HELLO GOD


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Hello God,

I don’t know if your remember me, it’s been awhile since we spoke. I know how busy you are, but I wanted to tell you about my friend Joan, who just moved in up there. She was one of the best people I have known down here, so I assume she has already settled in. I hope you saved a really nice place for her.

Some acquaintances through the years actually thought we were sisters since we were together so much. If that was so, she was the pretty one. I remember the first time we met. Her boyfriend brought her over to meet Dr. Advice and me. Of course he wasn’t Dr. Advice yet, and she ended up marrying her boyfriend. She was from Texas, with an infectious Texas accent, and we realized we would be best friends forever, which was a good thing because the boys had been best friends since the age of five, and it would have been awkward if we didn’t like each other.

Her mother Rosie from Texas, named her for her favorite movie star, Joan Crawford, which she pronounced “Joanne”, but like a lot of us, she was called by several names: Joan, Joanne, Josie, but she was always “Joanie” to me.

As you know, she had a lot of problems the past few years, so I hope that has all been solved by now. She was a mean competitor on the tennis court, and we hiked over a lot of terrain together. We went on many trips along with our dear husbands. She lost hers some time ago as you know, so if there is a way to connect them again it would be really nice. I know she missed all that. Speaking of being a competitor, I hope there are some bridge groups up there, because she spent a lot of time winning card games. She also kept me up all night once playing Monopoly, long after the boys lost and went to bed, and she finally won that game too at 6 a.m.

She didn’t win the health game though, but she surely tried. I never saw anyone so brave, and determined. As such, she was a great inspiration to those of us who need inspiration. When she lost her hearing, I asked her if we needed to learn sign language, and she said no, they wanted her to learn to read lips. She became a pro at that too. She took up boxing to try to help her balance. I keep a picture of her with her pink boxing gloves.

I suppose by now you have looked into her case and can see what a great mother she was to her children and grandchildren. She kept track of them all so well it made me feel like a real slacker. People who didn’t know her well said she was sweet. I need to tell you she was a lot more than that. She was smart, funny, and a good business woman as well as sweet. She loved meeting people, and really made an effort to meet new people wherever she lived.

It’s been hard to communicate with her the past couple of years, but sometimes just sitting and holding hands was enough. I will miss that.

Anyway, God, I just wanted to make sure you met Joanie, and took good care of her. A lot of people down here miss her.

GRANDMA, GOD AND AIMEE, 2.


Aimee slipped unbidden into my dream last night, which brought to mind my grandmother’s fascination with her.

Aimee Semple McPherson was a Los Angeles evangelist and media celebrity from the 20’s and 30’s, the largest among a flurry of religious salesmen, all of whom were selling salvation, a commodity always in demand, and which costs them nothing to supply.

In Aimee’s philosophy, God, being Love, desires only that His children be happy, and they cast money into the collection box with reckless enthusiasm to assure them of that happiness. “Just give a little more” she would cajole, and they did.

Aimee’s call to Love offered an eternal Costa del Sol, liberally supplied with food, drink, sex and sun. Evil had no place in this ethereal paradise.

Grandma was a liberated woman seeking a new source of religious interpretation, and was enchanted with the notion that another woman could supply it. LIfe was not easy for my grandmother at that time; a single divorced woman raising two young daughters, while working and running a rooming house in the middle of the Great Depression.

The spiritual bubble burst for Grandma, a highly moral woman, when Aimee became romantially involved with her secretary, who was also married. This was simply too much for Grandma.

They had donned their swim suits and went for a swim on the Southern California beach, when it was reported that Aimee had been kidnapped. The town went crazy with worry over their favorite God-fearing darling, sending out dozens of people, even dragging the ocean searching for her body, and at least one man drowned in the failed effort. A ransom note was delivered, clarifying the terrible news that she had been kidnapped.

A month later, Aimee came walking in, swearing that she had been kidnapped, tortured, and turned loose in the desert to find her way home alone, though her physical condition belied it.

As the money poured in from grateful followers of her Four Square Church, her Temple filled to capacity but without Grandma. She rightly felt that she had been duped, and that Aimee was merely another false Wizard of Oz, hiding behind a shiny curtain.

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