High school graduation loomed for Tom’s oldest non-disabled kid, a son that’s as bright as they come. The son has always been in the gifted and talented program at the local schools and was eligible for a few different college scholarships. The problem was that except for the small scholarship money there was no other funds for college. the scholarships were about enough to pay Tom Jr.’s tuition at community college but not enough to pay for books, a car, and gas back and forth much less pay for room, board and tuition at one of Virginia’s four year universities.
How do I know that? Because Hubby was the recipient of a late night drunken call from Tom, a call out of the blue. The gist of the call was to complain that we had money to put our kids through college and he didn’t. That it wasn’t fair and it wasn’t fair we would never lend him any for anything. UnBiblical. Stingy mean. Christians were supposed to share what they had with each other and the poor.
I was baking bread that night when he called. I kneaded dough, harder and harder in frustration as I realized he was haranguing my husband over money again. He never stopped to think that Hubby and I both worked, lived frugally and put aside money for years to be able to put our kids through school and afford the things we needed.
My husband handled Tom with the gentleness and patience that I myself lacked mightily by that point. It turned out to be a moot point anyway. Tom Jr. ended up signing up to be an intern at Teen Mania in Spring Valley, Texas. We did support Tom Jr. along with others so he could stay two years in the program. But I had heard through church that Tom was doing nothing to support Tom Jr. at Teen Mania, having told his son that now that he was over eighteen and graduated from high school he was on his own as far as the future.
I don’t know how or why but at that time Tom and Tina sold their tiny house and purchased a large colonial style new home with an in ground swimming pool. How they managed to pull it off was a mystery. The only thing I could figure out is that it was the height of the junk mortgage scam when thousands of people with no down payment and lousy credit got financed.
The church put in a huge audio video system, having Tom design and implement the system before installing it. We’d started to put on these huge healing conferences at our little church with many of us conference junkies thinking we had the inside track on healing aliments of all kinds but, don’t you know, all ailments were caused by sin and unbelief.
Once the system was up and running our pastor told Tom he could not run the system because Tom wasn’t ‘living right’ enough to be in a visible ministry at church. I couldn’t believe the church council had delivered such a bitch slap to Tom because he’d donated so much of his time and expertise to this project. Felt bad for him, used and discarded like an empty can of Pepsi without a how do you do. To add salt to the wound the pastor told Tom he had to train the volunteer team to run the system.
Mostly Tom behaved, with us, with church, with others. Sometimes Tina would come to our healing services and ask for prayer to be healed of her long time neuro muscular disease. It was always awkward because she would approach myself and my best friend Josie to pray for her along with a few others. We’d pray as hard as we could yet nothing ever happened. But after she left the others would all swear she had an ‘evil presence’ around her, they’d want to perform cleansing prayer rituals and cast out whatever the thing was she carried. I must have been spiritually dull to that stuff because I never once felt or saw anything that lead me to believe Tina had anything other than a serious medical condition.
When Tom acted out it was minor and over quickly compared to the past. Once at Josie’s house her husband, my husband and Tom were watching a football game on television in the family room while Josie and I sat in the formal living room and visited. As the game went on Tom began to get increasingly agitated, screaming at the tv like a man possessed, not the normal guy rooting for his team. It happened again and again, drowning out the conversation between Josie and I. We were all the way across the house and shouldn’t have heard more than the buzz of the television noise. The other guys cheered or fussed during the game but not at the loud rage-filled volume spewing from Tom. Josie said something several times, asking the guys in general to keep it down because it was hard to talk and hear each other. Eventually she singled out Tom, asking him to knock it off. But it kept happening till Josie got up, went across the house to the family room and told Tom that his yelling was upsetting her, it was almost abusive and to KEEP IT DOWN!!! Tom’s response? The usual one. He yelled his favorite phrase, “No bitch tells me what to do!” and he left.
The next Sunday we were all at church and not conference land Tom came over and apologized to me for the incident. I told him he owned me nothing, I wasn’t mad but suggested he apologize to Josie, the offended party.
and then things got much worse..
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Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Roadkill on the Internet Superhighway
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce