PAUL GRONDAHL

Award-winning journalist and biographer

Collaboration & Ghostwriting Projects

When Sr. Mary Ann LoGiudice, a Sister of Mercy, becomes a mother to an orphaned girl with AIDS, they discover the love of a lifetime.

That Place Called Home

From Chapter 6: "Making A New Home With Barbara"

Barbara came to live with me just before Independence Day. It was an unorthodox arrangement, to say the least, even to friends. I was a Sister of Mercy, a single parent who had never raised a child before -- although I had baby-sat nieces and nephews and coached teens through childbirth and the early sttates of child rearing. Friends were happy for me and showed their support. Several relatives were initially wary, which I gathered from their responses. The few acquaintances that knew about my becoming a foster parent were curious about this unique situation.

My reply to them all was the same. I said simply, "She loves me. I love her. Barbara has no one else to call Mother. We make each other whole."

That was the emotional part. The practical side was that this living arrangement required an adjustment for both of us. We lived in my three-bedroom, second-floor apartment on Kent Street, just six blocks from Farano House and my office.

A few friends and my sister Carmela, whom we call Mela, helped me paint and decorate Barbara's room. We stenciled a floral border on the wall, and I bought a white wicker bed, dresser and chest set. I picked a Sesame Street theme for Barbara's sheets and towels.

When we had everything ready, I made a little ceremony of showing Barbara the space that would become a room of her own. I had her close her eyes and led her into the bedroom. She finally opened her eyes and looked around, silent and surprised.

"Who do you think this room is for?" I asked.

"It's for me!" Barbara said. She squealed for joy, jumped up and down, and bounded into my arms. I was overwhelmed with emotions and had to fight back tears.