I May Or May Not Be An Infidel, But You Are A TattletalePosted: October 24, 2011
One of the things that I have learned from watching my folks is that parents are always proud parents. That pride doesn’t go away with the diapers, or when their child heads off to make their way in the world. No matter what you and I do, our parents see their little boys and girls doing it.
If my parents are in a position to introduce themselves to someone I might work with, they always do. I get a kick out of hearing “I talked to your Mom yesterday” or “I saw your Dad”. Most all the people who’ve had “my son Oma” encounters have been kind enough to tell my parents the good stories they have about me.
This is the tale of someone who didn’t so much tell one of my parents a story about me. She was actually closer to just telling on me.
The other day, my Mom called me to relate the story of my Dad crossing paths with a woman I used to supervise.
Dad has recently been attending meetings for a volunteer program at one of my agency’s offices. He arrived early and found the door locked. That is when my former co-worker walked up. My Dad introduced himself as a volunteer. They talked a bit and then my father asked if she knew me. She told him that she did, and that we’d worked together in a different section about ten years ago.
They chatted about different things about work, life and her kids. Then the conversation came back to my father’s kid. She lobbed out a question, seemingly out of the blue:
“Oma, he’s not that religious, is he?”
You Can’t Tell On Me!
What in the world would possess a person to ask my father something like that? I don’t remember that becoming a polite question to ask someone a person knows well, to say nothing of someone they’ve known for ten minutes.
Was she telling on me? I will be fifty years old next week. While my parents are still the boss of me, I am no longer eligible to be tattled on.
What is the man supposed to say? Perhaps he should’ve said “yeah, I kind of screwed up with the first son and made him an infidel”. Maybe the right thing for him to have said is “yeah, he’s pretty much going to hell”.
The funny thing is, I have never had a conversation on religious issues with this woman, ever. In the past ten years we might have been in the same room once. She has as many reasons to believe I am religious as she does to believe that I am not. I have a lot of respect for people’s faith choices. The only time I take issue with another person’s religious practice is when they do not respect the beliefs of other people.
E Pluribus Unum
I’ve got a lot of reasons to admire my father. One of them is that he is always behind his sons, even the infidel one. Though his answer to the question wasn’t exactly true to the way he raised me, it is completely true to the person he is and taught me to be.
According to my mother, his answer to the “not very religious” question was typical. His response wasn’t to launch into a complex defense of what he really didn’t need to defend. He chose instead to stand by me, whatever it is that I am:
“Yeah, I guess he takes after me”.
My feet would never fit those shoes.