Oblivion # 6: Dad Pulls A Plato
I am fairly certain I was raised by pagans. I am also fairly certain that the people who raised me would profess profound shock and deep consternation that I would ever think such a thing, let alone broadcast such a theory to anyone with an internet connection. And until I was ten or so, I never spared a thought for it myself. Pre-Vatican II Roman Catholicism was the order of the day which meant: No meat on Fridays, confession and three hour fasting before taking Communion, mortal sins sent you straight to Hell if you died without telling them to a priest who did something called Extreme Unction, which amounted to a get out of hell free pass. Mortal sins include missing Mass and murder. Simple.
I learned these things at my Saturday morning catechism class. Our text was the Baltimore Catechism, a series of questions and answers that settled everything. Who made us? God made us. Who is God? The Creator who made us. Move along, nothing to dispute here.
And all we had to do was memorize and recite. Which I was good at, really, really good, prize winningly good. The prize I remember was a scapula, a necklace that consisted of two small plastic squares connected by a ribbon. The morning in question, I remember coming home with my reward. My father was home, unusual for him. He was the maintenance foreman of a printing plant and generally at work on a Saturday morning. I came into the kitchen, where he was sitting at our kitchen nook, breakfast plate and coffee on the green formica table, and I started to recite my lesson.
I don’t recall how far I got before he stopped me.
Pamela, he said, you don’t really believe all that do you?
That was it. He went back to eating breakfast and we never spoke of it again. Perhaps he knew there was no need.
Stunned doesn’t do justice to the way that hit me. Gobsmacked, flabbergasted, dumbstruck begin to get close. It was like this:
I felt as though I had been living in the dark, in a deep well covered so tight that no light broke through, and with that question the cover had been lifted and a shaft of illuminating sunshine revealed an opening, and what’s more, a ladder.
I climbed up and out.