Monday, April 18, 2016

Can I Get A Witness?

On a recent trip back home to visit my folks, I was working out in the yard raking up leaves from last fall when I heard a car door in my parents' driveway.  I walked around the house to see two very well-dressed women getting out of a minivan and walking to the front door.  I yelled a hello and one of the women responded with, "Is she home?"

They seemed to know my Mother and her daily routine of visiting Dad at the nursing facility.  The more talkative of the two women introduced herself as Rose and wanted to leave literature for Mom.  I wasn't sure if Mom actually knew these women or if perhaps she had met them just once during a visit with Dad.  In any event, I knew they were peddling something about God and Jesus and wouldn't have let them near Mom in the first place, even if she actually had been home at the time.

But again, Rose seemed to know Mom.  She talked about how impressed she was with the amount of time Mom spends visiting Dad.  The second woman asked how long my parents have been married and I told them that it would be 55 years in August.  I went on to say that Mom took her marriage vows very seriously and is sticking by him through this ordeal.

And then something interesting happened...

Lady #2 smiled at me and said, "So I can see by your hand that you are married too!"  I replied simply, "yes I am."  Rose went on to elaborate about how important the ring is as a symbol of marriage and how people out in the world need to learn to respect the ring more as a promise of devotion - which is why she doesn't do things like have lunch with male co-workers or go out with male friends because it could make her husband uncomfortable.  Seems a bit strict, but whatever works for Rose and her insecure husband.

Rose asked me how long I've been married.  I said that we got married a year and a half ago.  There was a pause, I think because they expected me to have been married longer based on my age.  Or perhaps they were silently surmising that I was probably on my 2nd or 3rd marriage.  I went on to explain that we had been together for almost 11 years but decided to actually get married a year and a half ago.

And then Lady #2 asked the question I'd been giddily waiting for...   "And what's your wife's name?"  My immediate response was, "Well, I'm married to a man and his name is Kevin."

{insert sound of crickets chirping}

I'm confident they were not expecting that response - not only what I said but the ease with which I said it.  It took a few seconds for them to process the information, after which, Rose asked, "And how does your mother feel about that?"  Again, I was unsure of their relationship to Mom so I didn't want to be, well, ME.  In any other circumstance, I would have retorted back with something like, "well, how should she feel?"  Instead, I simply replied, "My family loves Kevin.  I actually think they love him more than they love me."

And then the REALLY interesting thing happened...

Rose simply invited me to go on their website, www.jw.org, to read all the advice they have for married couples, things like how to discuss problems with each other, how to compromise, how to deal with the "silent treatment".  To their credit, whatever these two women might have been thinking, they chose to accept me right there and then as just another married person, and preached to me just as they would any other married person.  In a rural place like Frostburg where exposure to a married gay person is about as rare as seeing an albino penguin, I give Rose and her cohort a lot of credit for choosing to accept me and not preach THEIR beliefs to me.  I wasn't impressed enough to convert, but was still pleasantly surprised.

The conversation ended somewhat quickly after that and they politely excused themselves, asking me to be sure Mom received the literature they were leaving and to tell her they stopped by.  They pleasantly said their goodbyes and climbed back into the minivan and drove away.  I chuckled to myself as I walked back to the yard, "I bet they weren't expecting THAT today."

And I picked up the rake and went back to my boring yard work.