I have never told anyone this before but I got pregnant at 17.
It was 1942 and I was crazy about Pvt. Roy Holmes at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Every night for two weeks I snuck out to be with him. Then he stopped coming and I heard he’d been deployed. I was heartbroken. One month later I learned he was killed. Another month later I realized I was pregnant.
Mama and daddy would never forgive me. I packed some clothes and snuck out one last time. I caught a north-bound bus, getting off at the aptly named city of Hope, Ohio. Eyeing a pretty white church, I headed straight for it and rang the bell. I was surprised when a boyish pastor answered; he was even more surprised when I fainted in the doorway. When I came to I was on a sofa, the pastor and two woman standing over me.
“Better now?” asked the pastor and I shook my head. “Tell us what’s wrong” he suggested. “Maybe we can help.”
Speaking softly, I made up my story as I went along: “My name is Grace Holmes. My husband of five months was killed in the war. I have no family, no money and I’m pregnant.” I started to cry again – real tears of sorrow and shame. Handing me a tissue the pastor quietly said “Stay the night here in the parish house and in the morning we’ll sort it all out.”
The next morning I found everyone in the kitchen preparing breakfast. “Good morning, Grace! Join us! This is our cook Anna and Peggy, our housekeeper, and I’m Richard Clark, the pastor.” Everyone was so welcoming!
After breakfast Richard asked me into his office. “Grace, I believe things happen for a reason. We can help each other. You see, my secretary recently retired and I’d like to offer you the job. It’s not very demanding, the salary is decent and room and board are included. Won’t you stay here with me … um, I mean with us?”
We both blushed. “But what about my condition? Won’t people talk?”
“Have faith, Grace. You’ll find the people here very understanding.”
“Then yes, I accept!” I replied happily. “I won’t let you down.”
Parish life was wonderful! Richard and I grew close, fell in love and he asked me to marry him. I was thrilled but haunted by my lies. “Richard, I love you but I have a confession. I was never married and I left home because of the pregnancy.”
“I was hoping you’d tell me, Grace. I’ve always known.”
I was stunned. “But how?”
“No wedding ring, no pictures of your ‘husband’, no mention of your family. I figured it out and it doesn’t matter. I love you and I want us to be a family.”
Richard and I got married that weekend and a few days later our baby girl was born.
“She’s beautiful, just like you, Grace. What shall we name her?”
“That’s easy, darling. Her name is Faith.”
NAR © 2019