Sunday, January 16, 2011

I loathe to see the temple

I wrote another little ditty.  It goes something like this:

I can't help but see a temple
As I'm driving on my way.
They're all o'er the freaking valley
As if they want to say,
"Your children will be married here
But you can't come in with them.
They may be your kids outside these doors
In here...

Aw shit.  I cannot think of the last line. This stupid song brought back some old memories.  I don't feel this is really my story to tell but I"m going to tell it anyway.

My dad was a busy man, working six days a week running a business and all day Sunday doing the Lard's work.  But he managed to begat a bunch of kids.  Six of us in a cluster and then one "menopause baby" tacked on like an afterthought at the end.  He raised us righteously and all five of us older girls were married in one temple or another, proud father (or maybe just bone-weary) standing by and paying for the whole thing.  My brother was married in the woods, my dad doing the officiating (him being a bishop and all ) with our huge TBM extended family looking on.  It must have scared the shit out of the poor tattooed and bra-less bride because the marriage didn't even last a few months. 

That just left the tag-a-long to get married off.  Finally she found a guy and planned the wedding, down to the temple she was going to be married in.  Then just weeks before the date (cue scary organ music) my dad called with the news of his excommunication.  WTF.  This news shook the family and community like an earthquake.  My father had literally devoted his life to the church.  In his seven years as bishop he created a strong youth program with traditions which went on for years--while his own children grew up without him.  Years as a high councilor, driving two hours to meetings after working a 12 hour day.  He served valiantly in a Stake Presidency while the youngest was in high school. Everyone looked up to him as a truly righteous pillar of the church.  And now, just before his youngest daughter's wedding, the rug was literally yanked out from under him. 

Even his children didn't know the reason for the ex-ing.  He told us it wasn't a moral issue or a sexual one.  Good enough.  I didn't care then and I don't care now.  But the fact remained that he had no temple recommend and so could not attend the wedding of his youngest daughter.  He spent that time outside on the grounds with the grandkids, while inside the temple all the rest of the family was gathered.  All the myriad brothers-in-law who didn't mean shit to the bride, they got to be there.  But not dad.  She was the one he got to spend the most time with.  She was the one who was able to have daddy read to her at night, falling asleep long before the book was finished because he was so exhausted.  She was the only child who was able to spend time with him and have an actual relationship with him.  But hers was the only wedding to be denied him.  I can only imagine how that stung but he never said a thing. 

Several years later he was rebaptized, as soon as the powers-that-be said that he could.  Then life went on as normal, dad serving in one church calling after another up until the very day he died while putting his socks on to go to work at the temple.  Valiant as always.


  1. This hit a nerve. My kid, a big piece of my heart, was married with all her distant TBM relatives looking on, but not her own mother. There was the uncle secretly addicted to porn, another relative secretly addicted to chew while occasionally cheating on his wife and imbibing in alcohol, the unmarried aunt who was secretly boinking her BF. But it's all about appearances, you know, and since I was the only one who was honest I was the only one who was excluded. When I showed up for pics after the ceremony they all looked at me with discomfort and disapproval yet could not look me in the eye.

    If ever there was evidence that LDS Inc. is a f***ing cult, the fact that loving parents are denied access to their children's weddings is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It's truly sickening. Your Dad sounds like a wonderful guy, JZ. Glad you shared his story.

  2. CD, unless something drastic happens, I will be in your shoes with my three TBM kids. I can't picture myself lying so I will be sitting on the outside. I didn't have this perspective when my dad was going through all this, but now, with the constant reminder of the temple spires, it's on my mind a lot and it hurts.

    And, of course, since gay marriage will never be legal in Utah, going to my son's wedding will probably never happen either. There is a very good chance I will never see any of my children get married.

  3. That truly sucks, JZ. I dealt with it all by looking at it more philosophically: the Mormon marriage ceremony is nothing but a fake show of religious authority with something of a freak show thrown in. And the last thing I wanted was to witness my daughter solemnly covenant to the New and Everlasting Covenant of Polygamy (which is what it really is; the sheeple just don't get that). I also knew that my absence would hurt my daughter far more than it would it would hurt me -- and that hurt would ultimately facilitate her exit from the cult (which it did!).

    She confided in me how weird and sad it was for her to not have me there, and it created lots and lots of cognitive dissonance. My family's inappropriateness added to the CD and weirdness of the day. For me, the real marriage ceremony occurred during the reception because it had my daughter written all over it -- from the food to the flowers to the dancing -- and as soon as the subzero temps exited with my mother's long-awaited departure, it was a lovely party.

    If you find yourself alone and excluded on any of your children's wedding days, you let me know and I'll sneak you out for some coffee and normal conversation, not to mention a flask of smooth vodka passed subtly in your direction (after a few beers I not only looked better but could almost ignore my TBM family's stern disapproval). Mike and I retreated occasionally to our hotel room that was well-stocked.

  4. CD, I like your philosophical outlook on it. I will have to change my thinking in that way and maybe it won't hurt so much.

    Watch out, I may take you up on that coffee and vodka offer. No wedding plans in the works at the moment, but it's inevitable, like a winter inversion.

  5. Hey, I am serious. I never make an offer I don't intend to be accepted (except for that one time when I agreed God could disembowel me if I told anyone my super secret name was Eliza but I learnt my lesson). I'm totally down for coffee, vodka, coffee and vodka, shoulder crying and male strippers. Hot Scots in kilts if we can find them.

    I would have come unglued without Mike holding me up. Oh, and beer.