Bomb

Sometime in the late 1970s, on a military base in Germany, an MP came to my father’s church, and said a bomb threat had been called in, and services would have to be canceled. A certain high-ranking general who would later be infamous attended the services, and it’s worth mentioning how much protocol my father violated when he answered, “It’s a good day to die,” and went on with his services. The general came and no bomb went off and apparently the MP never reported the incident, or, in any case, my father never got in trouble. We used to beg him to tell this story at dinner parties. The ridiculous climax of “It’s a good day to die.” We thought it was courage.

Only recently has it occurred to me that my father chose for all of us that day. For the Army and the general and the Military Police and his own young wife and two children. He chose for his entire congregation. Perhaps he would argue that we could have found no happier place to die than in service to god.

Despite the fact that he lives four minutes from me, I haven’t had a conversation with him in months. Sometimes I think about those of you who have lost parents and I’m ashamed of my resistance. But here’s the thing, my choice has value. I have value. My love has value. And I see this situation from a parent’s vantage as well as a child’s. I would never excommunicate my child. Even if he were a republican. Even if he were evangelical. He is different from me, with rights of his own.

Lately, I’ve wondered if my father made an announcement from the pulpit about the bomb threat, and let the congregation decide whether to go or stay. Maybe my family rewrote the story to seem more brazen. More puritanical. Maybe we edited out his humanistic impulses because that’s not the father we knew.

5 thoughts on “Bomb”

  1. There should be no shame, if your resistance is based in integrity. If your choice is a considered thing, not rash.

    I stepped away from my father, not because of him, but for him and myself. It didn’t matter if anyone else understood; it mattered that he and I did. With his recent passing, I am relieved to know I am not regretful; it wasn’t an easy choice to make.

    Your choice has value, you have value, your love has value. I agree. Completely.

  2. I’m sorry about your dad, Rebecca. That’s hard.

    I would rather be friends than not. Get along than hold myself apart. I have learned, over the last year, how dangerous that impulse can prove. Boundaries. I still have to work hard to keep them. I re-evaluate constantly because I hope, too, to have no regrets about my choices.

    1. Thank you, Jill.

      A rash choice is an easy thing, a considered choice, not so much. I’ve no doubt that yours was no easier than mine. With regard to boundaries, I, too, had to learn to put them in place, not only for my own peace of mind, but for that of others, as well. Constant re-evaluation is a good thing, a necessary thing. It keeps you aware. It does no one any good to lose awareness. Having read, through your posts, of how you are striving to put those boundaries in place, I’m sure it will get easier, and that your impulses will be less “dangerous”.

      Best to you, as always.

  3. I’m constantly rethinking what to do (or not) about my dad. He lives a mile away and a world away.

    When I become motherless, I made more of an effort, and for a while, he did too. But the bottom line is that it’s always about him. This is so the opposite of my mother, that I generally find it too painful to deal with him. Having to protect myself all the time.

    I too worry about having regrets when he’s gone. I settle for the once or twice yearly holiday get together and mostly take care of myself.

  4. I haven’t had parents since I was about 12/13. They are still living, and I even have a cordial relationship with them at this point, but they each in their own way broke that parental bond. It’s an odd thing to realize that you’re parents may be cool people, but they were horrible parents, and then figure out how to forgive them for that.

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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