“We could always use one more, Allen.”

by Captain Bradley

I’m a son of Alzheimers. At least it feels that way today. My Dad was a great athlete in his youth, became a local bowling and golf champion, worked an extremely varied working-class career, and sometimes helped Mom raise two boys. That’s all pretty much history, but still educates me. He’s now in his little world between the bedroom and the sunroof of the little rancher home where I grew up.

Dad was also a preacher’s kid, who never voluntarily set foot in church after he left home, except for weddings and funerals. Papaw was a sweet, little, round grandad, preacher, and Barber of Vestal to me. Dad has shared other recollections in the past. The most telling memory he shared with me once has left me obsessed with making sure our kids know “I love you” from this Dad on a regular basis. Sounds easy for our generation. Not so much for the previous two Hill generation Dads.

Mom, on the other hand, lives and breathes church. Always has…as long as I’ve known her. She probably needed it more, like many work/bowling/golf widows of that generation. She drug my brother and I too. My brother bolted early and probably never looked back at church, past his first marriage. Mom was a rock…practical, spiritual, and sarcastic all in one little woman frame. She still is for her church today. Church is her rock, it seems, and she needs it. Dad was diagnosed years ago with early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Not how one’s retirement years should be spent. But, that for another day and a future eulogy.

Back to my Dad and his rare observation regarding organized religion. One story sticks out in my mind. One of the life-long preachers I had as a kid would visit Dad at our home every few years. My best memory of one visit was when Preacher Holland was rhetorically slapped by my Dad with “church is just full of hypocrites”. To which, this good preach retorted “well, we could always use one more, Allen”. I still love that snappy comeback. The good preacher was ready for that one.

Every group in every part of our small worlds is full of hypocrites, intellectuals, fools, cool kids, grown-ups, and kids…like never REALLY left high-school. Why should the church be any different? There are even clubs of like kids of similar demographics. We call the Sunday School classes. My Dad’s silly generalization still has merit with me…but…I would replace “hypocrites” with “humans”. It’s just the way it is and I’m not ready for any reunion…even this Holy Week.