Our Special Person & Vocation to love (Mildred's Son & Timothy's Brother)
We have been given a very special person to love. And we believe that Scott has been called by God to share in the unique vocation of emotional and mental suffering.
God has allowed him to be afflicted with Schizophrenia. He took ill at seventeen years of age and has been hospitalized for over forty years. The only medication that helped Scott has to be discontinued due to life threatening side-effects. Today, he is still a very sick person.
Growing up, Scott was gentle, sensitive, courteous and a loving person. As he grew older, he became an altar boy, and a honor roll student. It was his gentle courtesy and innocence that made him so loved by others.
At sixteen, he became sad, shy, and fearful. One day, he came to me and said, "Mom, I want to talk with you, I think I am going crazy, everyone downtown is talking about me." That was the beginning of hearing voices.
Scott's illness progressed to the point where he could no longer communicate. We knew then, that he could no longer stay home; we had to take him to the hospital which was the state psychiatric institution.
We transferred him by ambulance to the psychiatric ward which was a short term facility for three months at St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Brighton, Massachusetts.
From there, we took him to another private psychiatric hospital named McLean Hosital in Belmont, Massachusetts. Then, six months later to yet, another named New York Hospital in White Plains.
Scott was treated with dignity and respect as they tried to help him with different types of medicatrion and schock treatments.
Back then, I was ignorant about mental illness. I thought that if I advocated for him to have the right doctor and the right hospital; and that if we gave him right medication and treatment, he would be okay. Sadly to say, that was not true.
Scott's illness had progressed and he had to return to the same state hospital which was primarily custodial care.
Three weeks later, suffering from distorted thinking, Scott was seriously injured in a scuffle over taking medication. He was transferred to Bridgewater State Hospital, a hospital for the criminally insane.
Then our 13 year nightmare began.
Tim & Scott at Bridgewater State Hospital
Scott at Bridgewater State Hospital
For Scott, he lived with his own terror within and lived terrified by his environment. There was no segregation. It was over crowded and critically staffed. Also, the correctional officers had little if any training in mental illness.
Since the early 1900's the state department of Mental Health in Massachusetts sent their very sick patients with mental illness to Bridgewater, a correctional facility.
They were treated as criminals even though they had never committed any crime. They were persons with a disease of mental illness and were being held hostage by a prison system.
It was a system that I was up against. Our family was deprived of showing our love to Scott becuase we could only bring him something twice a year which was on his birthday and at Christmas time; not even a lifesaver could be given on visting day.
And it was humiliating for us when we had to pass through the metal dectectors and to watch the officers search Scott.
We also knew of correctional officers who taunted, teased and assaulted patients; we also knew about patient to patient assault.
As in every system, there were good officers.
My Suffering Son
I saw the suffering Christ today, as plain as he could be.
I saw the suffering Christ today, he was staring back at me.
I saw the suffering Christ today, I saw my suffering son.
I saw the suffering Christ today, for he lives in everyone.
He spoke no words, not even tears But I heard his anguished sigh.
I saw the suffering Christ today And I could not help but cry.
Mrs. Mildred Duff
Marked for Euthanasia
We were involved in a class action suit with three other families against the state. And then, tragedy struck! Five patients died in his unit under unusual circumstances. One was due to a toxic level of Tylenol. Negligence played a part in the other deaths. The sons of the other families involved were transferred out of Bridgewater. Scott remained because he was too ill.
So, the suit became Scott Duff et al.
The most terrifying and most painful heartachewas when our lawyer told us that: "it was written on the 'Hard Copy' of a record by a correctional officer in the unit where Scott was kept in seclusion for many years "Good candidate for Euthanasia" This to us was the Ultimate Rejection.
We sacrificed our privacy and anonymity to fightthis injustice and Mildred appeared on Nightline with Ted Koppel.
Saved by the Love of Our Lady
I received Our Lady of Fatima’s newsletter from the Archdiocese of Boston that stated: the International Pilgrim Virgin Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, the miraculous image was coming to their Archdiocese accompanied by Her escort, Louis Kiszmarick.
It listed the towns where she was going. As I saw the name Bridgewater, goose bumps went all through me. Why?
I knew she was coming for Scott.
The Pilgrim Virgin's Statue at Bridgewater State Hospital
In the parking lot we met Louis; Timothy approached him as he was getting out of his car. He placed the statue of the Blessed Virgin in Timothy's arms and said: "You carry her in Tim". He then turned to Mildred and said: "You carry her crown Mrs. Duff." We thought our hearts would burst with joy as we carried her in.
At that time, my mother was holding a camera. I told her, "You will never get that camera in the hospital." She said to me, "Tim, they will never see it. Blessed Mother will blind there eyes."
We both chuckled as we went through the extra sensitive dectectors, we placed the camera, our car keys and the metal we had in our possession in front of the officers. They never saw the camera which was right in front of their eyes.
A sign from Our Lady of Fatima
When we processed into Scott's room, he was unable to communicate and could not tolerate touch. He had been solitarily confined for many years. Louis explained who she was and we began to pray the rosary for him.
Scott never took his eyes off her. He blessed himself and prayed out loud a decade of the rosary with us. He held Timothy's hand for the first time in many years and quietly said, "I Love You!"
The captain of the guards who took the pictures for us asked if he could have a copy saying,
"I have just seen a miracle.
I have been with Scott everyday for the past thirteen years.
And he was perfectly well all of the time the Pilgrim Virgin was with him in his room."
After Blessed Mother's Image left, Scott returned to his previous condition.
His class action suit was won and Bills were passed by the Massachusetts Legislature that would no longer permit non-criminal mental patients to be sent to Bridgewater State Hospital.
Conditions were improved at Bridgewater. And monies were appropriated to construct a new Department of Mental Health Facility for the seriously ill mental patients like Scott.
Our Lady Intervenes...
We received the telephone call that said, "Scott would be transferred on the 13th of the month after thirteen years."
Back in 1917 Our Lady appeared to three children in the town of Fatima, Portugal on every thirteenth of the month from the months of May until October. And now we know she had plans to help us, too!
Scott and Theresa (Timothy's late spouse 1963-2021) outside on the grounds of Taunton State Hospital.
A Blessing in Disguise...
I met Tim in 2009 and knew very quickly that "he was the one for me!". Soon after we began dating, he told me about his family, and, in particular, his brother Scott. I knew it would be important to meet him, and so we scheduled a visit. I had never in my life visited a facility for persons with mental illness, and, quite honestly, had never known anyone like this. When we arrived at the hospital and parked the car, I became very nervous. We were given our visitor badges, and walked a long hallway, climbed a set of stairs and went up in the elevator to Scott's unit, escorted by one of the mental health workers. How sterile it is here, I thought. An institution with very little "life" and a lot of sickness. Tim and I waited in the visitor's room, a small kitchenette. Scott walked in and I was struck by his gentleness and smile. He walked over to me and all of my nervousness was gone, I was "in love" if you will; this was a special person for sure! Tim had not told Scott about me, and he wasn't expecting our visit, but, he walked right over to me and said: "Are you going to be my new sister?" Tim and I looked at each other and were pretty surprised! Tim responded, "I think so" ! We still laugh about this even today. I love Scott more than I can say, and I am convinced he has brought me to understand his sufferings and, ways we can help him, though he can't tell us in words. We visit often, bring milkshakes, soda, and candy, hold hands, and always pray a Hail Mary with Scott. On a good visit, he will pray out loud with us. Are we the support he needs? How can we support him more? I am amazed at the number of people who have no one to visit them....how can the Guild support those who are alone?