NeverMo in CA
Date: July 17, 2017 12:48PM
No, the subject line is not a joke! However, this is a long post, so if you're only interested in the cleaning part, feel free to skip to the end. :-)
Over the July 4 holiday, I posted here that one of my younger cousins, who had converted to Mormonism a few years ago in her early 20s, had just gotten married in the Oakland, CA temple. I have a large extended family, and also due in part to geographical distance, I tend to see this cousin and her siblings at most once a year at events such as large family weddings or funerals.
I would not even have expected an invitation to this cousin's wedding, but I was somewhat surprised to go on Facebook over the holiday weekend and see she had gotten married, simply because normally I would at least have **heard** of her engagement and wedding well in advance. My mom would have mentioned to me, "Oh, I heard from so-and-so that 'Julia' is getting married this summer. Isn't that nice?," etc.
Anyway, I posted on RfM that I felt sad for her parents and siblings, who are incredibly nice people, because I could only imagine how hurt they must have been not to see her wedding. I also noted that of my large extended family, many of whom are super-active on FB and post comments on things daily, they had only "liked" her wedding photo--not even one had posted a comment, not even "Congratulations!" I felt this seemed to indicate widespread hurt feelings.
Well, on Saturday, I happened to be at a big family party--a 50th anniversary celebration--at which this cousin's dad and one of her aunts (to whom I am pretty close) were also in attendance. I didn't feel I could very well avoid any mention of my cousin's daughter's wedding which had taken place less than two weeks ago without being rude, although I did not want to hurt him, either. I just hugged him hello, said, "Hey, I saw 'Julia' got married--congratulations," and left it at that.
The pain on his face was obvious, and the poor guy immediately launched into saying something like "Well, I guess it's our fault--[my wife] and I clearly didn't give her what she needed growing up, I guess. At least that's what she tells us. I raised her with no religion because I thought she had the right as an adult to decide what belief system was right for her...I just didn't think she'd choose this one." I tried to console him, saying I have known plenty of families who raise all of their kids more-or-less the same, with the same values and beliefs, yet two will grow up to live basically happy, normal lives and one kid will become a heroin addict. In other words, I said, you aren't always responsible for your adult child's choices and actions. He still said he blamed himself at least partly, and he added that he had been reading more about Mormonism online and was hoping maybe one day she would see the light, etc.
Later on at the party, I spoke in more detail about the wedding with another cousin of mine who is the aunt of "Julia," the young woman who was just married. She had tears in her eyes the entire time we spoke about this, for at least a good 20 minutes. She has always been VERY close to Julia and her siblings, and in fact Julia lived with her and her husband a couple of summers ago while she taught at a summer school for children in their town. Some of the interesting (disturbing) things this cousin shared with me:
After "Julia" was baptized Mormon two or three years ago, her new church friends told her she could no longer live with her own sister because the sister's fiance also lived with them. Yes, apparently she could not be seen to be condoning their "living in sin" (even though the sister and the boyfriend were engaged to be married).
Then, once Julia became engaged to her RM, she was told she could no longer live with **her parents**! She had to move in with LDS church members. Why? Her dad is an atheist (supposedly).
Now, as offensive and ludicrous as that is on its face, what I find odd about it is that Julia's dad has posted things online before which don't exactly indicate atheism, such as "praying" for the recovery of his son from a bad accident a couple of years ago. He and his wife even went on a pilgrimage to a famous Catholic shrine in Europe last year, and my impression from his comments about that is that it was at least in part a religious trip, not undertaken simply for historical or tourist reasons. However, I guess because he identified as an atheist when his daughter was growing up, once an atheist, always an atheist...forget the fact that the mom has always been a Christian, to my knowledge. I guess that doesn't make up for the evil (yes, I'm being sarcastic) atheist influence of the dad.
Has anyone heard of something like this before? This is not Utah, by the way--we are talking people born and raised in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, including the Mormons involved.
My cousin (Julia's aunt) told me that she tried on one occasion to reason with her niece, saying that the above things would indicate that in fact Julia's dad is no longer an atheist. Also, even if he was/is, "I kept telling her how much her parents loved her, how she had had such a happy childhood, etc."
She said Julia's repeated response to these comments was to simply say "He's an atheist. My dad is an atheist." She said Julia was saying this "almost robotically."
Seriously, I have a TBM friend who is **married** to a neverMo atheist...since when is being an atheist such a big deal to Mormons that a woman can't even go on living with her own parents until her wedding day?
The details get worse...my cousin (Julia's aunt) then told me that she and a few dozen other neverMo relatives all showed up for the wedding, even though they knew they couldn't really attend and would have to wait outside. She said that after the wedding, when Julia and her groom walked out into a hallway where all the neverMos were waiting for them, that Julia had tears running down her face and said to them, "You guys came? I didn't think you'd be here." Her aunt replied, "Well, of course we're here--we love you!" and said she was crying too. Knowing how close they are, I am frankly surprised Julia would have thought for even a moment that any of those relatives **wouldn't** have come. It makes me wonder if her LDS friends and new relatives had told her that they probably wouldn't.
My cousin added that at the reception, as soon as **any** of the neverMo relatives went on the dance floor, every single LDS guest would leave the floor, even in the middle of a song. Wow--how welcoming. I should add that my relatives who were in attendance are mostly older (over 40) or little children, and no one is the type to do "dirty dancing"-type moves, etc. I should know since I've been at a few dozen weddings with them over the years. Apparently, their very presence on the dance floor was enough to make the LDS guests uncomfortable.
Here's the piece de resistance, though: After the reception had ended (yes, all the neverMos stayed for the entire thing), some LDS folks ran outside as my relatives were leaving and said "Hey, we need some help cleaning up." I swear. I. Am. Not. Kidding.
I said to my cousin, "PLEASE tell me you guys did not go inside to help clean up."
She said, "No--are you joking? We just sent my grandkids in to help."
I replied, "Sorry, but I really wish you hadn't even done that," to which she said, "I know, but they are all ten and under and still had energy they needed to burn off." Fortunately, she said none of the neverMo adults were crazy or masochistic enough to help clean up.
Wow. I have a feeling "Julia's" dad and aunt may visiting RfM a lot in the future.