Last week Jaime got into a conversation with my mother about religion. My mother has been through a lot in her life. As I said in A Conversation With My Father ,she was thrown in prison by the Securitate when my father escaped from Romania. Then my father abused her and her children. She took me and my sister and hid from my father when we lived in Houston. We stayed at a place called “The Bridge” (I’ve been trying to find a website, but alas I don’t think they have one), a shelter of sorts. I have interesting memories from The Bridge, and I’ll write them down later.
Later, in California, with my father’s abusive behavior at its worst, she left him, divorcing him. After the divorce, we were introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by our landlords, the Tanners, (a young, but fast growing family. At this point they had three kids, though later I heard they moved to Fresno, had six kids when brother Tanner left his wife after he studied law).
Life improved dramatically for us after the divorce and baptism in the church. My mom worked like crazy, at one point working three jobs. She worked at Richman Brothers a company that went out of business in the late 80s, Men’s Wearhouse, where she still works, and a Macy’s style store I think called Palais Royale, but I think that’s wrong. She told me that she worked so much to make sure that she could give us all we wanted, in order to win our hearts and minds, so we wouldn’t want to go to our father for custody.
Nearly four years after the divorce, my mom found new love in a man named Wayne. She had flirted relationships with other men including a Steven Jolly who had three kids (Silvia and I got along great with them), but none stuck until Wayne. Wayne had his baggage too (and don’t worry I’ll get to that at some point), which ended up putting him in prison for seven years after he married my mom. Basically one of his ex-wives (no, not a polygamist, but he did marry three other times), accused him of sexually assaulting his adopted son and the jury believed it. I couldn’t see him as a sex offender (as a teenager, I rebelled against him being my father, and never saw any indication of a sex offender—but maybe he never thought of me as a target. In any case, I believe the charge was vindictive and vengeful on the part of his ex-wife, rather than based on truth, and she convinced, brainwashed their adopted son to say what he did. We won’t know though until the afterlife). Now my mother’s new found love was in prison and she had to file for bankruptcy as they were living on two salaries, and now had to drop to one. She could not. Worse, the IRS was bugging her for Wayne taking out his retirement early to pay his legal fees. Since they had filed jointly, and he in prison, the IRS felt just peachy to go after the wife. Yeah, we’re no fans of the IRS or the government in my family.
So now, I am about to go on my mission and we decide to move to Utah. Silvia was at BYU while my mom would have been living in California all by herself (and she didn’t like California), so we decided to move to Utah so they could be close to each other. While on my mission, I receive a letter from Silvia stating that she was going to leave the church. (this is something I will tackle separately later). Clearly, I was shocked. One of the few things in my life that truly shocked me. Here I was serving the Lord while my family was falling away from the church. I go home after completing the mission to find that my mom is thinking about leaving the church also. She too had been treated badly by the members of the ward there in Orem. Her Relief Society president, who had a high position at BYU, criticized her for how she raised her children, Silvia and myself. Maybe she didn’t realize that that insulted all three of us. This woman basically implied that Silvia was not a good person, that I was not a good person. I had just come home from a mission and had gone to the temple. Silvia was just about to get married. Neither of us ever did drugs (not like the multitude of Utahn kids), stole anything, or any other serious thing. Not only that, but my mother, as I’ve said earlier, worked three jobs at one point to raise us up. After all that effort, which did actually pay off, it sure hurts when someone, especially someone in a position of power and influence, says, “you didn’t do a good job raising your kids.”
My mom has shed tears on several occasions over the things members in Utah have said about her. She never fit in with the members, who, being cliquish, never realized to let her, myself or my sister into the group.
Silvia and her husband Brad, no fan of the church, not a member and not really religious (more on them another time), decide to move to Rhode Island, where Brad is from, where Brad was to join his father in the chiropractic business. My mom took advantage of this out, and she left Utah quickly.
Living in New England has given my mom an excuse not to even consider consorting with Mormons. There not being a church on every block, she could quietly slip into annonymity. She felt good about it, felt freer, went back to her original thoughts about her belief in Christ, that what is important is that you believe in Him in your heart, and not on any organized religion. How like her mother she turned!
For the past several years I’ve attempted to convince her to do the simplest thing. Go to church, just once. Just try the church in New England. I keep promising her that they are better than what she experienced in Utah, but I think she has had enough of the pain. The thing is though, that she has tried going to other religions in New England, such as a local Baptist church. She did not like it there so she only went once or twice. She was really hurt by what was said in Utah, and by the fact that Wayne’s ex-wife was also Mormon out in California.
This past week though, Jaime had a conversation with her that seemed to lead her closer to attempting coming to church. She needs it. Right now only her co-workers and Silvia’s dogs are her friends. She doesn’t really have any other relations outside her family. The conversation she had with Jaime was promising, but it seems this will take a while still. Any suggestions? How do I get my mom to be active again based on the story I’ve just told?