Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • My father is not Harvard educated but he is "Harvard-on-the-hill" educated -- that's what the natives call our local community college; an enormous former hotel, high atop a hill, overlooking Lake Champlain. In order for Dad to get a job as a corrections officer back in the 60's, he had to achieve a two-year degree from a community college. My mother jokes that she did all his homework for him and I believe it. It's not that he's unable or unintelligent -- it's that he was working two jobs to support three young kids and his stay-at-home wife (that's what everyone did back in the 60's, right?). He hardly had time to sleep and eat, let alone write papers.

    In the lens of twenty-twelve, my father is not an educated man. Educated on life, yes. School books and theory? No.

    So, when he found out he had cancer, he naturally searched for a reason and he turned to his religion for those answers. Why? Why me? I've worked so hard all my life. I've never hurt anyone. I've minded my business. I've raised ten kids -- some of them not even biologically mine. What did I do to deserve this?

    I still get a lump in my throat when I think about my father and the questions he asked of his Creator that day; but, the answer he received nearly kills me.

    His Uncle John died from cancer many years earlier. My father had been out the night before, drinking heavily as he was apt to do as a young man, and was too hungover to go to his funeral. My father confessed his fears to me: "Bean, I think I got the cancer because I was a drunk and didn't go to his funeral. I think this is God's way of punishing me for that. I'll never forgive myself for not going that day..."

    What do you say to your father in a moment like this? All I could think was, Nicely played, Catholicism. When my father needs hope and comfort, you've given him pain and guilt. Way to take advantage of those who only know superstition and faith and put it all in your hands...

    "Dad -- don't be silly. Of course God isn't punishing you. This is just a speed bump -- something scary that happened to you and you'll fight it and you'll win. You were a kid and you made a mistake. You have to forgive yourself for what happened that day."

    I think I died a little inside that day and I've never been more sure in all my life that there is no God.
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.