I love my uncle, the Southern Baptist preacher. I love his exuberance, his sunny personality, his sense of humor.
He has been an enormous help and source of support. He was grieving as well, but he made sure that I had as much trouble as possible deflected away. He made calls, he set up everything for the reception after the graveside, he spoke for my mom's surviving brothers and sister, letting me know that we were all in accord about how to proceed. He has been a solid support through this whole painful event. And I know that his faith is paramount. I love that about him. He has no doubts about what he believes, and he lives it. Really lives it.
He's not too enthralled with my nonchristian path, though, and he shuts down if I make any shadowy mention of it. I can't help smiling about it, because he sees himself as my father-figure, and he feels disappointed that I have left the fold, while his daughters are happily married to ministers and living in Zambia as missionaries. After 5 years of trying very hard to compete with my cousins for Most Likely To Rise in the Rapture, I realized that I AM NOT either of them, and I am not under my uncle's jurisdiction. I may be his niece, but I am not his responsibility.
He sincerely worries when someone he loves leaves the fold. I don't blame him. He's all real - a "true believer."
I got a few little mini-sermons this month. I made one comment that it would be good to have a pagan hospital chaplain and I got the cold disapproval face from him. I could have given the cold disapproval face right back for every one of those mini-sermons, but I didn't. I could have upbraided him at the graveside for trying to make my mom look like a long-time Christian when she has told me time and again that she wasn't interested in Christianity, but wanted me to at least give it a chance. (She was uncomfortable in churches in general.) But I let him do this because HE needed it. He NEEDED it for his own piece of mind. Because once she was gone, the whole process of the funeral was for the survivors. WE needed to see her as we wanted, as much as is possible that is, in order for us to move on. So to my uncle, she was an imperfect Christian, but Christian nonetheless. To me she was a woman who struggled with faith and religion in general. She wasn't crazy about my path, but not because she was afraid for my immortal soul. She doubted the existence of magic. Anyway, I could have done what he did to me, but I respect his faith so much that I won't resent him for living by it. Even if he got a little intolerant of alternative paths. I can forgive that in him.