Poor Patty Watts. She did everything she could for her daughter Rose Gold who was confined to a wheelchair, allergic to everything and struggled with an unbelievable number of health issues beginning at birth. Patty couldn’t work because she devoted herself to her daughter’s care. Luckily neighbors were kind, holding fundraisers and helping Patty anyway they could. She was described as a supermom.
Only she wasn’t. Instead, she was constantly feeding Rose Gold ipecac, making her vomit and manipulating doctors like getting one to put the two-year-old girl on a feeding tube and then not giving her the amount of food she needed. All this was to ensure that Rose Gold would remain gravely ill. When she was discovered, Patty went from a hero to prison, where she spent five years for aggravated child abuse. Rose Gold, in the meantime, had a child and learned to live on her own. Then Patty was released from prison and needed a place to live. Would Rose take her in? And what would happen when she did?
That’s the question Chicago native Stephanie Wrobel asks in her recently released book, “Darling Rose Gold,” a tense thriller that opens with Rose Gold picking her mother up from prison.
Wrobel was intrigued by stories told by her best friend, a school psychologist, about Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP).
“The mother-daughter bond is supposed to be sacred,” says Wrobel, in a phone call from England where she has lived for the last few years. “But that’s not the case in MSBP, a mental health disorder where a caregiver fakes or induces illness in the person they’re taking care of. The more research I did on the subject, the more fascinated and appalled I became. In most cases, the perpetrators are mothers acting out of a need for attention or love from authority figures within the medical community.”
Wanting to get into the head of both the victim and the perpetrator, Wrobel tells the story of mother and daughter from both points of view. Patty, it seems, has developed such an impenetrable armor, she’s unable to see the evil she’s done. Rose Gold, tougher now, wants to pay back those who have done her harm. But, as they say, it’s complicated.