JJ Vincent is thankful for what this faith did for his mother.
I never imagined, ever, in my wildest dreams, that I would be thankful for the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
My mother was my dad’s 24-hour caretaker for many years before he died in 2009. I knew she got out occasionally with neighbors, but about 6 months after we lost my dad, she came out as a Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I don’t think I could have been more surprised. For most of my life, my mother, an ex-Catholic, had been deeply distrustful of organized religion, and here she was with a heavily organized, structured faith group. And I don’t didn’t choose the words “came out” lightly. She knows full well what most people think of Witnesses. I know how much courage it took her to tell me.
Whatever you may or may not think of the Witnesses, what they gave my mother saved her, and helped rebuild our relationship.
For the first time in my life, we talked about the verbal and mental abuse she heaped on myself and my father, even as he was rapidly declining. And she apologized. She counsels other people against acting out against others with insults and derision, because she has internalized the church’s message of love, and understands the damage that cruelty can do. She used to be prone to horrible fits of temper, to the point of being banned from stores and restaurants. She tells me now that when she feels anger coming on, she prays to Jehovah, and she feels calm. Her less-than-friendly attitudes towards immigrants and certain minority groups has done a complete 180, as she truly believes them to all be God’s children.
And she’s no longer a self-imposed shut-in. When she moved here from California, she had a ready-made support group that introduced her to North Alabama, took her shopping for a much-needed new wardrobe, listened to her talk about her cats and her garden. She had made a few friends in California and was worried about leaving them. The Jehovah’s Witnesses here took her in. And the ministry work gives her a purpose and keeps her mind active, even as dementia is slowly taking it away.
Do I share her faith? No. Does she expect me to? No. She accepts me and my partner as we are, and we do the same for her.
She is no longer the woman who raised me. She’s my mother and my friend, and I am thankful for the church that had a hand is making that happen.