Her 19-year-old son Parys was found dead in a suspected case of overdose. She revealed that he was bullied in school about her disability.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on September 10, 2021. It has since been updated.
As a child, artist Alison Lapper did not know much of kindness. She was taken away from her mother for being born with no arms or legs and with a red mark on her face. Doctors expected her to die early or be a cabbage for the rest of her life. Diagnosed with phocomelia, when she was seven weeks old, she was sent to a children's home and her mother was told that it was better if the state took care of her.
The staff there called the children "strange little creatures." She was born with a birth defect in which the hands and feet are attached to abbreviated arms and legs. Despite the trauma that her disability caused her, she grew up to become an artist. As an adult, she always wanted to be a mother and after many attempts and multiple miscarriages, her wish came true. She gave birth to a boy who meant the world to her.
However, this brave mother lost her son too soon, when he was only a teenager in July 2019. The grieving mother told the Sunday Times (via the Independent) that her son suffered through cruel comments from bullies at his school.
The artist Alison Lapper, who posed naked and pregnant for a Trafalgar Square statue, speaks about the sudden loss of her son, Parys https://t.co/jILdfxm2Cl— The Sunday Times (@thesundaytimes) September 1, 2019
The 19-year-old Parys Lapper was found dead in a hotel in July, where he may have died of an overdose, according to reports. The mother and son became famous in the UK when she posed naked while eight months pregnant for a Marc Quinn statue, which stood in Trafalgar Square for two years, according to the Independent.
Alison never thought she would be able to have a child of her own, but that changed in 1999. "I had been pregnant in my 20s, had miscarried four times and had always assumed that becoming a mother was not a possibility for me. But when I became pregnant again in April 1999 I knew I wasn't going to miscarry. I was very fit and healthy and everything in my body and brain felt right," she told the Guardian.
Her partner and father of the child did not take the news well and she ended being a single mom. She wondered how she would be able to manage but when her boy was born, she was "euphoric". "He was healthy, he was cute, he was a blessed miracle," she said.
"My disability hasn't ever created a barrier between us, but if the children at school tease him or make negative comments about his mother he may find it hard to deal with," she had said when Parys was five-years-old. Never did she know that she would have to lay him to rest 14 years later.
Daily Mail reported her fiance Si Clift describing the boy as "a mischievous, generous, kind, loving, frustrating, cheeky, forgiving, beautiful boy." He added, "He was his own man. He was a good son."
Even though Alison worked hard to achieve a first-class honors degree in fine arts, became a professional artist, and was awarded an MBE for services to art in 2003, she believed that her son was her "greatest piece of artwork and creation."
Nothing made her happier than when she first held him. "When I saw him, I just cried and cried," she said, as reported by DailyMail. "The emotions I felt were indescribable. I had never imagined I was going to be a mother, never thought it could be possible. But when they placed him on my shoulder and I gave him a little kiss on his head and said 'hello', I was overwhelmed."
When Parys was five, Alison Lapper said about her relationship with her son, "...we've been through a lot together. I am the only person who has been constantly in his life since he was born. My disability hasn't ever created a barrier between us..." The Guardian reports.
And now there is a barrier between them that will forever keep them apart. The barrier of life and death.
The considerate mother wanted her son to have a farewell that would have touched his heart. Si requested the local motorcyclists to join the procession for the boy, who loved motorbikes. "Ali has expressed a dear wish that she would absolutely love to see as many noisy motorbikes as possible to escort Parys on his final journey from her home to celebrate his life," he told Daily Mail.