I once posted a copy of my impassioned plea to the Watchtower Society--I Want My Mother Back. Well, I just wanted to let all of you know that I got her back for a whole 17 days, and we had one final adventure together before she died, and there wasn't a damned thing They could do about it.
My mother is, was, a long-term loyal JW and I was her disfellowshipped daughter. I believe she was in an almost constant state of conflict over me because her very strong maternal instincts demanded she behave openly and lovingly toward me, while her WTS-trained conscience demanded the opposite. I think that may even have been a core component of her illness, but who knows?
In a few short words, I think of my mother as having been infinitely generous, gregarious, good-humoured, active, adventurous, artistic (although she adamantly denied this), independent, inspiring, intelligent, loving, and, paradoxically, something of a melancholy loner at times. She loved going new places and trying new things, and everywhere she went she made at least one new life-long friend. It took her a good long while to realize that picking up hitch-hikers might actually contain an element of danger. She was a fearless explorer and made the absolute most out of every situation, good or bad, right up until the end. We had many adventures together before I had to stop trying to be the Witness I could never truly be and was eventually disfellowshipped.
I was an odd child. My grandmother thought of me as a "changeling," and my mother confessed to me that she never really understand me. But she still sheltered and nurtured my uniqueness as if I were some bizarre plant that had unexpectedly sprouted up in her carefully tended garden. She protected me as best she could from those who would have broken me down and forced me into a more acceptable form.
I am listening to a song by Jude on myspace that makes me think of her because she truly is the Blood In My Veins. I feel her love, her warmth and strength and passion, flowing through me with every beat of my heart--her first and her last gift to me. She tried. She tried to let me be me and she tried to raise me to be a good JW, but those two things turned out to be mutually exclusive, and that was a great torment to her. And to me as well, I guess, now that I think of it.
It seemed that since she could never stop being one of Jehovah's Witness, buying every bit of what they sold--lock, stock, and barrel--and since I could never go back to being one, especially knowing all I do about them now, it seemed our adventures together had come to an end. But this woman who was stronger and busier than 10 of me grew increasingly unwell within the last 2 years, and finally, with an elder's blessing, invited me to come see her and hinted that if I could help out at all with her care it would be much appreciated.
"Of course I can, " I responded. "You're my mother!" So I took my daughter 6 hours south of where we live to pick her up, pack her up, and take her 2 hours further south to a small motel in a small town where we lived together for 17 days. The MDs who diagnosed her with cancer (lung, liver, colon, and bone) and drained 7 pounds of fluid from around one lung, could not offer her any hope of recovery, so she said to just release her so she could start her own program of healing.
Hospice provided her with a hospital bed (which she had to leave behind when we went to the motel) and oxygen and morphine (which we took with us). I bought a card table and set up a little kitchen for us with a hotplate, a coffee pot, and an electric skillet. We had a tiny refridgerator. I cooked breakfast and supper every day, trying hard to make it appealing to her. She was so thin it hurt to look at her, and I had to be extra careful when I was massaging her pain away. I packed picnic lunches to eat in the park, as we had to drive 25 miles through the desert to her 1st appointment, set up a foam/sleeping bag bed for her to rest on in the park till lunch, then go for a second treatment, and sometimes a later third, before driving back to the motel for the night.
My 5-year old girl was very good-natured, loving, and helpful. Grandmother's laugh therapy was her responsibility and every so often she would present herself before my mother's generously pillowed bed with a flourish, announcing, "It's laughing time," and proceeded to make funny faces, perform clown-like antics, and tell goofy stories. But the funniest moments were the unintentional ones, such as when I was too distracted and Grandmother was feeling too weak and tired to laugh. Miss Z finally demanded very sternly, "Will somebody PLEASE laugh!?!" That brought a nice one from both of us.
I'll spare you the rest of the details. Suffice it to say, all I felt the whole time was a prevailing sense of love. Pure love. We got to be mother and daughter again. I got to treat her like a queen and appreciate her true nature apart from the JW stuff to which she was so attached. Too bad it took a fatal illness to bring out the best in everyone. My JW relatives were nothing but loving and helpful. Something we should all aspire to be towards each other all the time, not just in a crisis, me thinks.
I'm glad we had one last adventure together. I'm glad we got to love each other without hindrance for a little while.
I wish healing for all those whose families have been broken and damaged by bad religion.
An Open Letter to the Governing Body of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society and the Christian Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses:
I Want My Mother Back
I have one mother on this earth, and she has one child, but you will not allow her to have an ordinary mother-daughter relationship with me. The only way she can do that now is if she is willing to suffer the same fate as me--disfellowshipping--which would result in her too being shunned by all her Jehovah's Witness family members and friends. This is no small thing as she is a 3rd generation JW who has been a baptized member for some 55 years. It would also leave her feeling doomed to destruction since she believes what you teach in that regard.
You have led her to believe that to disobey you is to disobey God, and, therefore, to continue our relationship would mean that she was choosing me over God. This places her in a very difficult position, and has greatly strained our relationship, causing much psychological stress and sorrow.
Because I do not agree with all your religious teachings, having found many of them to be unchristian, and even anti-christian, she worries that I will be sentenced to eternal damnation. To live with the horror of this, she must harden her heart toward me and put even greater faith in you as God's chosen representatives.
Do you truly understand the position of responsibility before God and man that you have thus taken upon yourselves? You claim to govern God's only spirit-directed organization on earth today, and that no one can come to God and receive salvation except through you as Jesus' agents. Although I do not recognize you as such, acknowledging Jesus as my only mediator, my mother does accept you in this capacity. My love for her is the reason I approach you now and hope that you will seriously consider granting the request I am going to make.
I was baptized by Jehovah's Witnesses as a minor, without fully understanding the ramifications this would have on the rest of my life. I gave in to the peer pressure of the congregation in which I was raised, and the well-meaning coercion of several elders, one of whom was my uncle. I did not know at that time what it meant to accept Jesus as my Saviour and have a personal relationship with him, nor did I comprehend the Grace of God and the action of the Holy Spirit. I understood the words of your teachings but not their full meaning and far-reaching implications, especially since, as a JW, I was discouraged from questioning those teachings or making any in-depth exploration of the Bible except in conjunction with your publications.
Therefore, I am asking that you consider both my baptism and my disfellowshipping as null and void--annulled, if you will. I am also asking that you make a statement to that effect, in writing, notifying myself, my mother, and her congregation of it.
If I am no longer classified as a disfellowshipped ex-Jehovah's Witness, then perhaps I will be able to eventually repair the damage that has been done to my relationship with my mother. I will be able to present myself as I truly am--a prodigal daughter who has found her way home to her loving Father. She will be free to share her faith with me again, this time as one adult to another. If she wishes, she will be able to treat me as she does her other relatives who never became JWs. And, on that basis, she will be able to get to know me again and either accept or reject me according to her own conscience.
It is my heartfelt desire that you, too, be either accepted or rejected on the merits of what you truly are, what you teach, how you govern, and what effect this has on your members and ex-members. It is for this reason that I am making this an open letter, to be shared with others, along with a list of resources where people can go for a more complete and accurate picture of your doctrines, policies, and procedures.
I pray for you and for anyone who is in any way involved with you. May you know God's mercy when you need it most, and may you show that mercy to others.