God has a wicked sense of humor…

My relationship with God has always been tricky, but I have never doubted His presence. I grew up in a Catholic family; my grandmother said the Rosary all day, it was always either in her hand or in the pocket of her duster. My aunt (mom’s sister), had a shrine to “the Blessed Mother” in the foyer as you entered the house. My mom was a church goer and forced my sister and I to go with her on Sundays but my dad rarely joined. My sister and I learned that religion and spirituality were potentially choices.

At various points in my life, I have turned toward and then away from the Catholic Church until I chose to stay away permanently. God and I, though, we’re good.

I don’t believe that God is only in churches; I believe that God is everywhere I am. When I was a kid, we weren’t allowed to put shoes on the table, even new shoes in boxes. My aunt always yelled, “God is on the table!” I honestly thought that was one of the funniest things I had ever heard, but I always complied. I still think it in my head whenever I bring home a bag from the store that might have shoes in it! I also think — why on the table? and why just shoes?

My relationship with God has continued to progress, we talk a lot; although, He would like for us to talk more, but that’s another story. I have questions, He has answers, but sometimes he thinks its funny to hide those answers in riddles.

The first time I realized that God was a comedian was in college. My roommate and I were playing shaving cream tag with some of the guys on the first floor. Shaving cream. Slippery floor. Enough said. I took her to the hospital, turned out she had a torn ACL. Ouch. When we got to the ER, the very nice, patient man who didn’t deserve to have to deal with idiots like us who had no clue about insurance, the check-in process, or even how life in general worked. This sweet man, who was probably a volunteer, had patches of white skin all over his normally chocolate skin. It was on his face as he smiled sweetly at us while trying to help us answer his questions and it was all over his hands as he passed the mountain of paperwork to us. I leaned into Jen as I whispered, “God, if I had that, I would never leave my house.” Ha, ha, ha, ha — joke was on me. Within 6 months, I had that.

This next one is really delicious; He invested some major time in this one. It started about 30 years ago when I was visiting with a college girlfriend at her family home. Her parents were lovely and kind and gracious. Her dad was a hardworking, former military, small town guy that now worked long hours at the local factory. When he would come home from work, he would strip off his work shirt to his white wife beater, grab a beer and settle deep into his EZboy. His sweet wife would deliver his dinner on a tv tray with an endless supply of his numbing liquid of choice. One night, as he was in the recline position, I noticed that her dad had what looked like a small hand struggling to escape his belly. I was freaked the eff out. When I got home, I told my mom all about how disgusting it was and wondered why on earth he didn’t have that fixed?? I also commented, “God, I would never be able to be with anyone who had that, its so gross!” And I shuddered for extra effect. In 2017, I had two hernias related to a surgery earlier in the year. One was so large, you could see it through my clothing. Well-played, God.

The most recent example, I’m still laughing about this one…the most recent one came just a couple of months ago. I have been unhappy in my job for two years, yada yada, all the reasons, bad boss, etc., etc. I did nothing about it; I collected my check every two weeks. And I was miserable. I was paralyzed. I was stuck in this loop where I kept on telling myself I deserved more…but the pay is good…I hate this job…but I need the benefits…I am so unhappy…but its a job…you get the picture. I think God got tired of hearing my incessant inner chatter, so He took the stage and pushed me off. The laughter continues.

Its Complicated

I was always a daddy’s girl. Growing up I idolized my dad. I was sure that he knew how to do everything, was the strongest man in the world and could absolutely do know wrong. I was devastated when I learned he was human.

My father was my first true love. He worked all the time so when I got to spend time with him, it was magical and I loved every minute of it. The first time I saw him dive off our high deck into our 4ft deep pool, I thought he was a superhero. He was the one who tossed me in the pool, over my moms objections, and let me figure out on my own how not to die. I sputtered to the surface, listening to my mom holler at my dad while my dad held her back from coming to my aid. Once I realized I was breathing and floating, I remember laughing with my dad at my silly mommy for being afraid. We were in cahoots, dad and I.

Every Christmas Eve, my dad would take my sister and I shopping for gifts for mom. He would literally buy everything on her list and so many things that weren’t on her list; he also gave each of us a crisp $100 bill so that we could buy stuff, too. When we were old enough, my sister and I were charged with wrapping all of moms bounty. I cherished this ritual and was so proud to be part of it. I had no idea we were swimming in debt, I was the richest little girl in the world.

In my teens, I rebelled, always against my mom. She was too strict, she worried too much, she had too many rules – and my dad always talked me into submission. He would tell me how I only had one mother and she meant well, but most importantly, that family was everything and I needed to respect my mother.

My father, the workaholic, was also a dreamer. He would often pursue “the next big thing” spending money we didn’t have on get rich schemes. He bought into a precious gem factory, a water purifier, a vending machine business…all without my mothers permission…I can’t even imagine how angry/sad/scared my mother was each time.

He was frequently stressed as the bills piled up and he would take it out on my mom. He would yell at her for reckless spending and mishandling of the checking account when she was buying things for the house or for us. Never mind what he was doing. My mom always put us first and would go out of her way to ensure we never went without; even if it meant suffering the wrath of my father.

My sister and I were always respectful to my dad…my mom got the short end of the stick from everyone. Our frustration, raging hormones, teen angst – it was all reserved for mom. My father worked hard all day, mom “protected” him from us.

I always wanted a man like my dad, a relationship like my parents…until I didn’t. Viewing my father from the perspective of the woman he encouraged me to grow into, changed everything. Unknowingly, my father raised me to be fiercely independent and to know, with absolutely certainty, how I deserved to be treated. This extended to ALL women…including my mother. Within this lens, my dad did not fare well.

At some point, the romanticized vision of childhood evolved into the wizened view of a woman who dated her fair share of toads. My father was merely a mortal.