By eighteen, my religious associations were not as solid as they used to be. By the time I had turned nineteen, I went only because I was too afraid to say, I didn't want to go anymore. But stubborn resolve won out and I finally mustered up the courage. One Sunday morning, I calmly stated to my father, that I would not be going to church. I had reached a religious peak and had no other mountains to climb. I wanted to get down. I knew that there would be resistance from my father, and I had to be ready for anything. I weighed my options should the ultimate threat of "this is my house and these are my rules" was used against me. Mom had always used that threat on a regular basis, but not dad. However, it was possible that it could very well become dad's trump card. I'd be surprised if he used it, but the possibility existed. It would become the proverbial "gauntlet" being thrown down. So, I was ready for anything--or so I thought. Dad's response deflated every possible scenario I had prepared.
"Are you sure?" he asked standing in the hallway in front of his bedroom door. He smelled of Vitalis and aftershave. His voice was calm, and there was not a hint of anger. But, I could see the look of confusion and disappointment on his face. I felt a chink in my resolve, but stubbornness was my alli and I held firm.
I was standing in the doorway of my bedroom still in my bedclothes. I had been up for hours, but felt the clothing would be for added effect (I'd been planning this for a while). Mass started at nine and dad was ready to leave the house at eight. You could always count on dad to get to any event at least an hour before it started. He stood a few feet away in his pressed slacks, white belt, newly polished shoes, and starched collard shirt. I waited, not really sure what would happen next. This could be the quiet before the storm. It was an unexpected event. No one had ever made such a bold move in regards to church. This was big! Whatever reaction I was expecting from him never came. Mom on the other hand was shouting from the end of the hallway near the kitchen. I was used to droning out her voice. Dad looked to her and then back at me. In a light tone he said, "I'll say a prayer for you."
I smiled and said, "thanks, I appreciate it."
I could hear the car backing out of the driveway. Mom was probably giving dad an earful about why he didn't make me go to church. I knew he would try to convince me in other ways to go back to church, but today marked a turning point in our relationship. I had made my first adult decision and dad had recognized it as one.