Sunday, April 14, 2013

Religion: Revenge

My folks had an on again off again feud with our neighbors, both the ones next door and the ones across the street—these two households were related, parents on the side of us and daughter and son in law in the house directly across from ours.  When things were calm, I got along well with our neighbor lady on the side of us and the daughter of the family across the street (the sons, tho: freakin’ bullies.  And when they grew up they stayed that way).  The feud was really awful and made my parents’ lives very difficult for a number of years.   One of the things that got under my Dad’s skin was that both sets of neighbors were very vociferous about their Christianity, especially when they were being particularly nasty.  Not many people knew that my Dad had attended a Lutheran seminary in hopes of being a minister.  While he had to leave before completing his studies, he knew the Bible and he knew Christianity.  So he knew religious hypocrisy when he saw it.

My Dad’s folks are buried in a memorial park style cemetery, the type of cemetery where the markers are all flush with the ground.  From your car (and you need a car to get there) you may as well be on a slightly shabby golfcourse.  When you get out and look at the ground, however, you see who’s buried where.  One day, while visiting his folks’ graves, he noticed a new marker had been put in nearby.  He went over to see who his future neighbors would be and—Behold!—the couple from next door!  Who were still very much alive.  I’ve worked in cemeteries—the way you say it is that they had their marker placed “pre-need.”

My Dad absolutely loved that.  He measured out the number of steps from his future grave to theirs (seventeen!).  And he never, ever pointed out to them that they would be Forever And Ever Neighbors.  One of my favorite Dad moments happened when I was sitting with him on our front porch swing and he was in full-on gloat-mode.  He explained the situation to me again, taking it to the necessary conclusion: “And the best part about it, you know what the best part is?  They say when the Good Lord comes on that Final Day, He’ll come from the East—they’re gonna be staring at my ass!”
Have I mentioned yet how much I love that man?

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