Long time lurker, coming out on this blog because I don't know where else to talk about this.
Last Friday, I called the Southern Baptist Church in which I grew up, to ask them to NOT hold a memorial service for my mother. I spoke to the senior pastor, and can I just how much I truly hate that condescending, pastoral tone?
I voiced my opinion because my father requested this memorial, and my siblings support this. Problem? My parents have been divorced for over 30 years. My father remarried, a widow in the church who also raised her children in that church. So my father has attended this church for forty years, and it's pretty well "his" church, the last 25 or so married to another lady from the church.
Before the divorce, my mother stopped attending. After the divorce, she felt very uncomfortable, judged, and unwelcome. It wasn't so much that people supported my father over her, it was a lot more about my mother had a weak, submissive personality and my father bulls right over people. He made sure she felt uncomfortable. The church in general doesn't do well with divorced people, dead people are so much easier. Topic for another day.
My sisters are going to take my mother's ashes into my father's home. This was the home my parents bought when we first moved to the community, when I was going into high school. My father kept the home in the divorce and his second wife moved into it, and now it is legally his/her home.
My father pushed for the four children to chose him over Mom. For the most part, my three siblings went along with it and for years and years would visit my father, stay in his home, drive his car, eat his food, etc. Next to nothing for Mom, not even when she had TIA's and then a stroke.
Now my father is acting like a grieving widower. My mother refused to acknowledge her imminent death, and the only request she made was to be cremated. Because she did not specify anything, they have taken as this carte blanche to do what they want. Not what my mom would have wanted, which was definitely not that church and absolutely most definitely not to spend a weekend in her ex-husband's house.
My mother lived with me, I was divorced single mom, for almost 20 years. She went to live with my sister in another state, across the country, five years ago because my sister signed her out of the nursing home. She lived in my sister's house for about six months, developed new health issues, and suffered a major stroke when meant she ended up in a nursing home far from home, with only the one sister around.
This is not about my mother coming home. She chose to stay away from that church for over 30 years. This is not about my father respecting or honoring the mother of his children. This is about my father, who abused my mother all their married life, pulling the upper hand to show my mom is still really all about him.
I can't express the rage I feel that they are yet again marginalizing my mother. That ex-husband has no place at her memorial. I can't even imagine how my father's wife must really feel about this. My father never had nice or kind word to say about my mother, and I don't know if the wife understands he doesn't have any good words for her either. My father is a misogynist, to the core. He is also rascist and abusive and other unpleasant things.
I refuse to attend. I don't want to make it about me and how I'm not there because my father is. I want my mother to be honored and respected, because she deserves that. She was a teacher for many years, she loved her children and grandchildren to the best of her ability, and I believe with all my heart that my mother really tried to be the best person she could. She was fragile, I now believe she was in major depression for many years, and my father was a jerk to her.
My siblings continually chase after my father for his approval. They don't like because I won't bend the knee and beg daddy to love me. I had actually developed a healthy distance between me and their toxicity, but my mother's death forced open the door to my siblings and it has been pure hell ever since.
So the reason I have developed this hate-on for the SBC minister is that I kept emphasizing they are divorced, it's inappropriate, my mother's toleration of necessary interaction with my father should not be construed as forgiving and forgetting how he abused her and mistreated her for the 20-something years of their marriage. I said my mother did not request it and would not have wanted it, that this was about doing it for my father and completely disregarding my mother.
That jerk kept giving me this song and dance about how they would open their doors for anyone who asked for a funeral or memorial, like it's so holy they wouldn't turn anyone away. Guess what? If this was a gay man, you better believe they would not agree to it. But because this is a white man who has attended church there for years, it doesn't matter how, the oldest daughter, feels about it. You know, the wimmenz who are not good at submission should be talked to like a small, stupid child.
I pointed out that the deceased had not requested it, and in fact had demonstrated by living out her last 30 years by never attending that church again, had made it clear she did not want anything to do with the church. But, you know, she's dead, and the only person who matters is the male, so his wishes prevail.
It is nothing more than a way for my father to assert, yet again, that he's the person who matters, and that mother doesn't count for jack squat. This is why abusive men love conservative churches, because the very nature of it is to NOT VALUE the female.
My sisters want to have the memorial on a Sat and inter the ashes on the following Monday - and to keep Mom's ashes at his house. I feel disgusted, sick, appalled, enraged. All the work I've done to balance myself and find a life outside their bullshit is gone. The only way I can find my way back to center to completely shut myself off from the process. I've apologized to Mom over and over. I have confronted everyone I can think of to stand up for Mom and have been shouted down at every turn. People are not too fond of those who grow up churched and then chose to leave it and refuse to play the church culture games. My Mom should not be in that church or in my father's house.
I feel defeated and depressed. How can my siblings be so thick? How can they dishonor and disrespect her like this? I cannot explore it or try to understand. I have to step away from it.
If you read this, thank you.