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Deborah Owens, formerly Deborah Fontanel, is Lily's mother. She grew up in Richmond, Virginia, where August Boatwright worked as her housekeeper. As an adult, Deborah moved to Sylvan, following a friend from high school. She dated T. Ray and only agreed to marry him after she discovered she was pregnant with Lily. After a brief term of happiness following Lily's birth, Deborah's life turned dark. She left T. Ray and Lily to live with the Boatwrights. After shaking her depression, Deborah went back to Sylvan to take Lily. During this foray, she and T. Ray got into a fight, which resulted in four-year-old Lily picking up a gun and accidentally shooting Deborah, killing her. I think all the women have a past that estrange them from men in some way. They don't seem to have children involved like Deborah. The other women are also black but I think it is the connection between all women that sets the Boatwright farm apart from traditional social structures.