The Power of religion

Went to Mom’s this afternoon to spend some more time with our cousin. She’s someone I’m very glad to have in our family. Someone I would be glad to call friend no matter what.

And I’m glad I went over to Mom’s today, even though goingthere gets harder and harder all the time.

Today we sat around the kitchen table and reminisced about family. Our relationships with our families, the places we’ve lived and the others around us.

We talked abouth ‘the House on Mott Road.’   The house Mom grew up in. How far she had to walk to school, (not very far, to the end of the block.)

Then she spoke of her mother’s fear that she would ‘get involved’ with the boy at the end of the block. His family was Catholic and he was about the same age as Mom. My grandmother lived in the not-unreasonable fear that they would develop an attachment.

After that my cousin spoke of a family that her parents played cards with, something they did regularly. She was a little younger than their daughter and one time when she was there she heard the parents talking about their daughter going to a dance. The family didn’t want their daughter to dance with non-Catholic boys.  My cousin was surprised to hear the comment because she’d never heard anythat type of comment about her family, who were also not Catholic. Then I told them about a time when I was talking with a co-worker about the difficulties of an interfaith marriage.

Then it wasy my turn.  I said something about marriage being hard. Blending families is difficult at best. When you don’t believe the sme things that your spouse believes in, conflict is inevitable.  A co-worker walked in on that conversation and immediately wanted to know what we were talking about.

What I didn’t know was that she had married a man from a different faith. She thought we were talking about her. I can only think that she was already feeling the stresses that discordant beliefs can put on a marriage.

After I told this story my mom said that she hated that some religions should have the power to decide who you should marry.

I swear at that moment I looked at her and thought, ‘Are you crazy?’. This story line got personal for me when my Mom said that my Grandmother was afraid that Mom would marry a Catholic.

Just after that she talked about what her maternal grandparents had planned for her mother. This is my grandmother, Bertha. My grandfather’s name was John. My great-grandparents had planned for Bertha to marry a wealthy farmer, but Bertha fell in love with a guy that came to the library where she worked. And, according to my Mom, that was that. The plan that my great-grandparent’s had came to naught. My grandmother was married to a poor farmer.  From there, I’ve heard other stories, but I’d like to hear more.

I’d started this post thinking about religion and all of it’s weeknesses.

But I keep going back to the things that matter to me.  Religion isn’t one of them.

Our family got together for Easter.  If anyone went to church to celebrate the rebirth of Christ, I didnt hear about it. 

Mom didn’t even asked about all of the minutiae that she’s focused on for so many years.

It wasn’t about eggs or candy; it wasn’t about table linens or silverware.  It wasn’t even about Easter baskets.

It was about family.  About being together.  And that’s always what Mom has done. 

Brought many of the disparate pieces of the family together.

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