Angela continued . . .


I want to continue with my recollections of life with Angela. This entry will provide some context to the key players and placement in the 1971 Iowa home. When she turned two I had to work. A bit of background I need to dredge from my deeply buried memory banks. My wasbund had originally planned on going to seminary and then into the Eastern Orthodox priesthood with his brand spanking new Theology degree. But, a crisis in the local church had driven him away from that dream and caused the whole family and other congregants (primarily Syrian and Lebanese families) from the local St. Thomas Eastern Orthodox Church. The incident played out like this. A young priest from Lebanon was a hot headed young man who fought with my wasbund’s father (among others) from day one. My wasbund and his father were the chanters – with my father-in-law having been the chanter at that church for more than 50 years. During a funeral of an old woman with a very large and respected family, my father-in-law and the priest quietly bickered during the ceremony over liturgical disagreements; beginning at the altar as the priest was swinging the sensor and both were chanting, continuing down the aisle sensing and singing while leading the pallbearer from the church and down the fronts steps and culminating at the curb where the hearse waited with doors open for the casket. By this time the two men were yelling at each other in Arabic, then the young priest pushed my 80 something year old father-in-law off the curb. While he lay there, my father-in-law had to fight off the priest in full vestments who was kicking him.

Okay, that is bad and naturally you’d assume the Archdiocese would whisk that priest out of town, out of country, for some serious reformation. You would be wrong. I remember us both at a youth convention meeting with the Archbishop of North America and hearing some half-asses justification for leaving this disturbed person in this position of authority.

The smells and bells of Orthodoxy were a love affair for me from age 18 until I hit 30 or so. I’d planned our wedding around the Byzantine art of the Iconostasis at the altar and mimicking the brocade of clerical vestments. Each of my bridesmaids wore a different color brocade and carried a different colored flower. My gay baker called it an orgasm of color. It is one month shy of 40 years ago that this photograph was taken and preceded the crazy priest incident. Although Angela was baptized in the Orthodox Church, our lives moved away from this patriarchal platform incrementally. But as a toddler and little girl, she was deeply involved in her Sittoo and Jiddoo’s lives and her daddy was a chanter and then a deacon. It was part of a tapestry.

All of the fallout from the crazy priest was devastating to my ex and to the patriarch of the family. Scratch the plans for the priesthood. The career path he'd seen for himself since he was young just disappeared. He got a job selling appliances and I eventually had to work at his brother’s pipe store / book store to make ends meet. Angela's life grew even more social as the extended family of my wasbund's family became her home(s) away from home with elderly grandparents and a host of aunts, uncles and cousins all around. This photograph is with her cousin Paul who was baptized in a joint ceremony with Angel at the Eastern Orthodox Church - with a new priest finally in charge.

Her first year she'd grown very close to my sister who lived with us for a time. But, in 1970-1972 my own family wasn't as close as we'd all later become as my sisters and I raised our children we grew closer. But, those recollections are for later this week.

2 comments:

Beany said...

Angela (and you) is very beautiful.

I was very close to the edge about a decade ago, and reading a perspective from a mother has shed a lot of light (I'm the first born as well).

katecontinued said...

That is good to hear.