The spiritual home of my childhood was a grim place. Fear and shame crouched in the dark corners. It was a great day when my jovial Grandpa John decided it was time to redecorate with bright colors, cheerfulness, lots of sunshine and fresh air. Dismal was transformed into delightful.
However, after Grandpa died, my father and my older brothers gradually repainted the rooms with somber hues, and they hung heavy drapes to diminish the sun. Fear crept back into the dark corners. My mother and her friends were banished to the kitchen and nursery. But we cherished the memory of what was possible.
Then one day, our cousin Bernie from Boston came to live with us. He had gotten into trouble for helping some people molest children. To make room, my bed was moved downstairs to a sun porch off the kitchen. At least it was bright. My father explained, “Bernie is family, and he’s our kind of people.”
Next came another cousin, from the St. Pius X Society. He denied that the Holocaust ever happened, but again my father said, “He’s family, and despite his flaws he too is our kind of people.” This time my bed was moved to the basement, near the furnace room. At least it was warm.
One day a group of cousins came to stay with us, the Anglican family. They don’t like uppity women and gays. This added considerable tension with my Mom, but my father said, “They are family, and they are my kind of people.” So my bed was moved again, this time to a loft in the garage. It might be pretty cool in winter, but at least there is more fresh air than in the basement.
Yesterday, we received a letter that some cousins from Rome are coming, the Inquisitors. They said that they’ve heard alarming rumors about my mother, and my sisters and me. They want to look into it. My father says, “They are family, and very much my kind of people.” Evidently my bed will be moved into a house across the street. My father explained, “Despite your flaws, you’re still family. But you’re not really my kind of people.”
I’ll still be invited to Sunday dinner. However, I won’t be allowed to eat.
In Metuchen, The Mission Begins
1 day ago