Sometimes mental illness manifests in the form of religious fervor. Such is the case in “Momma God” written by Glenda Dickey and Bob Parr. A fictionalized memoir, the names have been changed, but the story is true.

It’s a tale of a lifelong love began as teens, torn apart by a zealot mother and reunited more than 50 years later.

Robby Norman’s mom Pauline walked around for days, dazed and confused. She didn’t know who anyone was and apparently had a mental breakdown. She finally recovered, but was convinced she was visited by God. That led her to fortune tellers and a search into the paranormal. Then she found religion. She was convinced God spoke through her and gave her many missions. She became fanatical and controlled her family through God’s messages.

“Her head and body shook. The tone of her voice was caustic and guttural as she spoke for God.

‘Thus saith the Lord God, My anger is kindled against thee, for thou has disobeyed My servant, and thou has disobeyed Me. Therefore, I say, on thy knees, repent! Repent! I…have…spoken… Thus…saith…God.’

God was mad as hell again.”

Then Robby met Sharlet. Pauline and God kept telling Robby to stay away from that girl. But he couldn’t help it. They were in love and planned to get married. Sharlet was 14 when they met, Robbie was 16. They continued to date for a couple of years, and then Robby moved to Oklahoma. God had sent Pauline on a mission that required the move.

Robby convinced Sharlet’s father to let her come to Oklahoma for a two week stay. That was the beginning of the end. It was two weeks of hell for Sharlet. God stayed mad at the pair almost the entire time she was there.

Robby tried to talk Sharlet into getting married while she was there even though Pauline had said she would never sign consent for him. Sharlet wouldn’t, because she promised her father she wouldn’t marry while there. He wanted her to finish school first.

That was the end. Robby caved to his mother’s and God’s insistence to “leave that girl alone.” Robby never sent any more letters and broke up by phone sometime later. Sharlet was devastated and never got over it. She married and had children, though she never really loved again. Robby did the same.

At some point Robby realized his mother was delusional for all those years and had not spoken to God.

After 50 years of agony, Sharlet finally gave up hope of ever seeing Robby again.

In the wake of Hurricane Ike recovery she gets a phone call. It’s Robby. A flood of emotions she had tried to push to the back of her mind came rushing to the forefront.

It’s a compelling story of undying love lost for half a century and found once again. It’s a Lifetime movie waiting to be made.

Dickey and Parr will be at Holiday in the Park Saturday signing and selling “Momma God.”  The festival will be 10 a.m.-dusk at 2700 Western Ave. at the Seale-Alford Plaza next to West Orange City Hall.

“Momma God” is also available at Farmer’s Mercantile and bookstores.

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.