For some reason WordPress won’t let me log in from my parents’ house so I’m writing this and emailing it to myself to post when I get home. This weekend has been interesting. It has thrown the differences between me and my family’s values into sharp relief. I’ve been reading a book called The Family Heart by Robb Forman Dew. It deals with her reaction to the news that her son is gay. I picked it up because we read a fiction book by her for the library
book club this month. They mentioned this book briefly there. So the theme of the differences between a family’s expectations for their kids and the reality of the kids has been on my mind.
Friday night we were watching the local news. I hate local news. I never watch it by choice. It is always so sensational and makes a big deal about the smallest things. The news here is particularly bad because any anchor or reporter with any talent will be picked up by a larger market soon leaving the dregs. The lead story Friday was the “tragic” death of two elderly people. The wife was terminally ill and the husband shot her and then himself. They kept talking about the “tragedy”. In my mind this is a personal decision. From the story it didn’t seem like the two people involved thought of this as a tragedy. They were prepared and they wrote a
note for their relatives explaining their decision. The only tragedy in my mind was that they felt forced to take a very violent action instead of being allowed to go peacefully. Anyone who knows me knows that I am very pro-euthanasia and right to die. I think that is no one’s business but the people’s involved so every else should butt out. I was talking back to the TV every time they said “tragedy” (and it was often). My parents didn’t say anything and I realized where I was soon so I shut up.
Then we went to dinner with some family friends. The topic of discussion became an article they had seen in a magazine at the doctor’s office – “Are You Too Old to Have an Orgy?” Seems that 6 people in a nursing home had decided to celebrate one’s birthday by having an orgy. This upset the staff to no end and they separated them. My family found this hysterical. My opinion was
that if I’m in my 80s and multiple men want to have sex with me I’m going to be proud of myself. The family friend was horrified by the article. He is an audiologist and gets this publication in his office. The first person to pick it up was a nun. He wrote a letter to the editors saying it was
inappropriate and that it shouldn’t have run on the front page. He asked if he was just a prude. I wanted to say yes but I was being polite. I said that they were consenting adults and it wasn’t like they were going to get pregnant so who cares?
Saturday we went to the clinic that I was helping to teach. They had a little food stand. My mother kept trying to get me to eat a hot dog. I laughed the first time she mentioned it because I thought she was trying to be funny. She got sort of offended. Then she kept offering me bites of her hot dog. I kept saying no and now looking at her funny too. Even before I became a real vegetarian I would never have chosen to eat a hot dog. Last night I told my brother about it as we were playing cards.
Me: J., your mother kept trying to force me to eat a hot dog today.
J: (with a look at my mother and a soothing, sympathetic voice like one would use at a funeral) Your child is a vegetarian.
Mom: I keep forgetting that.
Uh huh. Since the time I was old enough to voice my own opinions about food I haven’t liked meat. It isn’t like this was a spur of the moment decision. But anything my mother doesn’t totally approve of she considers a phase. If she is just patient enough I’ll get over it.
Which brings me to Sunday morning. I’ve been dreading this since I knew I was staying until Sunday afternoon. What to do about church? They know that I don’t go to church and they do not approve. They don’t know why I don’t go to church and I don’t feel like enlightening them. See the definition of a “phase” in the paragraph above.
So we are driving back from the clinic yesterday and she says conversationally, “Are you going to church with us tomorrow or would you rather make up a worksheet for my 4-H meeting?”
I was shocked. She threw me a lifeline. Obviously she doesn’t want to discuss this either. “I’ll make up a worksheet.” And so it was decided. Much less fuss made over my rejection of the values that they instilled in me since childhood than over my decision not to eat a hot dog. Ah, denial is a beautiful thing.
I am speechless.