After more than 20 years, two lost baby books have been returned to a family member.

There is no going back, says Rita Woods, though sometimes the way things turn out, we wish we could. Rita is James Liggett’s aunt. Her older sister, Carol, was James’ mother.

Friday’s column concerned the mystery of two baby books that Marcy Phillips found in an attic more than 20 years ago. One of the books belonged to James. The other book is for his half-brother, Michael Gene Walker.

Marcy and her cousin, Sharon Kording, had tried to find the two boys whose early memories they kept. But Jamie (as he was known) was killed in 1987, and Michael has moved out of Springfield and cannot be found. Rita has tried.

Friday afternoon, however, Rita took possession of her nephew Jamie’s baby book, along with the baby book of Michael Walker. And she met Marcy and Sharon, who had saved the baby books for so many years. Before Rita took them, Marcy had to take one last look at the books she had for two decades.

People in Springfield still remember Jamie Liggett and his family. Many of them called Friday to share their memories of him and to offer help in locating his family.

Classmates of Jamie’s at Springfield High School remembered him as being religious and a musician who played guitar in local bands. Another woman remembered babysitting Jamie and Michael as young boys. Calls came from a cousin, another aunt and friends of the family.

Rita is the closest relative the boys still have left in Springfield.

“I’m excited to have them,” Rita says of the baby books. “It’s fabulous.”

The books represent for her a time before bad things happened in the short lives of James and his mother, Carol. Carol was 39 when she died. Jamie would have been a teenager then. Jamie was 30 when he died.

At his final Christmas with the family, Jamie asked Rita if she would be the emergency contact for him should it ever be needed.

With his mother dead and his

father out of the picture, Rita agreed.

She was the one authorities called to St. John’s Hospital the night Jamie was fatally stabbed.

Yes, she says, her nephew had a hard life. He lost his leg in a mower accident at 3. His mother died young. But there were a lot of good times, too, Rita says, especially in the early years.

That is what she will keep in mind when she pages through his old baby book and goes back again to better times for Jamie and Carol Liggett.

Dave Bakke can be reached at (217) 788-1541 or