Chapter 2.2: The Good Years

Chapter 2.2: The Good Years

 

While living in Nevada a Jehovah’s Witness neighbor began talking to my mom about her faith and the urgency of the times in which they were living. It was 1975 and mom agreed to begin a bible study course based on the Witnesses’ own New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures and a Watchtower publication called The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life. Through this course my mom learned of God’s plan to cleanse the earth from evil and allow faithful humans to return to our original purpose—living in a peaceful garden-like world free from sin. The promise of a better world for herself and her new daughter, coupled with an opportunity to learn and improve herself through constant study was exactly what she needed, and she was baptized within the year.

My dad, however, was a harder sell. He carried on with his drinking and gambling and squandering money while my mom began reading the bible daily, attending meetings with the Witnesses three times a week and going door-to-door. But she was determined to keep her marriage together, and that meant bringing him along through Armageddon. She was persistent and he succumbed to the promise of God’s forgiveness and the prospect of eternal life and was baptized later that year. This was his chance to right the wrongs of his past, yes, but also to become the man that God intended him to be. He truly believed that, and from what I can tell, he still does.

    
The second thing that drastically changed our lives at this point was that my dad had an opportunity to learn a trade. From Nevada, he heard the call: there was a new industry taking off in California and they needed skilled workers. Training was available. We moved to Santa Clara, California and my father became an electronics technician working for a company making semiconductors. Silicon Valley in the last part of the 1970s was a magical place. Reformed hippies like my parents, technology nerds and lots of immigrants made for a diverse, quirky culture.

Once they were both baptized and committed to the Witness lifestyle, my parents threw themselves into creating an ideal family life. My mom was determined to have what she’d been missing her whole life – a traditional family. We weren’t wealthy, but we went on day trips in the car, visited amusement parks, had parties and picnics; and of course, weekly family bible studies and dinner at the table every night. My dad rose to the occasion and dedicated himself to becoming the best father he knew how to be. Both my parents relied heavily on the Witnesses’ definition of an ideal marriage and family life: straight monogamy, with the man as the head of the house and the wife as helpmate. Children were to be obedient, and disciplined regularly to ensure that they were respectful of the order of the home and community. There was even a book published by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society called Making Your Family Life Happy, which we studied together.

In Santa Clara we found a congregation and settled in, making friends with several other young families. We were in a bubble within a bubble: part of a small, minority religious community that clung together waiting for the end of the world in a place where the future was being conceived and built at breakneck speed by people like young Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.

In 1976, my brother was born. Though I was only two and a half years old, I remember the day they brought him home to our modest apartment. I was waiting there with a family friend, and so very proud to be a big sister. When they arrived, my parents told me to run and grab a pillow from their bed so I could lay it on my lap. They laid him on the pillow and I stared down at him, drinking in the sight. I had a brother. This feeling has never really left me. To this day, I am just as delighted each time I see his face.

We had a community. Picnics and camping trips, dinner parties and baby showers. Mom and Dad had a weekly family bible study with us. We went to meetings with our friends three times a week, and out in service every Saturday. Dad was making a decent income and we moved to rent a house in a neighborhood where several of our friends lived. As kids, we congregated in the street riding bikes, roller skating and playing ball until the sun went down. On the first day of kindergarten me and my best friend walked to school together with our mothers in tow.

Life was good.

Annual District Convention for Jehovah’s Witnesses – Candlestick Park, San Francisco – 1978
Congregation picnics. Wholesome family fun.

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