I don’t think fiction or poetry could improve this so…I’ll put it out there as it happened…if not for reality, where would creativity be?
Long time ago, I thought I wanted to be a nun. In retrospect, I’m very lucky that my father – who didn’t know if he believed in Jesus Christ – took all five of us out of Catholic school and put us into the public school system…which, in the 60’s, in some parts of New Orleans, was better than the private religious system. By that time, I was already 10 so…the nuns already had a corner on my mind. I hope no one will find this odd but, if you do, it’s just the way things were in New Orleans in the early 60’s….I had never – that I knew of to that point – ever spoken to or ever known someone who was not a Roman Catholic.
On my first day in public school, I came home crying. I couldn’t believe that all the kids in my class weren’t going to go to heaven because they weren’t Roman Catholic. I cried until my father came home from work and we were eating supper. Nothing, before my father returned from work that my mother could say, would console me. Conversation went like this: (circa 1961)
Dad: Ellespeth, either stop crying and eat or tell me what’s the crying about.
Me: (wailing) None of the kids in my class are going to go to heaven.
Dad: What? (he probably wanted to say WTF)
Me: That’s what they told us at St. Joseph’s – only Catholics go to Heaven and other people go to Hell. (more wailing)
Dad: EVERY ONE goes to heaven. Living is like a hell.
Mom: (rolled her eyes and folded her hands)
Me: What? (Too over my head then)
Dad: All of the kids in your class will go to heaven. EVERY ONE goes to heaven – EVEN PET DOGS.
Me: (Squinching up my face and eyes and brows) Rags is in Heaven? (our dog who’d recently died)
Dad: Yes, Ellespeth. Rags is in heaven. There is a special place in heaven for pets.
Me: Are you sure?
Dad: Yes. I’m so sure. Now drink your V-8 juice and stop crying.
Me: Are you sure?
Dad: Yes. I’m sure. You’re only 10 years old. Stop worrying so much about dying.
Hahaha! Best conversation my father and I ever had! Got me thinking even then. Probably why I’m so morbid 😛