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I Answered A Prayer




I want to tell you that my parents were not bad people. I also want to tell you about all the mistakes they made and have you validate my resentments.


They weren't bad people. They were law-abiding, patriotic, and paid their bills. They were also uneducated, damaged, and a product of their generation (The Depression and WW2).


I idolized my dad, as most little girls do. I didn't learn about his personal failings until after he was dead, which I guess is ok in the long run. He was handsome and strong and charismatic up until the arthritis and prostate problems, then emphysema and lung cancer, eventually got the best of him back in 1990.


He'd joined the army when WW2 broke out and made a career out of it, retiring as an Army Master Sergeant a few years before I was born in 1963. He was already in the army when he met and married my mother. They were stationed in Germany and that's where my older brother and sister were born. They moved every 18-24 months and eventually retired to Arkansas, where I came along.


Of course, since he worked up until I was 12, and after that was withdrawn and sullen and watched TV for 16 hours a day, I spent far more time interacting with my mother, and my maternal grandmother, who lived with us.


My mother is still living; she's 82 now. I haven't seen her since my dad died 21 years ago. We talked on the phone a couple times back in the 1990s. We always exchange a few letters or emails throughout the year, and every birthday I get a very sappy/mushy card from her. But I don't trust her; even telling you about her fills me with anxiety; the thought of visiting her is scary beyond belief.


The first time she disowned me.... yes, the first time.... it was because I lied to them, then eloped with my current husband of almost 30 years. My husband is black; I'm white. I'd already been forbidden to see him. I saw him anyway. Then we were secretly engaged. Then I got pregnant. Then we eloped. I wrote home and told them what I'd done. Then I got disowned. (There are a lot more details, obviously, but this is enough.) I was 18; it was 1982. Eventually things were patched over somewhat, and we were able to have family visits, but it was never comfortable or good.


The second time she disowned me, in like 1998 or so, was after she'd started taking Prozac and had found Jesus at a Pentecostal Church. She began writing me uncharacteristically verbose, long letters about how happy she was in church, how she was handing out food to the poor and singing in the choir (this from a woman who barely ever left the house throughout my childhood). I wrote her back, genuinely happy that she was finally happy.


Then she started pushing for me to get saved. She wrote that after she'd miscarried those other three babies she'd been down on her knees praying to Jesus, begging for another chance, another child, and if Jesus gave her another baby, she'd dedicate that baby to Jesus. (Whatever that means.... I don't know what she thought that entailed.) She said that I was the answer to that desperate prayer. She wanted me to be saved and baptized so that we could all be together again in heaven someday.


If you read the blog I posted on 20 Jan, you'll see that I had already been saved and baptized. She was there in the tank with me when I got dunked. Further, my husband is the son of a minister and while we didn't go to church regularly by that point, I was still a believer in God (and many other supernatural things). My in-depth Bible study was to come later; at that point, I considered myself ...lapsed, perhaps, certainly no fanatic or particular denomination... but still in the fold.


But what upset me most was that she didn't remember that I'd been saved and baptized already. It had been an important pivotal moment of my young life, and she obviously thought it was essential, but she didn't remember it had been done despite being present in the tank with me.


I wrote back and told her that I had been saved and baptized and that while I was very glad she was happy, that I wasn't ready to .... I don't know how I phrased it. Join a church? Make whatever commitment she thought I should make? See things her way?




The answer I got was that Jesus had come to divide families...


Luke 12:51-53 "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”


(she literally wrote out the verse in her letter) and that if i couldn't accept Jesus into my heart, then she wouldn't be able to correspond with me anymore. And she didn't.


I bet you can't wait for the next installment. We're having so much fun!


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It's strange, I lost my dad April 1990. After his departure it took me about a year of reflection to began "unwrapping" the unspoken language of his love. I'm entering the 21th year of his departure and am still encountering the subtle ways that said he loved his family. Dad could not express his feeling in spoken words.


And after 60+ years of living I can only speculate as to how he chose to find solutions at the bottom of a bottle.


Dad died from complications encountered while having carotid-artery endarterectomy. In other words his heart was "broken" and it killed him. I can only surmise that his troubles both with his "heart" and with his self medicating were the results of his silent desperation. He never demonstrated any satisfaction with life. Obligation was his motivation. His life was dis-remembered. Re-membering his life and what it said to me is no easy task; re-membering never is. Oh, how the memories "flood" my conscious "heart".


As for your mom's thinking maybe she did get something right-- I'll quote a reply of Antlerman to Mister Pappy: (I have modified it slightly to express my point)  

You are"...fulfilling what the real gist of those verses mean, if you understand that what those words mean is that the pursuit of higher truth, being true to that light in you, should be the first priority of ones life, and that in so doing the result may be breaking with the traditions and customs, the norms, of family and friends. ...Higher truth always exists, and each age finds a new way into that, and to do this will often result is breaking with family and they result in rejection and isolation from the group. It's the brave path. ..."


"Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth." RUMI


May yours become "good grief!"



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