“Life is too sweet for bitterness”
This is a family story I never heard until the last year or so.
In the 1930’s when my parents were planning on getting married there must have been an announcement of their plans in the newspaper or someplace. My Grandfather Fergus Sr. received a message from the Bishop to come and see him. The Bishop told my Grandfather that he had to stop my mothers marriage. That no way should she be marrying the son of a protestant minister. And the Bishop made it clear there would be no wedding in his church between the young couple.
Well, my Grandfather being the wonderful person that he was told the Bishop that no way would he do such a thing but that he would have them married elsewhere if the Bishop continued and I am sure he also told him that the families support of the church would disappear. In a community where my Grandfather was involved in many organizations, had a strong medical practice and was involved in politics it was probably not a good idea to get him really angry since he had seven more children who might be getting married in the Cathedral.
So, the Bishop said they could get married but not in the Cathedral but in the Chapel and that they could have no flowers and no music. At some point they must have all agreed, we are getting married so let’s just do it. I am sure the Bishop did not marry them. And from the pictures both families were all there and they looked very happy and I am sure they had a lovely reception at home etc.
But what did happen as a result of all of this meanness on the part of the Bishop was my Dad’s bitterness and anger towards the Church. He had been studying to become a Catholic some have said, although, now that I know this other story, from a letter my uncle wrote to his future bride, I think the story we have been told was not entirely accurate. We had always been told that my dad was studying in NY to join the Church and that when they went to Canada some Fr. Brown refused to accept the classes he had been taking and told him he would not be accepted into the Church in Canada unless he took instructions there which would have been impossible. I think that was a story to protect the Bishop.
Anyway, no matter what the story over the years my dad’s bitterness never healed. But since he had nothing to do with the Catholic Church and the only Catholics he was in close contact with were his wife and children we were the ones to pay the price. By the time I was seven I was already so angry with him that I wanted nothing to do with him. We would get punished in the darnest ways. In the summer on vacation one year my mom told him she wanted to take us to church on a Sunday morning somewhere out in the boonies. We found a church and he sat in the car while we went. Afterwards he drove to a bridge and told us to stay in the car while he went fishing, he wanted to get his hour. None of us ever thought to say anything to him, in fact he went to his death never understanding the anger some of us had towards him.
As a seven year old going to her first communion you can understand the confusion when my mom dressed me out in the back porch in a borrowed dress and veil and then as soon as the service was over it was back home, out of the dress and into play clothes while all my friends were at home having celebration parties. I had to pretend nothing had happened at all that day.
As I got older my anger grew and grew. But in those days in our house you could never say anything to anyone if you were angry or upset. It was always “go to your room until you can be nice”. So, life went on in this fashion and we never did resolve it. I wonder if he would have died so soon if he had been able to get rid of his anger and stop punishing us instead of that Bishop. Even when he had been drinking and having lively discussions with our uncles it amazes me that it never came out. I wonder why my mom put up with it and did not try and get him to stop his taking it out on us. People always say, “Well, you know back then woman could not speak up” I don’t buy that at all. My mom and dad had long discussions about lots of things.
So in thinking about the phrase above remember if you are bitter you are probably not only hurting yourself but those who love you the most because they feel it and may not know it has nothing to do with them.
And LIfe is too Sweet to waste on such things.