It's been a little over a year now since Mom's death and I've been thinking about her so much. Our relationship was weird. On one hand we loved each other very much and we meant so much to each other. On the other hand, there was so much freaking contention between us that I hated so much. Among many other things I could mention, she was always upset that I am an atheist and that my kids are atheists too.
She brought it up quite often and I would often say something along the lines of Mom, we don't agree about this and I simply don't want to hurt you anymore. Can we not discuss it? But we would discuss it.
Although Mom didn't follow an actual religion or go to a church of any kind, she carried on the beliefs of her mom, my beloved grandma, often saying to me Kay, what would your grandmother say if she would hear you talking like that? To which I would simply reply, I don't know, but I do know that Grandma loved me, so I'll stick with that. I know I wasn't the only atheist in the family on Mom's side, but still, she was very uncomfortable with me being one.
Mostly because she truly didn't know what it meant to be an atheist, no matter how clearly and simply I explained it. No matter how I sat as a model for an atheist. I would explain to her that she knows me and that THAT is what an atheist looks like. But her fears could not be allayed. She had such learned fears of what atheists are, what atheists do, what atheists believe... It was quite sad because she continued to believe the things she had been taught rather than to what she could see before her very eyes, myself and my family. If you know me at all, you know that this continual conflict was extremely outside of my comfort zone, completely unlike anything I would like.
Unwillingly I would get into conversations with her about our differing beliefs. She often told me that she wasn't the slightest bit interested in science, saying I don't want to know! Whatever evidence you bring, I will never stop believing. I sincerely respected that and never ever sought to change her mind. I don't mean this in a mean way, but about these religious beliefs of hers, Mom was so weirdly juvenile. She simply accepted what she'd been taught as a very young girl and would not consider anything else.
And that's OK. I didn't need her to be an atheist. In her last week of life, she was able to make some jokes about our differences in belief, especially when my Aunt Mary sent a minister to Mom's house on her behalf. Mom laughed because she thought the minister would have been shocked to know that I was an atheist in the room. She was also entertained when the Hospice minister cornered me outside in order to give me comfort. She told me later that she would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation.
The point is, Mom was fine in her simple, yet boxed-in way of looking at the world and at life. She fell into her belief system as a child, as most people do, and she was content to simply be there. Which is fine! My only thing was that her fears about my atheism and that of my kids brought her discontent, distress, and consternation and those things come directly from the religion itself. If religions could CHILL and be Live and Let Live, I probably wouldn't have as much problem with it as I do.
But they don't do that.
AW GEEEEEZ, you know what, I realize at this very moment that I've written a blog post about this exact thing again and again in an effort to figure out what bothers me so much about this. It's that the religion that she held onto brought Mom such pain, rather than comfort...and that's another reason why I know the world would be a better place without religion.
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