Lucas Reilly (Ohio University)
Award of Excellence
Domestic Picture Story
“I stopped selling meth when I heard about her,” said Earl Anderson, of Newark, Ohio. He had been dealing methamphetamine, crack cocaine and marijuana while also struggling with addiction himself. After a month of abusing drugs with the intention of ending his life, he received a phone call from his ex-girlfriend, Amy, of Chillicothe, Ohio. She was pregnant with his baby.
On April 18, 2014, then 20-year-old Amy gave birth to Liliana, or “Lily” for short. Earl and Amy married two months later and now live in a single-bedroom apartment at Carriage Hill Apartments in Athens, Ohio. Amy studies Mechanical Engineering at Ohio University and took classes right up until delivery. Earl has devoted himself to caring for Lily while Amy is at class and when she is studying.
Earl is 20 years old yet never completed high school nor pursued a GED diploma. At age 2, his mother left and his father kicked him out when he was 13. After having a difficult childhood, he is determined to give Lily the best life he and Amy can eke out for her. He considers her his reason to live.
The young couple is mainly supported by Amy’s parents with a budget of $300 every month for food and living expenses. Earl and Amy are quite contrasting individuals, aside from their personal histories. She is a vegetarian and he is not, which effects their shopping needs. He has attention deficit disorder and says she may suffer mild depression. Against adversity, the Andersons rally over 9-month-old Lily and their love for each other.
“We’ve got to be a team,” Amy said.
Earl and Amy Anderson watch as their daughter Liliana plays and works on learning to crawl in their small apartment in Athens, Ohio. Earl has set up a Christmas tree, decorated with help from Lily, for their first Christmas as a family.
Earl puts pants on Lily to keep her warm. As a stay-at-home dad, he is responsible for Lily's needs most of the time while Amy is busy with class or studying.
The Andersons take a pass through the baby aisle at Kroger to find a cheap toy for Lily in celebration of her turning 7 months old.
Earl smokes a cigarette while driving Amy to class at Ohio University as she finishes some last-minute homework in the backseat with Lily.
Earl transfers laundry from washer to dryer while Lily sits on the folding table, pacified with a bottle at one of Ohio University's laundry facilities located in Gamertsfelder Hall. When Amy is busy it can be difficult for Earl to do chores while also keeping watch over Lily.
"I started smoking cigarettes when I was 8," Earl says. "I had some bad influences." Amy's parents give the couple $300 a month for food and "living expenses" which include cigarettes.
Earl talks on the phone with his friend Justin. The couple shares a single cell phone, which becomes problematic at times.
Earl lifts Lily up in the air. He hopes to give her the best life he and Amy can. Before she was born, he spent a month smoking methamphetamine in an attempt to kill himself. "She's my reason for living," he said.