Friday, March 28, 2008


Not having seen my grandmother in nearly a year, I had no choice but to go to her house for Easter. It's a 6-hour drive and I was the only one from my immediate family going. Fortunately, I hitched a ride with my uncle. Unfortunately, I hitched with my uncle. My uncle and his wife talk without listening, so it was a very long ride there and back.

One of the things I was most dreading about the weekend was going to church. I think I've mentioned before that my family is Catholic, although in varying degrees of devoutness. The further I feel from the church, the closer my sister gets, keeping it all in balance I suppose. Most of my family is tolerant of my lack of faith, but I wasn't sure how my grandmother would handle it. She's old school, of course, and has probably never questioned the church.

We (at my uncle's intention) arrived early enough for afternoon Good Friday mass, which has a reenactment of the Passion, followed by Veneration of the Cross (wiki-it, I'm too lazy to link it right now), and then Communion. After a bizarre Passion reenacted by an Indian priest (dots, not feathers), everyone gathered for Veneration. I chose to stay in the pew, rather than kiss the statue and, although my uncle shot me a disapproving look, my grandmother seemed ok with it. Same thing with Communion; I sat behind and it seemed to be ok. Nobody said anything.

Easter Sunday mass was the next test. My cousins arrived from out of town for this, along with their parents who are now divorced. It was kind of strange at first, sitting with my aunt's ex-husband, but I've always gotten along with the guy and the divorce was amicable. As with Friday, I sat out Communion and got away with it. What really got me thinking happened earlier in that Sunday mass. For those of you not familiar with Catholic mass, at one point the congregation is instructed to greet each other. Everyone in my family greeted my aunt's ex-husband as we always did, as part of the family. Afterwards, when we sat down, my grandmother (sitting next to me) leaned over and whispered,
     "I always liked him. He may not have been good to my daughter, but he was always good to me."
I immediately responded with what popped into my head, although I hadn't been thinking about it previously:
     "I wonder if [my former mother-in-law] or [my ex-wife] would say the same thing about me."
     "You were always good to her, from what I could tell."

I spent the rest of the mass thinking about that, since I sure wasn't thinking about the possibility of some dude, 2000 years ago, rising from the dead. I wondered if my grandmother was just being my grandmother, blindly seeing no wrong. Or was she a wise old lady who knows how the grey areas between people in a relationship defy labels like 'right' and 'wrong.' Had I been good to my wife? I never cheated on her, never hit her, never belittled or insulted her. I never abused drugs or alcohol, I never gambled away my paychecks, and I never got bald, fat, and hairy. But those were all the bad things I never did. I sat there wondering if I had been good enough. The fourth anniversary of my divorce is 3 weeks from tomorrow, so it would seem not.