The Baptism of Oma Ray by Derick Strode
Because “religion” is so ingrained into many people’s lives, childhood thoughts such as this are extremely common:
I grew up knowing Aunt Oma was going to hell. Mom and Dad often talked about it in the front seat of our Thunderbird on the way home from church.
The author doesn’t seem to concerned with religion even though his family is. He seems neutral, which proves to serve the reader well in creative nonfiction.
I loved this piece because it seems completely honest; he characterizes the “old aunt” well, given the usage of the word “spunk”, which is one of my personal favorites. It was sort of endearing, the way Oma had a new calmness to her; it was as if she was now at peace. I pictured her in white, even when he disclosed the fact that she was wearing a navy blue skirt, I kept her in white.
He constructed the setting nicely. I envisioned fireflies and all sorts of bugs, not in the gross way, but in the still, country, cricket humming, beautiful way. It seemed a bit baffling that Oma would wait so long to get saved and even go so far as to ask God why he would not save her. Maybe she was waiting on the right time. Maybe she knew that at 80 she would be ready. It was Oma’s choice, and by her speech and actions described, it was sacredly special to her. ;
We then see a shift that reveals what the piece is really about: the author’s relationship with his father. He is witnessing his father age, and is coping with the very apparent changes that make the reality of our mortality ever present. He cherishes his father; admires him. He had become so used to his father’s deterioration that he was moved by the clarity of his singing. I do think that he should of named the piece differently; it just does not seem to come full circle. This could be an excerpt though. Or the author may have wanted to sequence it that way, because the baptism led him to share that special moment with his father. Overall the writing is very inviting and it is easy to be present with his family in his writing.