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The end

Well, yes. To all events, there comes an ending, and everyone had been invited back to the restaurant for a luncheon buffet I had arranged. For me, there is nothing more depressing than getting all these people together and then expecting them all to walk away from the gravesite, all alone. So there had to be some way for people to visit and to take care of each other. So there was lunch.

The restaurant did a beautiful job, as I knew they would. They laid out trays of lunch meat and cheeses and salads and pickles and deviled eggs and chips and summer fruits and cookies and cakes, tea and coffee. Just wonderful. And we had a banquet room all to ourselves, where the kidlets could feel free to run around and loose some of the strangeness and pent energy with which the whole day had left them.

These are a couple of my favorite pictures from that:






Having five children under eight certainly livened things up a bit, and gave us a shot of healthy young life in the midst of being reminded of our mortality.

And then my Aunt Clara nabbed me.

For the record, my Aunt Clara is a gigantic pain in the ass. She was the one who phoned me, in the middle of this whole thing and at 7 in the morning, to let me know that if we buried mother where she buried her sister, we could bury both her AND my Dad for only $50 for the second burial! Aunt Clara, who is always full of helpful and totally unwanted information. Aunt Clara, with whom I had, till this point, tried to be so very gentle.

Aunt Clara felt that it was time to speak her piece. And she did. With a vengeance.

She tearfully told me how much I hurt my mother with my rejection of Christianity, and how everyone in my whole family was praying for me, because I shouldn't be living the life I am living, without Jesus as Lord of my life. She told me how tearfully my mother had prayed for my soul, and for the day when I would turn my life around, and become the Christian she wanted me to be. She told me how hurt she was when I told her that I was glad that mother was reunited with so many of the people she loved, because she knew--she KNEW, mind--that, just like her, the only person she would really like to see would be her Savior, and how she knew that it would grieve my mother's heart to think that I would not be there with her.

She wept bitter, pleading tears as she confronted me with the sorry state of my soul, and the shambles of my life, and with the memory of how much I had hurt my mother.

She let me know, after everything that had happened in the last four months, what a complete and utter failure and disappointment I was.

And it was all I could do--ALL I could do--to keep from throwing every bitterness, every anger, every agonizing hurt that Christianity had ever done me in her face. And every single solitary thing that I thought about what she had always done, and what she was doing now. I wanted to let her know just what kind of agony her Lord and Savior allowed my mother to suffer in the last four months, with naught but a witch at her side, because the Christians had abandoned both my mother and my father, with so few of them doing nothing so simple as picking up the phone to check on them.

I wanted to let her know that, at that moment, my thoughts of Christ and his people were less than charitable, because it seemed as if they had little or nothing to do with anything that had most recently transpired.

But that I was used to that, because all of them had abandoned me years ago.

But I didn't. And I didn't because I was reminded, in that moment, that my Goddess demands kindness. Demands that I be Her hands and Her words in the world. That She holds me up in the face of confrontation and persecution, and that She helps me see the good intent behind the words and actions, no matter how botched they are.

And so, even though everything went off PERFECTLY, I walked out of there feeling that my whole family viewed me as a failure.

Thanks, Aunt Clara. You're a peach. Jesus' Little Soldier, with your pleading and tearful hate and violence.

So in the end, I know that what I did was nothing. In the end, I know that all I am is all I have always been to them--not good enough. And in the end, what went on between my mother and me was built on a lie--a lie that I had convinced myself had finally become the truth. That she had finally reached an ability to approve of me, to trust me, and to be satisfied with me.

I believe that people find, after death, exactly what they hope for. I believe that, after death, the final rewards come, and that each human being finds the peace and the happiness that they have wished for. I believe that if people want to go home to Jesus, then they do.

But I have to say that I hate the Jesus that compels such easy and unthinking and mindless cruelty, and it will not be his face I seek at the end of my life.

Not now, not ever.

So Mommy, sleep in peace, and in the comfort you so much deserved and so much wanted. And know that I am satisfied with YOU--not in your Christianity, but in your wonderful, flawed and perfect humanity. I will miss you as my Mother, for all the earthly happiness you gave me, and for all you taught me. I give you the release that you could not give me.

I love you. I forgive you. And I will see you again.



( 50 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 2nd, 2009 03:31 pm (UTC)
My mother was a "born again" Christian through the Church of Scotland.

She would have given your Aunt Clara an earful, just as she did to the Church Elder who criticised her because her children weren't members of the church. To her *actions* were far more important than just waving a flag for a particular church. For all that you and I are not Christians, YOU are far more "christian" in your actions than most of them.

Sep. 2nd, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry if this final entry was brutal. But brutal was the way it felt to me, and I wouldn't be telling the truth if I just let it go.

And in the end, this journal is for me--the place I come to tell myself the truth.
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Sep. 2nd, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
Well, Serendipity and Momus both decided to step away for a moment yesterday, so you and I can both be thankful that I was not there to witness Aunt Clara's cruelty... because -- while I hope my impulse control would have been up to the task, that test has yet to happen -- I would not have been so restrained as you were.

With all modesty and concern for how it looks defenestrated, having been on the receiving end of the "you are more Christian than many Christians I know", I join wolfette in insisting that you have nothing to be ashamed of in the sight of Jesus. I expect Him to join the volleyball game in the Summerlands I plan to start as soon as I arrive there.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)
He always has been part of my pantheon, I will confess.

But godz, he has some ridiculous children.
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Sep. 2nd, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)
Belle, I wish like hell I could have been there, because unlike you, I wouldn't have been able to stop myself. That woman had NO right to say those things to you!
wolfette is right. Your actions speak louder than any word.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 03:47 pm (UTC)
Curses and blessings are a hair's thickness apart. A split atom's thickness apart.

"May you die with the Work of your Life surrounding you" is one of those statements. Your Patron Works through you, and you will be so blessed. I would wish the same for your Aunt Clara - were it my place to do so.

But you know? You have enough grief, yours is not the tool by which I reflect on mine. Instead of bringing up old hurts because your comments are akin to ones I have thought, I prefer to wish you warmth, and say to you truly:

When your time comes, may you die with the Work of your Life surrounding, embracing, and giving strength and victory to you and yours. And until then, may you Live the same way.

Sep. 2nd, 2009 03:52 pm (UTC)
I love you so much.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 04:10 pm (UTC)
Your aunt is a bitch. I have been blessed to know some wonderful Christians who would have taken that woman off in a corner and read her the riot act for such horrible, very UNChristian behavior. I do not know and really do not want to know the Jesus Christ these people babble about. He most certainly is NOT the Lord I try in my own way to serve. Where is the Love? Where is the understanding? Where is the compassion? Maybe I live in a world of my own, but my Lord Jesus would be very displeased with such horrible behavior in anyone.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 04:15 pm (UTC)
/begin Lion-cat mode
I guess it is for the best that I was too far away and unable to be there, or your Auntie would surely have had cause for her alligator tears.

How dare she? How could she possibly know what transpired between you and your Mom, especially during her last illness. She was looking at everything she saw with Jesus-coloured blinders and could no more see the kindness and love you hold for your parents than a cave-worm.

You know that 99% of what she said was crap, and unworthy of her, your Mom and you. Perhaps that is one reason why you were able to show such restraint in the face of her diatribe (that and the inherent respect you have for your Mother).

So no. just no. Your life is not to be judged by her purblind standards. I trust that your Goddess judges you every day. But that is Her priviledge, not your Auntie's.

/end Lion-cat mode
Sep. 2nd, 2009 04:30 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry that you had to deal with that... woman.

She had no business doing or saying what she did and said.

And I'm sorry for your loss.

About what you said about what went on between your mother and you at the end, about feeling accepted and trusted? Don't let your so-called "aunt" take that away from you. She wasn't there, and she doesn't know. She's using you as a target because she can. She's a busybody and a noodj, and you can and should ignore her.

I'm so sorry that you had to go through that.

My response to her is: Jesus said "By their fruits shall ye know them." Her fruits are rotten. Yours are not.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 04:36 pm (UTC)
What I might have said to Aunt Clara
In sober (ha!.. ahem) afterthought, my mind's ear can hear me saying...

"Oh, my dear, I am so sorry for you. The Jesus my Christian friends have taught me to know calls us to love each other as He loves us, and what you just said is the most unloving thing I've ever heard. I shall pray that someday you will learn about the love of Jesus."

silkensteel, your initial post is beautiful, and an excellent counter-point to the negative energy I've expressed here. Thank you.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 09:11 pm (UTC)
Re: What I might have said to Aunt Clara
Imagine me telling my Aunt Clara that I hope that someday she finds the real Jesus, and not the day-glo one she found between the couch cushions at some rummage sale!

Ah, Sweetie--I, like my hero Barney Frank, refuse to argue with a dining room table. And wonder what planet these people are from.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 04:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, Belle, I'm so sorry. Hugs, and love (yes, I do mean that, based on what I've seen you you), and my deepest respect. That, first, last and always.

And I hope I'm not overstepping here, but...your aunt is a sanctimonious, petty, vindictive, small-souled self-righteous buzzard. Her spirit could sit on the edge of a piece of paper and swing its heels, it's that small. In the terms of her own bible (which is not and has never been mine), she is a whited sepulchre. If "God is Love", then she knows nothing of God, because clearly she knows nothing of love. You do not know that your mother disapproved of you; you know only that your aunt said it. If "by their deeds you shall know them", then take the deeds and words of your mother as the indication of the truth of her heart. I suspect that your aunt is presuming to read your mother's mind; that since Clara would have said such a thing to such a daughter as you have been to your parents, so of course your mother must have felt the same way. Such as your aunt cannot conceive that another might feel differently, because she has no empathy at all. And if she can attack you in that fashion at your mother's wake - the very day of her funeral! - then I do not think she can claim much of humanity, either.

And dearheart, that is not an abstract rant at all. My whole family, except my parents, cut me off when I married my husband because he was not and is not Jewish. (That I'm a Witch now is in part because of that.) I was lucky; when my aunt put similar words in my dad's mouth, my dad was yet living and clear-minded enough that I could ask him direct. He had lost half his tongue to cancer, and had to struggle mightily to speak clearly enough to be understood, but he insisted I dial the phone for him and stay while he told my aunt and uncle both exactly how wrong they were, making sure they understood what he had said. So truly, you do not know that's what your mother thought, or felt, or wanted, only that your aunt had the unmitigated gall to put words in the mouth of a woman who could not contradict her.

You were not brutal in posting this. It is your aunt who was brutal. And if she finds, in the World to Come, that she has only those to greet her that meet her criteria, then I suspect she will be very lonely.

May She who sings among the stars help you to find peace and healing.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:50 pm (UTC)
You know, my Aunt's obsessive frugality has always been a family joke. She is the tin foil saver and the freezer of smorgasbord give-aways. I was glad that the restaurant cleared away the food when we were done, because it would have only been like her had she shoved it all in her purse!

But it's not such a joke when one sees the stinginess of her soul, and the stinginess of her love, and the stinginess of her empathy. She is miserly in all but her own conviction that she is right--in that, and only that, she is a complete spendthrift!

It never fails to astound me how amazingly free folks can be with their hurtful words. I'm sure that she lay her head on her pillow last night, thanking her Lord that she was given the opportunity to speak to me that way. I'm sure she slept like a baby.

I cannot even begin to imagine that she knows how very deeply she hurt me, nor how very much she actually drove me away from the Lord she loves so much.
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Sep. 2nd, 2009 04:41 pm (UTC)
Over the short time I've known you, you have always been open and honest with me. You've shown kindness and heartfelt sympathy during the worst time in my life. Thank you. *HUGS

I think it's who you are, not what deity you believe in, that matters the most. Being Christian, doesn't give anyone the right to demand or try to convince others to believe in what they believe in. In my faith, I believe we have the right to chose what we do and who we are. I'm sorry Christians have pushed themselves to the brink where they feel they can use their beliefs to attack others, to me this isn't how a real Christian should be behaving. I for one do not condone that behavior at all.

I've had some rough times these last 8 months, as you know. My faith has been tested on more than one occasion. (ie: requesting our pastor come over and help with my teenager, who was having a very bad time coping with the loss of his mother, to the point the school counselor called me and told me to "come and get him now!", and the pastor did not respond until nearly a month later, with only a phone call.) There have been many other moments in my entire life where Christianity has let me down, or at the very least left me wondering.

Before Robin died, our Pastor was standing there next to her hospital bed, on the other side was a very close friend of ours who is Wiccan. We also had some Jewish friends in the room, and several others who are not Christian. Our Wiccan friend leaned over and quietly told Robin she had all her bases covered. At the memorial service, we held it in our Christian church, we had friends and family from all walks of life and faiths, the place was packed. At that moment, I knew it didn't matter which deity we believed in, what mattered was that we believed in each other. Robin was a Christian. She had many friends, but not because she was a Christian, but because she was herself.

So when it comes right down to it, you are a wonderful lady, and a dear friend, not because of what you believe in, but what you truly feel inside you. I admire you, and know that you are walking your own path, a different path than the one I'm walking... or is it. Several people have already stated that you act better than most Christians do. I would have to agree with this.

I'm sorry for your loss. I'm also sorry you have had to deal with your Aunt. Know that you did the right thing. (as much as you probably would have liked to tell her off) I offer my condolences and hugs.

(I probably didn't get my point across very well, and once again have written too much. You being you, is what matters. And you are a wonderful lady and a great friend. *HUGS)
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:41 pm (UTC)
I would never do anything to hurt my Daddy. Never. And defending myself would have done so. In the end, it wasn't worth the hurt it would have caused.

I feel much the same way you do. Before my last surgery, a priest came in to visit me and to pray with me for a successful procedure. I bless him, because he didn't blink when I told him I was a pagan, and he asked permission to pray for me, and when I granted it, he did--not for the health of my soul that I would see the light, but for the health of my body, that I be kept safe in surgery and be restored.

I don't mean to paint Christians or Christianity with a broad brush--there have been many who have done me kindness, especially over this last week. But I do have to say that I believe, firmly, that "faith without works is dead", and that no one has the right to preach at me who hasn't done the work. And very few of them did. And it isn't even for me that I ask, because I am a pagan, and have been for many years. They owe me nothing. But to have left my father, my faithful father, to struggle with this for so very long...inexcusable. And shame on the pastor who didn't come when you called. Sorry if that offends you, but shame on him anyway.

You and I have spoken before about how to treat grieving people, and to allow them their grief as they work through it. It's very probable that Aunt Clara feels that she did what she did as a tribute to my mother--and that's what helps me think about forgiving her. That and my own belief that we are obliged to show unfailing kindness to one another, especially in the midst of times like this. But I just wish she would have stuck to putting tracts in cards, and perhaps giving me a bit of time. That would have made all of this much easier to take.
(no subject) - sammyd - Sep. 2nd, 2009 10:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 2nd, 2009 04:57 pm (UTC)
I've posted a few times about my husband's Uncle Raymond in my journal. Frankly, if he had been there and heard Aunt Clara's Special Message, his 88 yr old self would have tore strips off her up one side and down the other, by the Bible, book, chapter, and verse. And then would have gotten into the fact that the event was supposed to be a celebration of your mother's life, not a stage for a petty wannabe pharisee.

Hugs to you, Belle. For being you.

Sep. 2nd, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
Okay... as someone who was baptized CoC and trained in the Bible & Christianity by my late grandfather who was one of the most Christian person I've ever known (he'd give his last $20 to a man and his family stuck on the side of the road in a broken car... oh wait, he did do that), someone who then became a High Priestess, someone who then was confirmed as an Episcopalian; let me tell you this... Aunt Clara was not behaving in a Christian manner. No way. No how. Just not, three back snaps, & talk to the hand. In fact, I give you permission to let her join Gran Alice Bitch Queen of the Universe, in being Bitch Queen of the Universe. ::folds arms across chest and nods firmly:: So there!

You on the other hand, have done nothing but behave with grace and decorum. In fact, you have behaved in the manner appropriate to those religions created by the Divine so that all of mankind can find it/her/him. Why are there so many religions with the same creed that everyone treat each other like brother/sister, iow "Play nice & don't hurt each other, be good to the earth"? Because everyone is different and the Divine is so grand that we all are unable to perceive the Divine all at once. This is a duh thing. It's unfortunate that there are so many who are lacking in faith that they must try to convert everyone. That's what my grandfather taught me. He said that those who are the most persistent in trying to convert you to something are those whose faith is unsure. Remember that.

I love you. You are strong.

For every post there will be hugs and purrs... and a reminder...

May the memories of love outweigh the grief of loss.

We love you.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 05:46 pm (UTC)
I cannot add much, if anything, to the above comments.

Even though we are a continent apart, you were there for me when my mother passed. Due to my circumstanes we did not have a funeral or a family wake. I probably would have received the same sort of 'blessing' from some of my family members if we had. As it was, I was not as restrained as you when I was taken to task.

I admire you so much because you do talk the talk and walk the walk. I aspire to be like you.

Others are so very right when they say that Aunt Clara was putting words in your mother's mouth that your mother is unable to refute. But your mother's actions and love for you during her last years should be proof enough that Aunt Clara is lying to herself so that she can overlook her own failures.

I wonder how many of these Christian family members will, in a year, be around to put flowers of rememberance on your mother's grave?

Sep. 2nd, 2009 06:33 pm (UTC)

Some of God's fanclub are nuts.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:20 pm (UTC)
This Christian would have given that Christian a piece of my mind.

I know that grief drives people to do stupid, but this is above and beyond the call.

I choose to believe in the idea of "love thy neighbor as thyself" as the driving force behind my faith.

That's not love. And it wasn't right. And it wasn't Christian.

You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:43 pm (UTC)
You know, I know it isn't Christian.

I wish you guys would kick all these losers out. Seriously. They do you a great disservice! ;-)
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Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
Oh my, the cruelty of her words and the timing just boggles my mind.

I can't add anything really, several other ppl have spoken so well already - I do hold you in positive thoughts and in love. Be well.
Sep. 2nd, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC)
Ya know what...your Aunt Clara is full of shit.

Like she was there to see how your Mum felt about you, like she just knows what's going though God's mind...

I think NOT!

Ignore her...she's not worth the effort to spit on.
Chances are, she was just eaten up with bile because you did all this and made everything wonderful...and she just had to bring you down, what with you not being a Good Christian, like her...and her not having done a damn thing but mouth false piety..she just could bear the thought you might thing you were better than her.

But you know what.
You are...and not just because you didn't give her the ear-bashing that she so richly deserves. But because no matter what some worm-eaten shrivelled bitter little soul might say, you did good!

[although, I do hope that once you've had time to sit down and calm down, you write her a nice letter...saying exactly what you ought to say, and full of sweet poison. Because Belle m'dear, damn but that harpy needs setting straight!]
Sep. 2nd, 2009 11:01 pm (UTC)
"When therefore they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith to him: Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He saith to him again: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith to him: yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith to him: Feed my lambs. He said to him the third time: Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he had said to him the third time: Lovest thou me? And he said to him: Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee. He said to him: Feed my sheep." --John 21:15-17

"Allah will not take you to task for that which is unintentional in your oaths, but He will take you to task for the oaths which ye swear in earnest. The expiation thereof is the feeding of ten of the needy with the average of that wherewith ye feed your own folk, or the clothing of them, or the liberation of a slave, and for him who findeth not (the wherewithal to do so) then a three days' fast. This is the expiation of your oaths when ye have sworn; and keep your oaths. Thus Allah expoundeth unto you His revelations in order that ye may give thanks." --Qu'ran 5:89

"I counsel thee, Stray-Singer, accept my counsels,
they will be thy boon if thou obey'st them,
they will work thy weal if thou win'st them:
should thou long to fare over fell and firth
provide thee well with food." --Havamal, verse 115

Don't convince yourself that you did nothing, dear Sister. What you did was right, not only by your faith and on your honor, but also by their own scriptures and those of virtually the entire planet. You fed people in time of need and mourning. That is a most holy calling... perhaps the most holy calling we mortals can answer.

And that's true no matter whom their god is!
Sep. 2nd, 2009 11:32 pm (UTC)
I don't think it was the relationship you had with your mother that was the lie.

Your Aunt Clara is damned arrogant to assume to know your mother's min and put words in her mouth that she can't refute.

If your Mom popped by to hear it, I hope she decides to give her a good old fashioned haunting!

(Deleted comment)
Sep. 3rd, 2009 12:21 am (UTC)
I had something similar to this happen when my grandmother died a year and a half ago. I was at the family viewing, quietly crying and grieving, when my wonderful father (Super Christian of the Decade) wanted to know WHY I was crying because Grandma was in heaven and would shed no more tears. Unless, of course, I didn't know where I was going when I died and in that case I should go ahead and get that straightened out now while I have a chance. (This is almost verbatim.) The funeral service the next day was one great big altar call.

I've gotten to the point lately where, even though I've deconverted, I do find more comfort in God and some Christian precepts. This, however, was neither welcome nor necessary; telling me I'm a godless sinner who will never see my grandmother again while in the midst of the grieving process was decidedly unfair. And he doesn't even know yet that I'm pagan...

I'm sorry for this and give you many long distance hugs. I love you.
Sep. 3rd, 2009 01:50 am (UTC)
My answer to your father would be that tears are not for the dead, they are for the living, who are yet bound to this world and feel pain and loss.

And my family doesn't know I'm Pagan either, because I will not be the cause of so much of pain to them.
(no subject) - weedblossom - Sep. 3rd, 2009 02:01 am (UTC) - Expand
Sep. 3rd, 2009 04:18 am (UTC)
I hope I'm not out of place commenting on such a personal topic as this, but since I've enjoyed your hospitality and your internet presence, I just wanted you to know how impressed I've always been with your honest and loving spirit. Nothing that anyone could say, out of their own disconnection and neediness, could ever diminish the grace and devotion you brought to your mother's last days. By the accounting here, you did the very best you could and gave what no one else could have given--up to and including not defending yourself out of care for your father. That was noble.

I read something in a book once that has helped me a lot over the years. "When a child or anyone is unhappy and self-defeating, they are saying many things about themselves and nothing about us. They never can be saying anything about us." Hurtful words are hurtful. But those people really do not know what they're doing, and they cannot be taken seriously. Don't know if that helps--but when you have so many people telling you how great you are, I think you win by acclamation. Your aunt's opinion has hanging chads and should be ruled null and void.
Sep. 3rd, 2009 06:15 am (UTC)
Oh Jesus (and yes, pun intended -- couldn't help myself). Oh Jesus, that's not a Christian act; Jesus himself said that nobody can serve two masters at one time, and Aunt Clara is so clearly worshiping herself that I doubt she has any room left for worshiping (or even listening to) Jesus.

Put my vote in with those other Christians who posted above me -- I think we're voting your aunt of the island.
Sep. 3rd, 2009 07:04 am (UTC)
Other people have already said what I wanted to say, better than I can. So this is just to say that Candi & I join the rest of your friends in lifting you up. We're praying for you and your family, that your journey through your grief is a quiet one, buoyed up and supported by your true family and friends.
Sep. 3rd, 2009 11:18 am (UTC)
Jason, I think that you need to consider missionary work.

On the basis of what I know of you, I think that there is a deep need for missionaries like yourself to this little section of southeastern Pennsylvania.

Come here and show them the real face of your Lord. It would make a world of difference, I think.
Sep. 12th, 2009 02:43 am (UTC)
I think you need this for your car:


I love you, seebling. Take the broom out of Aunt Clara's ass and fly to someplace more positive. ;)
Sep. 12th, 2009 02:44 am (UTC)
Mainly, as far away from her as humanly possible. :)
( 50 comments — Leave a comment )



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