Sunday, July 26, 2009

"The Truth" as my mother sees it

I spent a few hours with family yesterday. My mother was in rare form, being touchy feely with my husband, whispering to him about how fat I am getting, asking Ashley (her 13 year old grandchild for Gods' sakes) if she can borrow her shoes, staring at people who look "different", trash talking Mexicans, buying a dress that was designed with a teenager in mind and trying to create drama the whole day long.

Much of this is par for the course, but I had a bit of trouble when the talk turned to religion. She asked me if I had heard that Michael Jackson's mother would be bringing his children up as Jehovah's Witnesses. I said that I had heard that and that it was too bad. That set mom off. Apparently she is jumping back on the Witness bandwagon. She has been inactive since I was in middle school, but she admitted that she is reading the Watchtower and Awake again and is talking more about "The Truth" with her mother and sister. She started asking me questions, like didn't I realize that the end is near and reminding me that there is only one true religion. She said that she can't believe that I think that the world is "really really old". I mentioned that the Bible was written over hundreds of years by hundreds of different people and she may as well have shouted "Blasphemy!", her cheeks turned red and she actually put her hands to her face like the kid in "Home Alone". She said that kind of talk made her nervous and we would have to stop talking. That's just the highlights.

Mom hasn't talked religion to me since I was 15 years old, around the time I left home. This little talk ripped me apart, I am still shaken by it a day later. I am flashing back to the way it was when I was a child, when she was devout. I keep thinking about how she dissuaded me from making friends outside of the Witness kids (there were none in my elementary school except me) because all of the other kids were going to burn in Hell when the end came. I remember reading books and looking at pictures showing the non believers burning when the end came. I remember mom telling me that if I was good, I might die without pain and be resurrected to live in paradise on earth.

I remember asking questions, so many questions and the answer was always "because God said so". This was the answer to questions such as, "Why can't I get my hair cut?", "Why can't I be in Girl Scouts?", "Why do we have to hide when the trick or treaters come to the door?" and "Why can't I have friends come over to play?"
Even now, as an adult, I am often reminded of the dozens of cousins, Aunts and Uncle that I was not allowed to know because they were Lutheran or Catholic. I am painfully reminded of this each and every time we spend a holiday with my husband's extended family.

I fear what will happen next. Will my mother go so far as to shun me and my family like my Aunt did with my cousin? Will she talk to Ashley about "The Truth"? Will she be sucked in to that cult mentality again? Will she drive my father nuts? I just hope that this will pass, that when I refuse to talk about it with her or argue with her about it that she will let it go. I don't know what else I can do at this point but hope and wait.

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