My dad's 83. He married my mom in the 1957. About 6 or 7 years into their marriage my mom converted to JW's. My dad was a severe alcoholic at the time, and apparently did some terrible things I wasn't a party to and still don't know about, because I wasn't born yet and I have never asked.
By the time I showed up he'd gotten sober, and he's stayed that way ever since. I have never seen him drink an alcoholic beverage.
One reason my mom joined JW's was to give herself some kind of hope after what she'd deemed an unhappy life, possibly because of what my dad did. I don't know. We've never gone there.
I was raised in a split household: My mom and sisters were JW's, my dad was not. I was raised in the religion. After 15 years of total immersion in the JW's, I declared I no longer wanted to be one. This was on or around my 15th birthday.
My mom wasn't having it, but my dad understood where I was coming from. But he wanted me to keep attending meetings for awhile, because my mom was insistent that I keep going because "it's the only truth he's known."
My dad acquiesced, but at the same time he kept assuring me that if I wasn't at all interested, and if I kept displaying that disinterest, my mom would get it and I wouldn't have to go to meetings anymore.
Nine months after I first announced I wanted to quit, my dad told my mom that it was time to stop pushing me. My mom replied that she hadn't been pushing me *enough*. He disagreed. Finally, mom told me that dad had said it was time for me to choose my own path. She then, with greatest reluctance, informed me that I no longer had to go to meetings.
I quit because I did not buy the JWs' views that all worldly people were either deluded or bad, and that everyone except JW's were under the influence of Satan. I knew some absolutely beautiful people who were in the world, and the biggest asshole I'd ever encountered in my life was a JW in good standing (who is no longer a JW because he was a prick nobody, even JWs, could tolerate).
I didn't care about doctrine. In ensuing years I found that the JW doctrine was all theory and luck with no basis in reality, but I didn't care. I just didn't buy their party line that all non-JW people were under the influence of Satan.
Once I left home my relationship with my parents got better. Distance may have contributed to that. But my mom and dad were always supportive of me.
We still had occasional clashes about the verity of mom's religion. But not in the last 30 years. They knew I thought it was all a sham, mom wouldn't push me, and that was it.
My dad always liked my mom's JW friends. He said they were all extremely nice, very good, quite happy people, and as long as it made my mom happy he'd support her, even though he thought their beliefs were "screwy." He said this to me at some point after I'd been out of the house for a while.
My older sister quit the JW's a little bit after I did. She went on to have a clandestine and, apparently, very troubled life, even though she was extremely intelligent, but somewhat anti-social. She wrote a letter to my parents once that was, apparently, extremely angry at them for forcing her to be a JW. She called my dad "weak" for allowing mom to force the JW theology in our heads, when she knew it was bad for us.
I never saw the letter, but when my parents told me what it contained, I could definitely see her writing it. I thought it was a terrible idea, whether she was a JW or not. It was harmful and unnecessarily mean. I felt that way despite the fact that I probably agreed with many of my sister's points, and I expressed that opinion to my JW family -- including that I was likely to agree with her points, just not in a way that was so brazenly confrontational. cheap long sleeve wedding dresses
My parents wrote her out of their will.
A few years later my sister died. My parents and my other sister called me up to tell me the news. My dad was distraught, more than I'd ever heard him. Kids were supposed to outlive their parents, he said, and my sister's death was awful to him. It was horrifying to hear one's own father in such a state of sorrow.
In the weeks leading up to her death my sister expressed a desire to reconcile. I'm not sure whether it really happened. But my family was devastated when she died, so I'm inclined to say the effort had at least started.
Things went back to normal, though. My parents have both had health issues over the last decade (once, about ten years ago, my mom wrote to me that they were both "waiting to die"). Earlier this year my dad got kidney cancer. He now walks around with an oxygen tank. But both my parents have survived their health issues and seem to be in a healthy state at the moment.
They know I absolutely will not be a JW ever again. I don't know if they know how much I've learned about the organization over the last 20 years or so. I don't know if they know about the shifting beliefs or the pedophilia problem. We've never discussed it.
Why am I telling you this?
Because a few months ago my surviving sister started posting pictures of my dad on Instagram. The first was a picture of him attending a Watchtower study at the Kingdom Hall. He raised his hand and made a comment.
I considered it trivial. He's placating my mom, I thought.
Last weekend my sister posted another picture. It was a shot of my dad going out in field service for the first time.
"They just announced at the Kingdom Hall that my dad was an unbaptized publisher for the first time. So proud of him!!" she wrote.
I'd like to say this didn't disappoint me but I would be wrong.
This is the guy who shepherded me out of JW's in the first place. He told me as recently as 20 years ago that JW beliefs were "screwy."
But he felt he owed my mom a huge debt for how he treated her. For a long time that meant being friendly and convivial to her friends, all of whom were JW's. He thought they were all the nicest people he'd ever met, so he was okay with it.
I never thought he'd convert.
Now he's obviously on track to do so.
Why? My sister's death? His own health issues, and my mom's? Does he view the last few years of his life as so short that he's got nothing to lose by going to the Kingdom Hall and making my mom feel happy?
Has he rationalized the whole "screwy" belief structure somehow? Does he really believe this shit now? What changed his mind after 80+ years that maybe my mom was right after all?
And am I -- with all I've learned about the JW's in the last 35 years, how abominably they treat people, how flat-out wrong they are -- now, after 50 years of being his son, a bad seed that he's going to avoid, because he just got a whole new set of beliefs from an organization that tells its members to hate the world?
Why the fuck is he doing this?
I'm not angry. I'm not hostile. I'll tell them anything they want to know. I haven't changed my mind about JW's one iota and I'll be fine with telling them why.
But I am disappointed. This feels like a concession to my mom. And what am I gonna tell him? Do I actually try and talk him out of it?
Or does he already believe that the pedophilia accusations are all apostate-driven lies? Does he really believe the world's going to end and only JW's will survive? Does he now consider me "fallen away," when I am exactly as he was at age 50? What is he going to try and do? And does my mom now feel emboldened enough to try and get me to come back to the fold?
Does he now believe in the absolutely crapola ghost stories that I was told? Is every non-JW thing now "demonized"? Is the Governing Body the "faithful and discreet slave"? He's now decided this is true after rebelling against it for 50 years?
Why is this happening? Does he really believe it?
Or is he just grasping for some immediately needed after-life assurance?
Or does he consider this to be the final repayment to my mom?
And how do I tell him this is all a long-term, well-executed, absolutely heartless con by a bunch of a-holes in Brooklyn, now Walkill?
What the fuck is happening?
Thank you for reading.