There’s a certain almost palpable demeanor in some people. Dad didn’t have much of a formal education, yet he carried a very quiet confidence. He knew much of the bible frontwards and backwards. Very well versed in the New Testament. Wasn’t very fond of those odd-duck-prophets from the Old Testament. So he didn’t spend a lot of time studying it. Many of his views were based on his deep faith that he was indeed a child of God, and heaven-bound when his life on earth was done. This can be amazing, inspiring, and kind of ethereal to be around. It just sort of exuded out of him. On the other hand, being in Dad’s little realm could be tough to take. Dad’s faith and beliefs were so strong, there was NO WAY he could be swayed that his way wasn’t the right and only way. He always believed that his sins were forgiven. This is what the bible teaches. To Dad, this meant even if he said or did something offensive, it didn’t matter because, ALL HIS SINS WERE ALL FORGIVEN.
|Dad in the late 1980’s…|
One night we were having our Methodist Church’s office manager (co-worker) over for supper. Her hubby was a Baptist minister and busy that night, so Jeanne spent the evening with John, Dad and me. Dad was asking her questions (grilling really) about theology differences between Baptist’s and the RCA, Reformed Church of America. The poor Methodist’s in attendance were not even included in this conversation. I guess the phrase here is “worked up.” Dad tended to get worked up when discussing religion. It was useless to argue with him because he was never wrong in his belief’s. Then there’s that no-swaying-him part. He flat out asked Jeanne if she honestly believed there would be Baptist’s in heaven cause he didn’t think so. Oh Dad! I was embarrassed and angry. “Um Dad, that’s wrong and rude of you to say and ask those questions. Where in the bible does it say, Believe on The Lord Jesus Christ, and be a member of the Reformed Church of America, and thou shalt be saved?” He was offended that I snapped at him about something he truly felt was ok to say. He stomped out of the house in a huff. I left him alone for a couple days, then went to his place. He thought maybe it had been a mistake to move here. I reminded him exactly what I did for him daily, but there needed to be boundaries on subjects, judgements and accusations when he was a guest in our house.
Looking back, I think much of this was due to dementia or lack of oxygen from blocked carotid arteries. He had actually mellowed somewhat in his religious fervor over the years. It started rearing it’s rather unattractive head when he had been here awhile, after his stroke. His tolerance level dipped to minus something. He got into an argument with an aide at the Village. He asked her what church she attended, then told her she was going to hell. I was called in the administrator’s office and asked to please speak to him about, well, bullying. He then noticed several people at other tables in the dining room did not bow their heads in prayer before they ate. He was very disturbed by this and felt he should speak to them. It was hard, no impossible for him to understand the concept that this was their home too. He felt it was his right, his job, and his duty to God to tell them exactly what he knew in his heart was wrong with their lives. He needed to instruct them how they must come to know Jesus right now! He was used to a small Iowa Dutch town. With this many nationalities, personalities, religious beliefs and different cultures (who knew there were factions of people in the world who were not Dutch, and some who did not attend church?) was almost unfathomable to him. He should be the guy to change what was wrong with their lives. You know, he had a lot more in common with those Old Testament prophets than I thought.
|Dad right before moving to Michigan 2005…|
After he settled at the Village, he joined the bible study group, but got into arguments right away. He felt they should stop studying the the Old Testament. He had a better study guide they should be using. He soon stopped going or was asked not to come. He was in a definite decline. He still maintained his church prayer breakfast group, nursing home bible study, the Rescue Mission and prison groups for now. He did not attend many social events at the Village though.
He did develop a couple of wonderful friendships with Mary and Red who sat at his table for meals. Yup, both of them prayed before they ate. Whew. Mary was a devout Catholic and Dad was humbled by her deep faith. Red and Dad hit it off right away. Red asked him to join him in an activity Dad had not tried in at least a half century. In one of the activity rooms was a beautiful pool table. They started playing pool together a couple times a week, sans beer. Dad used to be a shark…