Your Missing Daughter
Letters to an Unknown Father

Brenda North

© Copyright 2020 by Brenda North

Photo of a hand writing.

Brenda is the only child of her mother but has never known her father or if she has any half siblings. All of her life, she has wondered about her father and wanted to know him. These letters have been a way for her, after sixty plus years of these feelings, to release the hurt and anger about her situation.

10 Years Old, June 7

Dear Daddy, or Father or Whatever,

I hope this letter finds you well and happy. How are you? I am doing great! I just finished the fifth grade and I made all Eís. That means excellent, in case you didnít know. I am doing great at home too, with my mother, granny, and several aunts and cousins. Sometimes there are ten people in this house altogether. You can imagine it gets crowded sometimes. Although Iím an only child, at least my motherís only child, I donít feel like one. My cousin Rex lives here. Heís an only child too. Hey, what is it with you absent daddys? Did I spell that correctly? Maybe itís daddies. My Grannyís two daughters, my aunts, who live here too and sometimes her other two daughters leave their husbands and come live with us too, with their children. Ugh! I hate when that happens. I know my Grampy is glad heís already up in heaven when all his children are at home. Anyway, back to you and me.

My Mamma says I look like you. That may not be so good. What do you look like? Do you have long legs and big feet? And a big nose? My teeth are good and my eyes, but I wonder what Iíll look like when I get to be 12. If I keep getting tall, Iíll be the tallest person in school. That wonít be good. If my nose and feet get any bigger, that really wonít be good. That will be Bad! My eyes are dark brown but lighter than my Mammaís so I guess your eyes are dark brown too. What about your ears? Are they big or little? You know little ears means that youíre stingy. Iím not stingy so mine must be the right size. What do your hands look like? My two index fingers, you know the ones next to your thumb, are a little curved. That means you could be very smart or crazy. Are you smart or crazy? My best friend says thereís a thin line between smart and crazy. She tells me Iím on that line. What about how you think? Do you like people, dogs, cats, pigs (smile)? I like some people and little dogs or puppies and kittens. I donít like farm animals. I donít like mean people. Some people scare me, like Mrs. Whiz at school. She yells.

Daddy, do you know where Australia is? I hope to go there some day. I want to travel all over the world and see and eat new things. I have only been to Dickson so far. Thatís about an hourís drive from here. I also want to be a model and sing and draw. What do you do? Can you draw? I can draw my own paper dolls because sometimes Mamma canít afford to buy me any. But mine are pretty good.

Father, that feels funny calling you Father. Anyway, do you believe in God? Do you ever talk to God? I think I believe in Him. Iím going to join the church. Thatís what you do when you believe in God. Anyway, thatís what I believe.

Whatever; since I donít know you, I canít really call you my Daddy or my Father. But my Mamma taught me to respect adults, so I wonít call you Whatever. What do you think about me? What do you call me, or do you call me anything? My Mamma wonít talk about you so I canít imagine you so good. I look at myself in the mirror to try to imagine what you look like. I tell myself you are tall and good looking. But what are you on the inside?

I hope this letter finds you well and happy.


Your missing daughter

P.S.  My 11th birthday is coming up so I guess I will write my daddy letter. I plan to send one every year until I hear from you. I hope Iím not 30.

11 years old, June 7

I have grown another inch, all in my legs, or so my Mamma says. I like to run but in spite of my long legs, Iím not very fast. I donít like basketball which everybody thinks I should like and should play. I do like baseball, or softball is what we play. Iím pretty good at that and I climb trees and walk picket fences very well. I love to climb our apple or black walnut tree and sit up high and look at the sky. I also like cloud art. Do you know what that is? Itís looking at the clouds and seeing what things you can see, like dogs and birds or peace signs. I think Iíve seen all those. Anyway so much about me. What are you doing? What is your job? When I have to fill out forms at school in the section where they ask about fathers, I usually say youíre a doctor or lawyer. Since I donít put an address, they canít check to see if Iím telling the truth. They never call my Mamma. They must know I donít really know. But I can imagine all I want.

I imagine that youíre a doctor in New York City working at a large hospital, doing important surgery. I imagine that you save people every day and everybody loves you. When I imagine that youíre a lawyer, I think that you are as good as Lawyer Longfellow. Heís a civil rights lawyer trying to get rights for Black people. Heís the best. My Granny knows him. She has had to get him before. He told Granny sheís a fighter. Granny just says she believes in ďright.Ē Sometimes I imagine that youíre a brick layer like my Grampy was before he died. He was good; good at what he did. Everybody said so. But I donít put that on the form. I want the school to think my daddy is important; although they probably know I donít have one.

Anyway, what are you? What do you do all day? Are you proud of what you do? Is it something good? I hope youíre not a thief, thug, and high jacker as Granny calls some of my auntís boyfriends. She says theyíre just no good and not good enough for her. I guess thatís why they donít last more than a few weeks. After Granny gets through with her ďcome to JesusĒ talk, as she calls them, they soon stop coming by. Is that what happened to you? I know Granny can be hard but sheís really a very lovely person (ha, ha, ha). No really she is. She just has standards, as she says.

Anyway, I would love to know you. I want to see if what Mamma says is true; that I look just like you. Even though Mamma doesnít want to talk about you or tell anything about you, except that I look just like you, I donít think she hates you. Cause if she hated you, she would hate me because I look just like you. And she loves me. She tells me every night before I go to bed that she loves me. I love her too. Really, sheís all I got.

So this letter is from your missing 11-year-old daughter who wants to know you. Who wants you to answer her letters. So, ďman upĒ as my cousin Bobo (thatís his nick name) says. Be a man, whatever that means. Write To Me!!!


Your missing daughter

12 years old, June 7


Well Iím in the seventh grade now. Iím 12, practically grown. Iím still hoping to hear from you some day.

Iíve been writing to you since I was 10. Really, younger than that. I just couldnít spell well enough to put it together. I wrote in my mind. If I donít hear from you this year, Iím going to stop writing. Okay, maybe not.

Iím in the 7th grade and Iím a cheerleader. A cheerleader! I canít scream real loud but I can turn flips really well, so I guess thatís why I made it. Iím also in the dance group at school. We do jazz, tap and social dance. I really like it. My gym teacher is the dance and cheer squad advisor. Sheís very pretty. Almost as pretty as my Mamma. If I could stop growing and my feet stop growing I could be as pretty as my Mamma. People say I look just like my Mamma but Iím taller than her and my feet are bigger. Ugh!

Did I ever ask you if you have big feet? How tall are you? Iím the tallest girl in the 7th grade. I hate being so tall. Some boys tease me and call me tree or slim. I try to ignore them but itís hard. Mamma tells me to be glad that Iím tall and to stand up straight, which I hate to do. Anyway enough about my height.

The 7th grade is the bomb. Thatís junior high school you know. We get to exchange all our classes and we get to choose a few courses as electives. Of course everybody has to take English, Math, History and a science class but I chose chorus as my elective. I love to sing and I can play the piano, a little. I play mostly by ear. If I practice enough, I can usually pick out a song. Iím also beginning to sew pretty well. Of course Mamma is teaching me that, along with Mrs. Earline in Home Economics. You know my Mamma can sew, donít you. She makes a lot of my clothes. Iím one of the best dressed girls because of it. What do you know about my Mamma? Did you, do you care anything about her, or me? That may be too heavy a question. So let me ask, how long have you known my Mamma?

Iíd like to know something about you. Like, whatís your favorite color, your favorite meal, and your favorite TV show? My favorite color, right now, is blue, aquamarine. Thatís also the name of my birthstone, in case you didnít know. My favorite meal is fried chicken. I guess thatís because we have it practically every Sunday. I also love hotdogs and hamburgers but Mamma wonít let me eat too many of them. My favorite desert is chocolate milkshake. I like scary shows so I like Dark Shadows on TV. I hope Iím not boring you with all this information about myself but youíre not here in person to get to know, soooo. Anyway, maybe you donít write because youíre in the army and youíre in a foreign country.

Well, this may be my last letter for awhile.


Your missing daughter

16 years old, November

Dear Father of Mine,

My Mamma died!


Your missing daughter

18 years old, June 7


I really am grown now. Iím 18. I have graduated from high school, the great Pearl Senior High and Iím going to college this fall, to MTSU. I plan to study Sociology, maybe Anthropology. Also Psychology. I love learning about other cultures and peoples. I really wanted to be a model and move to Atlanta or Los Angeles to go to modeling school but my Granny told me Iíd better learn something that would put food on my table. I think she just didnít want me to move far from home. MTSU is in Murfreesboro, which is about 30 miles from Nashville. We also have a lot of relatives there: great uncles and aunts, and a zillion cousins. So off to Murfreesboro I go. I am still sad about my Mamma. I feel all alone in the world. Granny is good and has always been there for me but itís nothing like having your Mamma. My Grampy, Mammaís daddy, died when I was two so I have never really known a father. But my Uncle Raymond and Uncle Archibald, Grannyís brothers in Murfreesboro, come around a few times a year and I always spent two weeks in Murfreesboro when I was growing up. I would stay a few days with Uncle Archibald and Aunt Shugg, a few days with Uncle Raymond and Aunt May but most of my time was spent with my cousin Joe and her family because she has children close to my age. And sheís the best cook in the world. So going to Murfreesboro wasnít be so bad.

What did you do growing up? Do you have sisters and brothers or cousins? Where do you live? Did you finish college? My Mamma didnít because she dropped out to have me. Thatís why she always told me that I was going to college and would finish. I promised her that I would. What would you want your missing daughter to know about you? Or do you not want her to know anything about you, the way it really is?

Sometimes, Iím very angry with you because I figure that you care nothing about me but underneath I really do love you. Iím just, what? Sad, lonely? I canít name all my feelings. Maybe Iíll understand me better, and you, after I take some psychology classes.

Well this 18-year-old is ready to face life. Iím still shy and introverted but I hope I will make it in college at MTSU. Do you have any words of wisdom?

My life up till now, since Mamma died, has been relatively quiet and uneventful. I was asked to run for class queen to be a part of the Miss Pearl High Court but I didnít want to. My English teacher wanted to sponsor me in the AKA debutant ball but I didnít want to. I didnít have a mother and father to walk me in and father to dance with me. Sometimes Iím real embarrassed about being illegitimate. Iíve been called worse, a b_ _ _ _ _ _. I had a ninth grade teacher who that told me I would end up pregnant, out of wedlock. She didnít say ďlike your motherĒ but her body language and face did. I think she knew my mother and didnít like her. Because of her words to me I was determined that that wouldnít happen. So Iím off to college. I may write and tell you what itís like. Although I doubt if youíll answer me.


Your missing daughter

20 years old, June 7

Iím a junior in college and Iím getting married. Iím NOT pregnant but I donít want to keep having sex outside of marriage, so I convinced my boyfriend that we should do the right thing. We were just a few months from being 21, legally grown, that is, old enough for marriage. My Granny signed for me and his Mamma signed for him. I think they both wanted to avoid any out- of- wedlock births. His older brothers, three of them, all had to get married because the girl was pregnant. I donít know what Iím doing but Iím excited. I really love him. I donít plan on quitting school. Neither does he. We will both get part-time jobs and continue in school.

What can I say? My husband to be is really smart. Iím smart too but heís close to genius level. He and I were in the same statistics class and he attended the first session, took his mid-term and final and made an A. I went to class every day and couldnít do better than a C. Heís a great talker. He can talk to anybody. Most of the professors like him and he has lunch with his psychology professor all the time. My Mamma would really like him because he treats me good. Would you? What do you think makes a good man, a good husband? Do you have any idea? Probably not.

21 years old, June 7

This is my one-year anniversary. I didnít think we would make a year because my husband turned out to be very selfish but Iím trying. I graduated in May with a BS in Sociology. Iím also three months pregnant. Iím scared but looking forward to having my baby. I wish I knew something about my missing side of the family. What am I going to tell my child about her grandparents? My Mamma is dead and my father is ______________.

30 years old, June 7

Where are you? Who are you? What kind of person are you? I wish I knew.

Well, Iím divorced; have been for two years. Itís for the best. My husband is a lot like you. He told me he didnít want to be a husband and father anymore. Then he told me I would be okay because I was a much stronger woman that he was a man. Can you believe that! Of course you can.

40 years old, June 7

They say 40 is over the hill and life starts going down- hill after 40. But Iím excited about being 40. I feel that my personality is just about complete. I know more about who I am. Iím shy, and introverted but thatís okay. Iím learning to love myself and not feel that I have to change for anyone. My one weakness is that I still want to know about you, my father, daddy, whatever. I have thought about doing a search for you but I told myself that if you cared anything about me, you would search for me. I would be easy to find. I grew up in the same house where you came to see my mother. My last name was the same as hers. No, she didnít list you as my father on my birth certificate. Mine is blank where it says father. Iím getting over my anger at you and over my embarrassment about being illegitimate but havenít quite gotten over the hurt and sadness about not having you. Hopefully by the time Iím 60, if I havenít heard from you, I will have gotten over the hurt and sadness.

60 years old, June 7

Well I havenít heard from you yet but I have no anger or hurt anymore. I am curious though to know if I have half siblings, who my other relatives are and what they are like. I also wonder if you are still alive. You would probably be around eighty or eighty-five years old, I think. If youíre still living, you may be in pretty good health. My other relatives, who are about your age, are in really good health. My family, at least my Monís side, are blessed with good genes. They age well.

Anyway, at sixty, I am doing GREAT! First of all, Iím saved, born again, a Believer and follower of Jesus Christ. Iíve been saved since I was 10 years old. I love God. I hope you do too. I hope you are a born again Believer. If not, it doesnít take a lot to become a Believer. Let God know (tell Him) that you believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and that God raised Him from the dead. Ask Jesus to forgive you of your sins and to come into your heart and live in your heart. If you believe this and do this, you are saved. Read Romans 10th chapter and 9th verse. It tells you this.

Okay, so this will probably be the last letter that I write to you. But Iím going to research my ancestry to get some idea about my heritage so I wonít feel like half a person. I donít suppose you know anything about those feelings, at least I hope you know who both your parents are and about both sides of your family. I have been approached by people a few times who thought I was someone else or looked like someone. It made me wonder if I had a sister and if she resided in Nashville. But I donít suppose thatís of any interest to you, especially after all this time. I donít know if men have the gene that makes them long for family or that wonít allow them to forget someone that they gave life to. I donít think I could forget a child or not think about a child that I caused to come into the world. But then again, I love children, people really, and Iím from Venus (Iím a woman).

Whoever you are, I pray that you have peace and love in your life.

The Daughter that WasÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖ

I am a native of Nashville, Tennessee. I grew up in an era when children without fathers in the home were called illegitimate, and treated as ďless thanĒ. I never knew my father or even his name. My mother wouldnít talk about him. She got pregnant with me in her freshman year of college.

Although there was no father figure in the home, my mother loved me and my grandmother and other relatives helped me to be a well-rounded person. This story is true although it was written over a period of months rather than years and names were changed to protect the innocent, (my relatives).

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