It’s a story that seems more like great fiction than real life. It’s the story of Clauddine (“Dee Dee”) Blanchard and her daughter Gypsy Rose, now 25, that came to light through a BuzzFeed investigation. It’s one of those stories that you can’t stop reading. Even though you really, really want to.
By all accounts, Gypsy was a sickly teenager. She’d been in and out of neonatal intensive care as a baby and had “developmental problems” that left her with the mind of a seven-year-old. She lived with her mother, a devoted, caring, “sweet” person doing her best to look after a teenage daughter with special needs.
Her father was dangerous, abusive. They were on the run.
Gypsy’s medical conditions were exhausting. Chromosomal defects, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, asthma, sleep apnea, eye problems, cancer as a child, cancer as a teenager. She was restricted to a wheelchair and would often be seen with a nasal cannula suspended across her cheeks and an oxygen tank trailing along behind her.
The pair were given a house built by Habit for Humanity in Springfield in 2008. The house was fitted with a wheelchair ramp and a bathtub for Gypsy’s muscles. In a television interview with KYTV after being given the house, a small perennially childlike Gypsy told the camera: “I remember my mum had gave me this little glass house and she said ‘one day this will be real’. And now it finally is.”
Her voice is like a child’s, despite the fact she is 16 at the time of the interview. Her teeth are small and falling inwards. She is wearing owl-like glasses and you can barely see her shaved head beneath the baseball cap she is wearing. She is clutching her mum’s hand throughout the interview.