Sunday 26 May 2019

My boy and I'll meet in heaven, says Philomena Lee

Philomena Lee is portrayed by Dame Judi Dench in the film Philomena
Philomena Lee is portrayed by Dame Judi Dench in the film Philomena


PHILOMENA Lee, the Irish woman whose tragic tale inspired the Oscar-nominated movie Philomena, has told of her certainty that her quest to find her lost son will end in happiness – when the pair are reunited in heaven.

The 80-year-old, from Newcastle West, Co Limerick, never got to see her late son, Anthony, after he was sold by nuns in 1955 to an American family when he was just three.

But devout Catholic Philomena said she believes her story will have a joyful conclusion when the pair meet again in the afterlife.

She said: "I most certainly do think I'll be reunited with Anthony. I believe he was a wonderful character and I believe he's organising [the reunion] with that one brother I had. I think they're up in heaven organising this."

As depicted in the treble-IFTA and BAFTA-winning movie, Philomena's son was re-named Michael Hess after being taken to his new life in the US, where he later enjoyed huge success as chief legal counsel for former US president George Bush Snr.

Tragically, Philomena's son, who was HIV positive in later life, never fulfilled his lifetime wish to meet his birth mother before his death in 1995.

Although Philomena and Anthony had spent decades searching for each other, the nuns at Sean Ross Abbey, the convent where Philomena was sent as an unmarried mother, failed to pass on the messages each had left.

However, Philomena has told how she believes the spirit of her late son has remained a guiding force in her life and even helped inspire the success of the movie.

In an interview, she and her daughter Jane Libberton gave to US movie site Reel Life With Jane, Philomena said: "I firmly believe he's [Anthony] up there watching over us and has made all this happen."

And her daughter Jane told of her hopes of the recently founded Philomena Project which aims to help birth parents and their children find each other.

She added: "The ultimate aim of the Philomena Project is to get the legislation changed so that people, once they reach 18, like here in Britain, can seek their birth parents, or parents can find their children if they wish to.

"I think the European code of human rights says that everybody has a basic right to their identity, and that's something you don't currently have with the laws in Ireland."

Sunday Independent

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