The Summer I turned 10, my sister and I stayed with my aunt the week of my birthday. Mom and Dad had to fly to Houston for Dad's cancer treatment.
I went to Bible Camp. Or is it, wait, it was called Vacation Bible School. As you might be guessing right now, the bible is not exactly familiar territory for me. I think I remember liking it--it was kind of fun, and we had to work kinda hard to do stuff, like memorize verses. I let slip that I had never asked Jesus into my heart, which apparently was a big deal. The PIC (people in charge) said I should do that right away. So I prayed and said what they said I should say. I've always been a sucker for rule following.
My aunt's family is probably the most religious branch of the family. We prayed aloud at bedtime every day. I don't remember what I prayed about anymore. I don't even remember if we prayed for my dad.
The big G and the big J became big facets in my life that year, the way they never had been, before the big C became a big facet of my dad's life.
We didn't talk about it, and if we did I don't remember, but rather quickly after Dad was diagnosed, we started going to church. I'd only been to church over holidays, and then, only with Dad's parents. Elena and I both liked going to services because they had these zippered binders with art supplies in them, so instead of paying attention we could scribble furiously.
Mom never talked about it back then, but she definitely is an unbeliever. I wanted to believe, because all of the churchgoers said I should. Atheists, curiously enough, often have little to say about what you should believe. But Dad? Not sure. Maybe. Probably. Some of the things Bob said one time about his favorite songs made it sound like he did, and just didn't do anything about it because Mom was so...unbelieving. Well, I say that atheists don't have much to say about this, but I will add that Mom definitely needs to be convinced of someone's trustworthiness after she finds out they're Christian. Imagine her predicament when she found out the college I went to was sponsored by a church!
Every couple of years, Grandpa will make a particularly big deal about "those who are no longer with us" (which includes my Grandma, now), in his Christmas prayers. I've never particularly liked it. I think usually I'm not associating my father with holidays anyway, because I would have seen him everyday anyway. It doesn't make sense to think about it more on holidays. But church...maybe a little. I don't think I really consciously associate church with my dad, but I almost definitely associate services and sermons with the religious people I met during that time.
The day my Dad died, there was a minister there, whose name I didn't even know. He made some awkward comment about holding my comatose father's hand. He might have also suggested that we say things to him, not sure anymore. It was weird. I totally resented him. He might have been the guy who ran the memorial service, too, but I don't know. I wish I remembered more, but it was so long ago. All I remember is that I felt uncomfortable. From the church service my aunt told me wasn't very formal, but still lent me a slip and a skirt for. That was definitely the first time I ever wore a slip--at just over ten years old.