I’m Not Lonely Anymore
by Penny Ann Rice
Undated, originally published in the New Life Zoa Free Paper
I became fatherless at the age of three. My father left my mother and I and we never heard from him again at all. Since I was very close to my mother, it seemed that my world was still rosy even without my daddy.
I was the apple of my mother’s eye, the “penny in her pocket.” We did everything together and the warmth and security of her love seemed all that I needed. When she was at work, Grandma and Grandpa were right next door watching over me.
When it was time for me to go to school, Grandpa was there to pick me up and take me home. He showed me how to walk back and forth from school as I grew older. He was a kind old gentleman with a twinkle in his eye. I could sit for hours listening to him tell me stories about his life. Until I was about ten years old, I had weak ankles and was constantly twisting them out of place. Several times my grandfather would walk to my friend’ houses to pick me up and carry me home until my ankles snapped back. But in spite of all the love he showed me, Grandpa was not my daddy. He couldn’t pick me up and swing me around or hold me close and call me “his girl.”
My mother seemed to sense that I needed a younger man to look up to, so she dated several men, often taking me along to see how I like them. But the “right” person didn’t appear and Mother became immersed in the vicious cycle of working, coming home to see me, cleaning, paying bills, etc. She was too busy to go to church, although she sent me to Sunday School. And as I passed my seventh birthday, there was a change in our relationship.
Mother was tired when she came home and left me to find my own amusement. She would lay on the couch, smoking cigarette after cigarette. I knew she still loved me, but something was sapping her strength. She began vomiting regularly, so much that I took on the job of fetching the pail for her. She kept working and denied that anything was wrong. But one day as she was bathing, she screamed in pain. I ran to get Grandpa and Grandma. . . before I knew what was happening, my mother was whisked away in an ambulance. Finally we found out what had been making her sick: cancer. For months we prayed and waited, but the cancer had already destroyed most of her internal organs. She died shortly after my eighth birthday.
It took me a while to realize what had happened. I was used to staying with Grandpa and Grandma anyway so when I was put in their custody, the change was barely noticeable. But as I got older and saw my friends’ parents active in school activities and saw the young fatehers and mothers doing things with their children, I became envious. Not having brothers and sisters made me feel even more lonely. As I grew up living with aunts and uncles, I knew they were trying to fill that void but the loneliness was still there. Finally in college I read the following passages in the Bible which really comforted me:
“Thou art the helper of the fatherless” (Psalm 10:14) and “When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” (Psalm 27:10) and “The Lord preserveth the strangers; He relieveth the fatherless and widow.” (Psalm 146:9)
I wondered how these promises would be fulfilled in my life, but I clung to them whenever the loneliness welled up inside me. And then. . . after 18 years of being without a daddy, the Lord gave me a daddy—and a mommy again—when I got married. As soon as I was blessed with a husband in the marriage ceremony, the realization hit me as we walked out the church door. I turned to my new father-in-law and said, “Now I have a Daddy again!” What an emotional release it was for me to know that I was someone’s daughter again. . . “somebody’s girl.” And even though my husband’s parents live hundreds of miles away, my heart is at peace because I am still “their girl.”