Freedomlover’s post about her dad’s letter got me thinking about my dad, in fact, it sounds like it could have been written by my dad. Every once in a while it really hits me that he is no longer here to talk to. There is so much I would like to talk to him about. Unlike most of you, I wouldn’t have been afraid to approach him with questions or doubts. He encouraged questions, research and deep conversations. He was definitely not your average jw.
He died in 1978…so it’s been a very long time. I still miss him terribly….and I thought I’d tell you a little bit about him.
I did not have the negative kind of childhood experience many have in the organization. My parents loved me unconditionally and I never doubted that for a moment. I had one spanking in my whole life…administered by my dad…and he cried. I was an only child of jw parents who went together for 10 years because the society strongly discouraged marriage during that period. They married in 1949, and I came along in 1952. They tried to have other children…my mom had many miscarriages, and I had a brother, my dad’s namesake, who lived only a day and a half. I don’t think they ever fully recovered from that…and they were extremely protective of me. They often lamented the 10 years they had waited to marry…
Arvid Moody was born in Boston, MA in 1910, the son of young Swedish immigrants. They became Bible Students about the time he was born. He was always brilliant. He got straight A’s from Kindergarten through College, not even so much as a single A-. He graduated from Wentworth Institute in Boston with an Associates Degree in Architecture. It was the Depression, and projects were scarce. Since work was hard to come by, one of his teachers from Wentworth recommended him to Stone & Webster. It is an Engineering firm, not an Architectural firm… but he had had some courses in engineering at Wentworth…and he was a mathematical genius, so it was a good fit. There he stayed until he was no longer able to work…some 38 years later. He designed electrical and nuclear power stations. He was asked to work on the Manhattan Project (pretty amazing since all he had was a 2 year degree)…and he said no because he was a jw. He knew Governor Volpe from MA because he went to school with him. The Governor tried to recruit him into politics…but dad said no… he was a jw.
Dad was baptized in 1929. He always held a position in the congregation…and when the “elder arrangement” started, of course, he was an elder. He was well respected. He designed many kingdom halls including our own in Hyde Park, MA. He was always in charge of the sound department at assemblies.
Dad was an amazing human being. I didn’t fully realize that while he was alive. I wish I had. I believe he would have left the organization, had he known the stuff that we are privy to now. He taught me how to question…and dig deep. If I didn’t understand something that was taught by the organization, he encouraged me to research. He told me that if I didn’t understand and fully believe it, then I had no business going door to door to try to convince others. Ultimately, that was what gave me the freedom to choose to leave the organization. Sometimes I am asked how someone so intelligent could be a jw. I’ve come to the conclusion that it has nothing to do with intelligence. If someone with the mental ability that my dad had could be deceived, then I think almost anyone could be, given the right circumstances. I think I stayed in longer because I figured that if jws did not have the truth he would have figured that out.
Dad was an Architect, Engineer, Artist, Musician (played the clarinet & piano) When he was young, he played tennis…and beat a high ranking professional player on several occasions. He did all that while he was a jw. I can’t even imagine what he could have accomplished without the watchtower around his neck.
Our family on my dad’s side was very small. He had only one sibling. My dad’s mother was “of the anointed”. His father wasn’t. His sister, Vera, married Andy Wagner, a long time bethelite who was an announcer on WBBR. They called him the man with the golden voice. They were in circuit and district work, finally ending in Alaska, where Uncle Andy died. Our home was always full of love. The door was always open and the coffee pot was always on. Visitors dropped by on a daily basis.
He never settled for anything but excellence. That was hard when I was growing up… because he didn’t grasp the possibility that I would have any grades less than A. Tough standards to live up to…. But he firmly believed in education. If I had homework…I could miss a meeting… or service etc. I had weekly art classes starting at the age of 8 because he saw some raw talent in my work. His attitude about education was not well received in the congregation, but he never backed down…and few would even attempt to challenge him. In first year high school French I brought home a C for the last semester. He made me go to summer school because of that C. He was always there to help with homework and study. Even at work, whatever he was doing, he would stop to take my phone call and help with whatever I needed.
He was determined that I would go to college. I was very conflicted on that one… but finally agreed to go. I’ll never forget that day. My art teacher convinced me…it was May of my senior year. I called my dad at work and told him of my decision. He was soooooo happy. And I loved college. Dad spent the day with me in classes on Father-Daughter Day. He was so proud and happy I thought he would burst.
It didn’t take long for the pressure from jw friends, and the rush for everyone to find someone to marry started to kick in. There was the fear that if you didn’t marry early you wouldn’t get to marry. There were far more girls and guys. There was also the fear that if I had a college education no jw guy would have any interest in me. I had already turned down several proposals by this time…but even at age 18 I felt the clock ticking. God, that seems so stupid now… I would like to go back in time and slap me. I met someone at an assembly and he proposed two weeks later. I accepted. Sheesh what an idiot I was. Of course, he didn’t want me to finish college but to get married as soon as possible. My dad was beside himself. He begged me to wait. But I was stubborn…and of legal age to marry with or without his permission. In the end, he gave in to the inevitable…but right up till the last minute was trying to talk me out of it. Just before he walked me down the aisle, he told one of my bridesmaids that if I showed any signs of changing my mind that she was to let me know that it was ok. Whatever the fallout, he would stand behind me and get me out of there. I went through with it, and we moved clear across the country to California. I know that was extremely hard on my parents. I was homesick, so thankfully we only stayed a little over a year.
I really put that poor man through his paces. I wish I had made the most of the time I had with him…and realized what an amazing father I had.
It was only a few years into my marriage that he started to become ill. His kidneys were starting to fail. Knowing he was a jw, his doctor tried to control the disease initially by diet. That worked for a short time, but inevitably he had to go on dialysis. His mental capabilities were starting to be effected. The dr. told us that the poisons in his system were damaging brain cells. The subject of transplant came up, and mom scrambled to research the subject in the society’s publications. She found, of course, that it was not acceptable for a jw to have a transplant, in fact, it was the equivalent of cannibalism. Transplant was out, so, dad continued his dialysis treatments for a number of years, and it was like watching him die in slow motion. This brilliant man, who had designed nuclear power stations, played Mozart & Beethoven on the Piano , and who had never lost faith in me… was no longer capable of carrying on a simple conversation. My mother was beside herself. He was her world… and she lost him by inches. There was one crisis after another. Mom’s health suffered. We thought she was just exhausted, but she turned out to have a rare form of cancer. Her doctor told her he felt it was due to the enormous stress she was under because of my dad’s condition.
Their congregation was wonderful to them. They were there to help with cooking cleaning…even taking care of my infant daughter. They took dad to and from the hospital for his treatments…they even helped to bathe him. With both of them so awfully sick, and with an infant daughter to care for, I was pulled in many directions… so I don’t know what I would have done without them. It was a tribute to how much they were loved by so many people. I am infinitely grateful for all their help. This went on for nearly a year. My mom died first. Dad lingered for another year.
It is amazing to me that so much time has passed since then. Mom died in 1977, and dad in 1978. So much has happened since. I had another child, a boy…a grandchild they never knew they had. They would have been fantastic grandparents, and my children have missed out on so much by not knowing them. I divorced, and left the organization. I now work as an Architectural rep…and I call on Stone & Webster. I’ve actually taught a seminar on Glazing Systems at the company dad worked for for so many years. My company is bidding a job on expanding a High School that my dad designed before he went to work for Stone & Webster. Life goes on. In spite of the limitations the organization put on him, he left his mark. I can still drive by buildings and homes he designed, and there are still some people in the Architectural and Engineering communities here who remember him fondly and with respect.
Dad would have loved the internet. I can picture him being a fixture here…really digging his heels in. But he died before that was possible. He was only 68 when he died. He would have been 96 this year. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my parents.. and for some reason, although I was very close to my mother and I miss her terribly…I miss my dad even more. So dad, this is for you.