On Melvin

fire and brimstoneOn Melvin’s good days, he was eccentric.  Other days, he tipped toward fanaticism.   While he was in the army in Korea, he wrote home asking Mama how she’d like a Korean daughter-in-law.  Mama wouldn’t like that at all.  Answering her it was just a joke; that was the end of it.  After mustering out, he came home and married Maggie, a young widow with a son.  Almost immediately, they had a son, then a year later, a second who was born with birth defects.  Melvin became was inconsolable and melancholic, sure his child was being punished for his sin of abandoning the woman and child in Korea he’d not having the courage to marry and bring home to his disapproving family.

Isolating himself, Melvin gave his life to God becoming an evangelical, Hell-fire and brimstone preacher in a sect of his own concoction.  Sadly, his fanaticism made life on his family so hard, poor Maggie left when he tried to force her into following his fanatic beliefs.  Eventually, his membership abandoned him to preach to an empty church, which he still does.  He brushed the divorce aside, insisting that “What God had put together, no man could put asunder.”  Though she could barely tolerate him, he considered himself still responsible for Maggie under the eyes of God, visiting her periodically and providing her with things a man should provide a wife, clothes, assistance with upkeep on her house, and money.  She wasn’t afraid of him and really needed his financial help.

He was unyielding in his beliefs, demanding that his children follow rules he lay down, disowning his adult son, a fine man, for drinking beer, alienating the second with his bizarre demands of fealty.  Eventually, he “adopted” a family of immigrants who were faithful to his religious beliefs, cutting his own children off.  He eventually got so deep in debt supporting the family, that he filed bankruptcy.  At the age of seventy-eight, he still works full-time to pay off debts he co-signed for them.  Maggie has since died.  From time to time, I still see Melvin, standing on the rural roadside, holding up his Bible, hoping to find someone to preach to.

I feel for this lonely man who has alienated himself from society and everyone he loves for what looks to me like to be an unnecessary sacrifice in the service of God.  I hope there is a blessing for him, sometime, somewhere.



27 thoughts on “On Melvin

    • It is sad. I still see him sometimes. He climbs to to top of an eight foot ladder is his Sunday suit and sits ther himself lding his Bible toward Heaven. He is estranged from his own family but has adopted a family of immigrants. They ran him into bankruptcy.


    • We see him sometimes now. He spends his days on the side of the road. He sits on top of an eight foot ladder and holds his Bible up to passing motorists, looking stuoically ahead as they pass.


  1. dave lewis says:

    I have a friend like Melvin, always quoting the bible. I worked with his father who was a tyrant and none of his sons could measure up to his expectations. The daughters lucked out and turned out o.k. but all the sons were more than a little strange.


  2. Linda,
    I feel sad for Melvin. In some way, I think he is a good man with a conscience and a good Christian too. Ordinary mortals like us do not understand the thought processes of such people, I guess.
    Was he your cousin ?


  3. As sad as the story is, it did make a fascinating read. I’m in agreement with the commented above, in that this is likely more to do with a mental issue then a religious one. The “god” Poor Melvin worships there is no resemblance to mine. Let us hope God takes his mental condition into account. Saddest of all is that his story is far from unique.xx D

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am suspicious he has schizoaffective disorder and possible PTSD. He has other families who are depressive, and several with substance abuse problems. He had a schizophrenic aunt who the family said was never “right” after she had her babies.


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