I wasn’t looking forward to seeing his parents today. I hadn’t spent much one on one time with them yet, and the way Tom always went on about them, I really didn’t want to. It seemed Tom had nothing nice to say about them, and my impression was that they were the intolerant types, and a bit self-righteous too. Tom always said he was raised “well” though in the scheme of things. Pushed and supported to be a success, which he was, and wanting for nothing, except maybe a bit of emotion or warm-heartedness. They’d always been so strict with him, and all business.
Well at least he knew right from wrong.
They’d always been different. Being the only Mormons in a town full of Baptists and heathens could do that. Tom had grown up in the church, and as a youth didn’t have much interaction with anyone else. He associated mainly with just the few other Mormon families in town. He’d seen them every morning at 6am for years, when he was pulled out of his bed to attend the daily religious school, which was before regular school, where he pretty much kept to himself. He was told that those others would pollute his mind and heart with all sorts of immoralities.
He still mostly believed this was true.
Tom escaped the confines of his religion as an adult somewhat, although he still attended church from time to time, and certainly had those particular beliefs still deeply ingrained in him. It’s all he’d ever known. Overall he learned to bend though, in order to just get through. Since we’d been together we’d knocked heads on things more than a few times, and although I tried to be as gentle as I could, I made sure in no uncertain terms that he knew where I stood on this. A philosophical divide, but we agreed to disagree. Tom was a bit jumpy and nervous about his parents coming, walking around in circles and agonizing over the “what ifs”. I hoped that a simple and quick little lunch wouldn’t be too painful.
Tom heard them pull up in the driveway and went over to open the front door. They got out of the car, with his mother looking up and down the street at the neighborhood and examining their yard and house, while Dad was at the trunk unloading some packages. When his Mom saw Tom she walked up to him and gave him a kiss on the cheek and a tight hug. “Let me look at you,” she said, stepping back and giving him the once over. “Are you getting enough to eat, is she feeding you good?” She had a concerned expression on her face and was shaking her head. “You’re looking thin to me Tom are you okay?”
“Yes Mom, I’m eating fine, of course. I’m okay. Louise is the best cook. I’m not too thin believe me.”
By the time they walked in the front door I already had everything on the table, and stood in the dining room to greet them. “Hello Mr and Mrs Dudley. WELCOME. I walked over to take their coats, and Tom’s mom walked right past me, apparently anxious to take in the scene. She peeked her head in the kitchen, then looked around and up the steps. “It’s a nice place Tom.” She looked past me, seemingly more interested in taking inventory of her son’s life.
Tom said “Mom, why don’t you just sit down right here,” pulling out a chair. His dad was already sitting down, talking about how good the food smelled and how hungry he was, and how his blood sugar must be low after the long trip, and how they had to deal with all that traffic, and all those things people talk about nowadays it seems. I filled up the plates with stew, and we finally got settled for lunch. Mrs. Dudley fixed her gaze on me.
“So dear, what have you been doing since my Tommy moved here to your Fairview? Have you talked about attending the council here? You should be raising your children in some religion, and I know that you don’t have any beliefs yourself.”
I looked at her, expecting this, but determined to keep it civil. “No Mrs Dudley, we haven’t thought about going to church yet. But as you know I was raised Baptist, so our children will be raised with morals and values, of that you can be sure. We’re not really that worried about it right now.”
Mrs. Dudley eyeballed me, and you could see her wheels turning fast. “But dear, you SHOULD be worried, I mean with the way things are nowadays. The breakdown of the family and everything just running WILD in this country. It’s very important you have a strong foundation. Don’t you think so? The council will teach you all of that. Tom knows, right Tom?” She raised her eyebrow and looked at Tom, who was looking down at his plate and continued, “Even with this election coming up. I hope you’re going to vote for the right man at least. These are such uncertain and confused times, the end times you know, and we have to be prepared. That Eric Cantor, he’s a Jew I know, but he’s been chosen by God and shares our values. We need someone with values in there. We’ve got to turn things back and stop all this running rampant. I hope you plan on voting for him, dear. All this immorality, it just has to stop.” She looked at Tom, “he’s the one you’re voting for I’m sure, right Tom?”
Tom nodded affirmatively.
“Mrs. Dudley, with all due respect, you know I wasn’t raised with your beliefs, and I don’t hold them today. I’m not voting for the likes of that man, sorry. I’m voting for the other guy. And it’s only because my own personal beliefs tell me to love my neighbor as myself. And not to hate and divide and force my beliefs down other people’s throats.”
“Louise!” said Tom.
“I told you I’m not going to stand for this! I’ve told you that all along. Your God doesn’t run this country. Let’s just have a nice lunch.”