Y’all got a Snake in Y’all’s Tree

It’s not everyday one hears a dynamic statement like this! Melvin was the ex-husband of Mother’s old friend, Maggie. A good man, he’d gone just a bit “off the rails” and Maggie, had reluctantly left him as a result of his increasingly fantical religious leanings. Mother and Daddy had long been faithful congregants of their church, only missing services if unable to attend. Melvin showed up to visit one day, not long after Daddy died. Mother wasn’t particularly anxious to visit with him but had no concerns about inviting him in for coffee, since the families had been friends for more than twenty years. She served him coffee, dreading what might be on his mind. She was wearing a faded jeans and a cotton shirt with the top button undone. Speaking pleansantly, he asked, “Would you mind buttoning your shirt and rolling down your sleeves?” She did as he asked, as though she’d been caught flaunting herself.

Melvin unfolded a hinged message board. Before starting his talk, he made another request. “Would you please uncross your legs?” She did. Back to the talk; on one side of the board was a crudely painted train, running off the rails in a mountain pass, on the other, a plane ascending toward a cross in the heavens. Melvin explained to Mother, that if she didn’t follow Christ, like the train, she was “off the rails” and headed for hell.

Without thinking she recrossed her legs. He caught her. “Uh! Uh! Uh!” Shamed, she uncrossed them. He continued. “If she followed Christ, she’d do like the plane and “go to Jesus.” She was anxious for this creepy talk to be over and have him on his way. He turned to stare out her front door, speaking in a monotone. “Did y’all know y’all had a snake in y’all’s tree?”

The hair stood up on the back of her neck!

He walked directly to the gun cabinet where Daddy’s loaded guns still stood, took one out, walked to the front door, shot the snake, returned the gun the its slot, and returned to his seat to finish Mother’s religious instruction.

She got her purse, told Melvin she had some business to attend to, instructing him to lock the door on his way out. He never visited again, his duty done.

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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.

https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/sweet-hour-of-prayer-2/

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Y’all Got a Snake in Y’all’s Tree!

eve and serpentIt’s not everyday one hears a dynamic statement like this! Melvin was the ex-husband of Mother’s old friend, Maggie. A good man, he’d gone just a bit “off the rails” and Maggie, had reluctantly left him as a result of his increasingly fantical religious leanings. Mother and Daddy had long been faithful congregants of their church, only missing services if unable Continue reading

Y’all Got a Snake in Y’all’s Tree!

eve and serpentIt’s not everyday one hears a dynamic statement like this! Melvin was the ex-husband of Mother’s old friend, Maggie. A good man, he’d gone just a bit “off the rails” and Maggie, had reluctantly left him as a result of his increasingly fantical religious leanings. Mother and Daddy had long been faithful congregants of their church, only missing services if unable Continue reading