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Posted by: 1997resignee ( )
Date: May 01, 2021 03:46AM

Back in my LDS daze while in graduate school (circa 1994), a group of unmarried young (and a few not so young) single adults engaged in a little exercise in which we each described one another with one word or a short phrase. The most perceptive and favorite label directed at me was “serendipity”. Little did I know that but two years later I would discover the rather small, but growing, online community at exmormon.org and, fondly remembered that descriptive label – serendipity – as I transitioned from a devout (yet vastly misinformed) believer in the fraudulent religion of Mormonism into a happy exmormon apostate.

At the suggestion of my father, just prior to my metamorphosis from cult to freedom, I returned home after graduate school (the capital city of Texas) – a city of serendipity, at least for me. I was eligible for a very advantageous loan on a piece of property that generated enough rental income to repay twice the amount of the monthly amount due on the note. That particular property had not been advertised for sale, but, was known by a banker who happened to be a tax client of my father. My parents had me join them on a deed using the special rate available to me as a recent graduate from professional school (law). While working out of that location, I researched my way out of Mormonism while the cabins, cottages, trailers, and houses rental income paid the note.

I eventually prepared a quitclaim deed ceding my interests to my mother; I never filed it, but, left it in the desk in the office – which I left behind for my parents when I transitioned to a career in public administration. Since that time, the property increased more than three times its acquisition value and has always provided my parents consistent cash flow and has been very helpful in maintaining and growing their other rental property interests (in central Texas as well as central Utah). However, maintaining a large portfolio of rental properties, most of which are low-income rentals, is difficult for octogenarians; so, I was relieved when my mother told me they were going to sell that one particular serendipitous slice of realty.

I think my parents destroyed the quitclaim deed. My father called me a little less than a year ago. For some reason he felt he needed to sell me on the idea of parting with the property, suggesting that one-third of the proceeds could be made available to my young daughter (middle schooler). I indicated that’d be great, but, suggested that he and my mom use the money to move from the old homestead to a safer, more accessible home because the redevelopment of roads has made entering and exiting their old homestead neighborhood very dangerous for any driver.

I later confided in my mother that, other than contributing my name on a deed, I had not done anything to really merit a one-third claim in the property or sale proceeds; I added that I had actually prepared a quitclaim in her favor many years ago, although I never filed it and that she should do with the proceeds what she felt best. I pointed out that I recently retired, have a lifetime annuity and that my wife will have her own retirement annuity in about eight years. Also, I am the seventh of eight siblings; two of my older siblings do a lot for my aging parents, and I suggested that those siblings are just as deserving (and might also have a greater need); It turns out, my mother is a great listener and made some changes that my wife probably does not like – but, I am good with my mother’s allocation.

Today, I met with my folks and a closing agent to sign the paperwork. It went fairly smoothly and quickly. Eventually, the closing agent left and then I had a few questions about calculating, reporting, and paying capital gains. At about that point, my father began working Mormonism into the conversation, even commenting about how I had been to the temple; he then talked about how he was asked to give a former bishop a blessing (specifically to allow the former bishop to die and join his wife) and mentioned how I had received many blessings and how they all came true.

I could not refrain from interrupting him with, “you know I don’t believe what you believe. I have told you many times that, to me, Joseph Smith is merely a 19th century version of David Koresh or Jim Jones – he is not what he claimed to be. Please try and respect my disbelief and I’ll try and respect your perspective.”

I added, “when you told me via email about my nephew being called for a mission in England, I was sad and disappointed. I have told you several times I regret having been a Mormon missionary; it was a waste of two years that would have been better spent finishing my undergraduate degree – or, even serving in the Peace Corp. But missions today are different than they were in the 1970’s’ and 1980’s – maybe he’ll have more a chance to provide real, utilitarian service – unlike what I did.” This would be the only grandchild of my parents’ many grandchildren who elected to go on a mission… he also happens to be my namesake.

His only response was, “you’re going to make your mother cry.”

That might not sound serendipitous to some. But, two deserving siblings will receive generous financial gifts from the sale. I was/am still included in a portion of the proceeds, too (although a couple of hundred grand less than if I had let them give me the full one-third interest).

When I first left Mormonism, my father commented, “it would have been better if you had died on your mission” not realizing how poignant those words were to me. The “Elder” who was my first companion did not survive his mission; he (and his companion at the time) was killed by an express train with only about three months remaining before he would have gone home. I wondered what that boy’s deceased parents would think about a statement like that, but shuddered at the reality that they would probably agree.

Although my parents were deeply saddened by my LDS exodus, they never shunned me or treated me poorly (other than a few heated discussions between my father and me). The brethren’s view is similar to the jihadist view – better to die (or even kill as) a miserable missionary than to die as a happy apostate. I’m sad that my dad was raised to believe such irrational nonsense.

My father will be 85 this summer, mother 82 (married 66 years in November); he knows his time is short. He is convinced in his belief system and believes his “keys of the Melchizedek priesthood” and his temple covenants can persuade a prodigal son to return to the family religion. He is wrong in that hope just as he is wrong in his belief system and his lifetime of Mormon leaders in whom he has misplaced his trust.

My serendipity – is knowing that both my father and mother love each one of their children, including me, and their multitude of grand children and great grandchildren; they have always been an example of integrity and hard work. My dad is the epitome of the dutiful, loving, provider. The only mother I know equal to or better than my mom was her own mother. They keep reminding me, and my siblings, that their time is short and that they have a nice estate that want to share with us. I would rather they have greater health and longer years than divide up their financial estate. No amount of money would ever buy me back into the fold/cult. I have always been proud of my father’s work ethic and his desire to share all he has with his children.

My primary sadness is that my parents (like their parents, and like their parents, etc.) were hoodwinked to their dying days by the cult of Joseph Smith. Mormonism has robbed too many parents of the ability to unconditionally love their own kids. However, fortunately for me, my serendipity is knowing that, although my folks will probably never understand why I left Mormonism, they have always been proud of their progeny – including me (and my other siblings would probably say especially me).

It’s bittersweet. But, it is what it is.


PS – my wife, a nevermo and from a former communist country, still wishes I would have just kept my mouth shut and taken the one-third. My preteen daughter never had to suffer through the childhood and youth indoctrination like I did; but, just to give her a glimpse into the Mormon myths and its peculiar origins, we’ll be reading “No Man Knows My History” together soon.

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Posted by: Done & Done ( )
Date: May 01, 2021 10:30AM

So glad you posted. Loved reading that. I would say you are too kind and too tempered to call that a "vent." Perhaps some really nasty words in all caps would help? Haha.

My own experience echoes yours. Only a few details need change.
But at the core, the relationship with my father, who was the most respected and loved man in the county, and ended as Stake Patriarch, was much like yours. The revelation of my apostasy was dramatic and traumatic. The rest of his life he could not stop trying to say "just the right thing" to resurrect my testimony. I used straightforward very blunt words as kindly as I could. We usually sparred with our eyes more than anything as we were both iron willed. Sound familiar?

Before he died he held me close and told me he was proud of me, and who I was and specifically he said he was not referring to my great success in life. That meant everything. I knew he was seeing the real me, and not some child that needed to be saved. He was a very deep man with a huge heart. Mormonism doesn't always ruin everything even if it tries.

My mother on the other hand is not really concerned about me. She just doesn't want to know the details and doesn't want anyone else to know about them either. Denial is an art with her. Still, she says I will be in the Celestial Kingdom with her as I was sealed to her and have no choice. If that gives her peace, then, whatever!


Thanks again for the story. Serendipity, like misery, loves company.

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Posted by: knotheadusc ( )
Date: May 01, 2021 11:28AM

Excellent post.

I served in the Peace Corps, but have never been Mormon. I think the Peace Corps is a hell of a lot more fun and useful than a mission is.

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Posted by: summer ( )
Date: May 01, 2021 11:50AM

You sound like a good son. :)

>> His only response was, “you’re going to make your mother cry.”

My response to that would be, "She's an adult. As such, she is in charge of her own feelings."

>> When I first left Mormonism, my father commented, “it would have been better if you had died on your mission”

I can tell you that I personally would never want to be a part of any church or organization that would cause a parent to say something like that. Never, never, never.

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Posted by: Soft Machine ( )
Date: May 01, 2021 03:15PM

I love that retort, Summer:" "She's an adult. As such, she is in charge of her own feelings." It sums up my own position so well. My mother used tears to try and manipulate us. We cottoned on pretty early to that one, but it's very widespread among some people. I would love to cry sometimes, but it was conditioned out of me (ironically, partly by my mother and partly by being a British man ;-).

"No I didn't make you cry. You did it all on your own."

And to Serendipity: you're a fine person. Glad you're here.

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Posted by: 1997resignee ( )
Date: May 01, 2021 04:52PM

Actually, my mom is one of the kindest, thoughtful, intelligent people I know. She is well aware of the tension that begins to pulsate once my dad starts engaging in Mormon speak. The only other mom I have known who was equal to or better than mine, was her own mother.

She and my dad married young - he was 19 and she was 16 and was 18 when the first of 8 children arrived. She was the mother of 7 at the age of 28 and then 1 more at age 33. My dad was in the Air Force, during which time he also had several side hustles - income tax preparation, real estate agent/broker, insurance agent/broker, and landlord. Upon retirement from the military, he earned a Finance degree at the University of Texas; my mom often read his textbooks onto tape so he could listen as he was out earning money on side hustles.

She is, and always has been, key to his financial success - working alongside of him running an office out of the home. When several of her peers (in and out of the Mormon church) were left by their husbands, she realized how at risk women like her were - as most of them had no assets, no credit, and no credit cards. As she took measures to protect her own financial future in the event such events ever happened to her, I remember telling her that I'd always be in her corner and that if something bad like that were to happen to her - I'd do everything in my power to ensure she had her fair share or more.

They're both intrinsically good, ethical, moral people to their cores; but, they happened to be born to multi-generaltional poor Mormon stock in central and south-central Utah. It's hard to give up one's cultural heritage.

My dad tends to interpret my apostasy from Mormonism as tantamount to rejecting him and our ancestors. My mom has always been more understanding and has never been judgmental.

There's no telling what they might have achieved without their own cultural inheritance of Mormonism.

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