Sunday, May 11, 2014

Susan Russell on Robbie’s split:

[Our marriages] are equally blessed and equally challenging. They are equally full of joy and equally full of disappointment. We equally love and cherish each other and we equally hurt and misunderstand each other. And, when a marriage fails, we are equally sad, scared and heartbroken. Just as the values that make up a marriage transcend the gender of the couple in the marriage, so do the challenges. And because all of our marriages are — for better or for worse — equal, they deserve equal protection under the law.

Do go on.

What I believe is that the vow “until death do us part” is absolutely binding on absolutely every marriage. And what I know is that sometimes the death that ends a marriage isn’t the death of one of the partners but the death of the marriage itself. And when that happens, the faithful thing — the honest thing, the healthy thing — is to grieve the death of the marriage. And then, from a Christian perspective, to trust the Easter promise that love is stronger than death — even the death of a marriage.

“The death of the marriage.”  The.  Death.  Of.  The.  Marriage.  Seriously, Susie?!!  Do you REALLY want to play that card?  Because if you do, you’ve just granted “spiritual” permission for every single bimbo in the entire world to sleep around on her husband and every single a-hole in the entire world to sleep around on his wife.

Good Lord.  So all that incessant Episcopalian yammering about blessing “life-long, committed relationships” actually was complete crap?

[Robbie's divorce] teaches us that even good people of deep faith with the best intentions can fail at making the marriage they hoped would be forever last forever. It teaches us that telling the truth about our lives and our challenges is not only healthy for us but can be in inspiration for others. And, most of all, it teaches us, in Gene Robinson’s own words: “Love can endure, even if a marriage cannot.”

Particularly when they can just declare the marriage “dead” and move on.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Episcopalians have retired the rationalization trophy.  Nobody else was ever in the ballgame.
Are you all interested in a little Johnson family history?  While doing genealogical research into my father’s side of the family, I sent to Ness County, Kansas for a copy of the marriage record of my paternal grandparents and discovered something that nobody in the family previously knew.

Let’s just say that the time between when my grandparents got married and when my father’s older brother was born was a good deal less than nine months.  Dad thought it had to have been a mistake but my aunt heard stories of Kansas girls who suddenly ran off to Kansas City because of wink, wink.

If anybody out in Ness City, Kansas knew, they didn’t say anything because my dad told me once that when he was a kid, his family used to go out there all the time and he actually seemed to have an affection for the place, insisting that we go out there on the car trip he and I took a year or so before his final illness.

And I was delighted to go.

Anyway, my grandparents married in 1917 and they made a life together in Kansas City.  Grandma had two other children, my dad and my uncle.  But my grandfather abruptly ended the marriage in 1957.
By dropping dead from an aortic aneurysm at the barber shop one day.

Then there was my old man.  I think I’ve mentioned here before that he and I didn’t get along all that well when I was a kid.  He was ex-military, I was a sensitive kid and he didn’t always much patience with kids who didn’t pick things up right away.

When I was a little kid, Pop had this tendency to snap at me whenever I tried to make what I thought was a contribution to the conversation (I’m pushing 60 and the words, “Don’t get smart!!” hurt as much now as they did then).  While it didn’t happen much, he wasn’t above humiliating me in front of the entire family if he was angry enough.

But do you want to know the really funny part?

My admiration for my father grows with each passing year.

The guy grew up during the Depression.  His folks didn’t make a lot of money so that meant that college was out.  He joined the Army Air Corps, flew the China-Burma-India Theater, came home, decided that he couldn’t stand the idea of living in Kansas City, went west and settled in Billings, Montana where he met my mom.

And thereby hangs another tale.

I don’t know if any of you have gone through it but when one of your parents dies, you sometimes find out things they never told you.  When my dad died in 2001, my siblings discovered that the time between my folks’ wedding and the birth of my brother was also a good deal less than nine months.

So was my folks’ marriage kind of, well, …forced?  Maybe.  But it happened.  Then my sister was born.  Then I was born which meant that my dad really needed to make more money which meant that he had to leave Montana, a place he and Mom loved, and return to Missouri, a place he basically detested.

But he made the move, getting a government job here while staying in the Reserves (Pop retired a 20-year man).  The money he invested back then is basically what I’m going to be living on for the rest of whatever life God grants me.

He came down with colitis in the early 60′s, which cost him a fair chunk of his large intestine and forced him to wear a colostomy bag for the rest of his life.  And he occasionally had to watch his youngest son silently communicate unspoken hatred of him.

Then there was his first bypass operation.  Then there was learning that my mom had Alzheimer’s.  Then there was he and I driving her over to the nursing home one morning to put his wife and my mother in there.

Then there was he and I visiting her every single day.  Then there was the day my sister brought her first-born child over one evening and Mom, who, if she had been right, would have been ecstatically over the moon, didn’t react at all.

Then there was her dying and stuff and her memorial service which my dad, who never went to church at all toward the end of his life,  made sure to attend.

THAT’S what true marriage means, Susie Russ.

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