Apostate Behavior: Chapter 2 Chicago

Copyright © Bruce A. Holt. All Rights Reserved. (Comments are welcome!)

After our two and a half years in Birmingham, Alabama we moved Lisle, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago (about 30 miles west of downtown Chicago). I was about to start 8th grade. Two neighborhood boys had heard (from who?) there was a boy their age moving in and they came over to introduce themselves. One, Ron, became a good friend.

I was somewhat of a novelty, as were my siblings, at school. Our family was one of two in Lisle who belonged to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Peet family was the other. A couple other “Mormon” families moved in and back out during our years there but our family and the Peet’s remained, ours until after my high school graduation.

These years are very fondly remembered by me. Yes, I was teased mercilessly and bullied by a few because of my Southern accent (at first, my accent now is rather nondescript), my shyness, and my religious beliefs. But I had good friends. Several still remain in contact with me after all these years!

The LDS Ward we attended met in Naperville, just to the west of Lisle, and was titled the West Suburban Second Ward of the Chicago South Stake. A “Ward” is what Mormons call a congregation. It is led by a Bishop and his two counselors. Several Wards in a local region are collectively called a “Stake”, led by a Stake President and his two counselors. The Stake also has a High Council consisting of 12 High Priests (men). The Stake Presidency at the time and subsequent, just before we moved back to Utah, consisted of several men who eventually moved up in the ranks of the overall church hierarchy, one becoming one of the Twelve Apostles and is now, at this writing, a member of the First Presidency (First Counselor to the President/Prophet). His name is Dallin H. Oaks (any initials in an authority’s name are important, it seems).

The Stake Presidency and High Council structures will become important to my story later, hence my attention to this detail now.

Anyway, it was in Lisle and the Suburban Second Ward that I progressed through the Aaronic (Lesser) Priesthood (young boys ages 12 through 18) “offices ” of Deacon (12-13), Teacher (14-15), and Priest (16-18, sometimes older). This took me through high school graduation in 1973.

The Chicago area gave me a peek at non-LDS scenarios, situations, and ideas. I participated in some academic extracurricular activities, such as an after-school Biochemistry Seminar, membership by special invitation to a special Boy Scout Explorer Post sponsored by Standard Oil. There was a core of students that got invited from regional high schools. Five from my high school, including me. Some of the others from my school were part of the “cool kids” and so, by association, I was able to expand my circle of friends from mostly outcasts to include some of the cool kids. That was helpful to a very shy kid, as was I.

My experiences in the Aaronic Priesthood in the Birmingham Branch first and then the West Suburban Second Ward included leadership. I usually was “called” to be a counselor in the Presidency of the Quorum and before being “advanced” to the next office would wind up being the president. Except for the Priest Quorum. The Bishop of the Ward is the president of that quorum and he has a group leader with two assistants. I progressed the same through the Priest Quorum as I did in the others, leaving finally as Group Leader just before we moved back to Utah.

As a Priest, there were times we were asked to partner up with the missionaries on “splits”, meaning the two missionaries (missionaries are usually found in companionships of two) would split up and each would take a Priest. We would go to teaching appointments but would also be involved in “tracting”, i.e. going door to door. This gave us a little glimpse into missionary life, in which we were expected to take part at age 19.

Which age was just around the corner and followed the move alluded to earlier.

I graduated 14th in my class and a member of the National Honor Society. I had been accepted to BYU (my ACT score was 28, so acceptance was no problem) and I had a good interview with my Bishop (worthiness interviews are required for acceptance). Near the end of my Senior year of high school, Dad got a job offer in Salt Lake City, Utah he decided to accept.

So, after graduation, my Dad took my three younger brothers, loaded a Toyota Corolla with stuff he would need for the new job, and off they went, to pave the way for the rest of us after the house sold. Once sold, we loaded the station wagon, three dogs (miniature schnauzers), and stuff we would need at the new house and drove to Utah, Mom and I trading off as drivers.

Our new home was only temporary, being a rental, while our new house was being built just a few blocks north in Centerville. I wouldn’t see that house finished until after serving a mission for the Church. But first, I went to Provo, Utah to attend my first semester at BYU (Brigham Young University). I moved in with an uncle and his family in Pleasant Grove, Utah. That helped me save some money that could go toward my upcoming mission.

Holiday break

It’s the Holidays in the USA. Thanksgiving was November 22nd. Christmas is coming up soon. Veteran’s Day, November 11th, will be remembered for a while. It’s the day my Dad died. This year.

It was a little sooner than expected, but not totally unexpected. Back in July my wife and I spent a week with him. The day we packed up to return home we found him face down between his toilet/shower area and the vanity in his bathroom, quivering and not very cognizant of his surroundings. Well, okay. I found him. It was a little unnerving.

911 was called and the EMT’s arrived. Dad was not very responsive. They got him turned over and took his vitals. The got him on a stretcher and into the ambulance. Mary and I drove over to the hospital Emergency area, in our van. My next to youngest brother and his wife arrived shortly thereafter.

Eventually he was admittied and spent a week being treated for pneumonia and sepsis. Then, released. Mary and I went home before he was released.

Anyway, he had another episode in August. Then, after moving in with my sister and her husband early in September, Dad had one more episode late in October. In the meantime he was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Poor guy!

This most recent visit to the hospital took him to November 10th. He was released that day into hospice care at my sister’s house. Meanwhile, I drove from Northern Colorado to Northern Utah to see Dad and, probably, say goodbye. It turns out I was right. He died, peacefully, the next evening. His funeral was November 17th.

My siblings and I worked together to make all the arrangements. We work well together. No jealousies or other negative relationship issues that other families might experience. I love my siblings and their excellent spouses.

So it’s been just over a month since Dad’s death and just under for his funeral. I have contemplated much during this time. No, my religious views have not changed. I am still convinced religion is just man made myth. And now we head into a time set aside for joy, happiness, and fun.

And that’s what I will experience! I am happy Mary and I got to spend that week with Dad back in July. I am happy I got to be there with him when he died. I am very happy my siblings and their spouses are the caliber of people they are. I am glad my in-laws are also.

This holiday season will be joyful, happy, and fun! For us. In years to come, it will also be memorable.

May yours be filled with happiness, joy, and fun, as well!