book, she retrieved it for Joel.

This story is part of the StoryCorps series of conversations.

A half-century ago, America's dreams were realized in space. The power of U.S. innovation and spirit took the Apollo 11 crew to the moon and back.

That mission was possible because of a diverse team of engineers, astronauts and mathematicians. It was also possible thanks to the help of one 10-year-old boy who was in the right place at the right time.

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