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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:

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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.

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Comments

kestrels_nest
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.
anahata56
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.
saavik
Sep. 2nd, 2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
Does she really 'love' the Lord? Can anyone like that even know what it means to love another?

*Margo shakes her head in sadness*
kestrels_nest
Sep. 2nd, 2009 10:35 pm (UTC)
I have a friend who is a hospital chaplain & CoC minister. I know, from conversations, what he would say of her. He would say that the only thing her Lord and the one he loves and speaks to have in common is a name. Otherwise, they are two totally unrelated entities.

I hope you can put aside your aunt's vitriol, and remember only the love that is between you, so strong that when she responded to nothing else, she responded to "Mommy" when you said it.

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