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A Son Remembers His Father

By ooglyman --

Dad was a preacher. Not one that was trained at a seminary, but he was a school teacher who had been a missionary, taught Sunday school, and occasionally was invited by different churches to speak against Communism. Both of my parents were raised Mennonite, and after they were married became Baptists. Every few years we moved to another church. Dad was never content. He didn’t like the least hint of liberalism in any church we attended.

Finally, when I entered my teens, my parents discovered a church they liked. The denomination even had fundamentalist in its name. (Independent Fundamentalist Churches of America.) The head pastor had been a minor league baseball player who never made it to the big leagues, so he started a church instead. One time I heard him say from the pulpit that it was against the will of god for men to wear polyester suits. They were too comfortable. No one was supposed to be comfortable in church. I remember not being comfortable in his.

Shortly after the move to this IFCA church my father became more abusive to me. I was the youngest of four children, and Dad had always been a harsh disciplinarian, but usually he had been hardest on my brother. My brother was a teen during the sixties, and he had expressed an interest in wearing his hair long and listening to popular music. He was also into cars, motorcycles and girls. He got into a lot of trouble. I was six years younger, and though I admired my brother, as a teenager my behavior was very different. My hair length was shorter than what was trendy in the early seventies, I seldom listened to music, cars and motorcycles didn’t interest me, and I was not a girl magnet. I spent most of my time alone, either reading books or riding my bicycle on dirt trails near our neighborhood.

Dad still found it necessary to physically abuse me. My brother was gone now, and I figured it was my time to get my ass kicked by the old man. My father was a strong man, but he was also a cripple. (He never liked being called handicapped, so I won’t use that term to describe him now.) He’d been born breach and his hip broke. His left leg never fully developed. By the time I was sixteen or seventeen his back had deteriorated and he was forced to use aluminum crutches to walk. He also used the crutches to strike me in the back of my neck and skull. It hurt. One time my father became impatient with me and he struck me in the back of my skull so hard I momentarily blacked out. Upon recovering, which must have a been a second or two later, I grabbed his crutch and pulled him to the ground.

I yelled, “Don’t ever do that again.”

Several months later I was old enough to leave and I did. At this time I began to explore other belief systems, such as paganism, Buddhism and Islam. Dad was never quite the same, and he died when I was twenty-four.

Years later I asked my mother why Dad had never taught Sunday school at the IFCA church like he had done at every other church we had attended. She said it was because of me. It appears Pastor Couldn’t Make It To The Big Leagues didn’t like it that I had approached him several times with questions about the bible that he couldn’t answer. Certain things didn’t add up or make sense to my inquiring teenage mind. It incensed the pastor that my father didn’t have control over his own household, and the pastor wouldn’t allow him to teach.


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