At the age of three, Eileen Cronin first realized that only she did not have legs. Her boisterous Catholic family accepted her situation as “God’s will,” treating her no differently than her ten siblings, as she “squiddled” through their 1960s Cincinnati home. But starting school, even wearing prosthetics, Cronin had to brave bullying and embarrassing questions. Thanks to her older brother’s coaching, she handled a classmate’s playground taunts with a smack from her lunchbox. As a teen, thrilled when boys asked her out, she was confused about what sexuality meant for her. She felt most comfortable and happiest relaxing and skinny dipping with her girlfriends, imagining herself “an elusive mermaid.” The cause of her disability remained taboo, however, even as she looked toward the future and the possibility of her own family.
In later years, as her mother battled mental illness and denied having taken the drug thalidomide—known to cause birth defects—Cronin felt apart from her family. After the death of a close brother, she turned to alcohol. Eventually, however, she found the strength to set out on her own, volunteering at hospitals and earning a PhD in clinical psychology.
Reflecting with humor and grace on her youth, search for love, and quest for answers, Cronin spins a shimmering story of self-discovery and transformation.
Watch the Mermaid book trailer of Eileen Cronin reading an excerpt at Vroman’s in Pasadena, California.
14 thoughts on “About Mermaid – A Memoir of Resilience”
This is so exciting for you Eileen!! I am excited to read the book and will be at your signing in March. Hope you are doing great and life is good….you deserve the best!!
Can’t wait to see you! Bring those darling daughters.
Hey Eileen! Hope there’s some good Sig Ep stuff in there!
I read and loved your newspaper article way back in 1985 or whatever. Tried to track you down but before the internet that was hard…
I look forward to reading Mermaid.
Come to the reading on March 11 at Joseph-Beth. I will be reading a college story.
Hey Eileen it is so good to reconnect and to see you are doing so well. The wonders of Facebook. Can’t wait to read the story but I am sure it will only reinforce what I remember and know of you – your strength, brilliance. compassion and crazy sense of humor. IF you get to Chicago or I to CA – lets try to get together!
Best of luck!
Big news to learn about your book!!! We already ordered it and looking forward to read it.
We lost track of you but hopefully we can reconnect. We are doing fine in Mexico City.
I have thought of you often over the years as one of the most amazing and inspirational people that I have known. I have shared your story of strength, joyfulness, and adventure with my two daughters both who have had to face adversity. You unwillingness to see the world as a place that would hold you back, but to see it as place where you could help others, is gift that we all have benefited from.
I was lucky to have met you in college during our sorority days but even more fortunate to have you as an exceptional example for my daughters. If you get to Washington, DC please let me know so we can find sometime to catch-up.
A must read for any female growing up in a large traditional Catholic family during the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s. Words can not describe Eileen’s strength and the emotional connection she makes with her reader. One can feel the unsettled relationship with her mother. And, the lifelong unanswered question of why?
Congratulations on the book! It was fascinating to see our years at St. Vivian from your perspective.
I wish you a long and happy life, on your own terms.
Thanks, Greg! I’m so glad you read the book.
I am a undocumented thalidomide baby born 1965, 3 years after it was pulled of market. My name is Darrell ray born 11/27/1965 at centreville hospital in centreville il, I was born with short left arm,no left thumb no joint in elbow,large neck,fused bones in neck,and lower lumbar issues.I had to go on disability 5 years ago for chronic neck pain and left arm and leg pain,due to arthritis. I am glad to know someone brought this subject up in america. I also suffered from alcoholism for years for emotional and physical pain.do you know if america ever set up a foundation for thalidomide babies?
Hello Darrell Ray,
Please contact Eileen directly on Facebook. She will put you in contact with other folks who have asked the same question.
Just saw a video on this. Still processing it.
I do have a question
Is there any chance that Connie Cronin is a sibling?
I had her for 3rd grade at Guardian Angels
Hi Michele – Yes, Connie is Eileen’s sister-in-law. Kind regards, Andrew Lakritz