An offer my father can refuse.

adriana suriano
4 min readOct 2, 2022

I stood at the back of the catholic church. My atheist husband to my right. My anxious father to my left. My dark navy suede adidas soles lifted by the back wall.

Breathe in love ………….. Breathe out peace, i silently tell myself. My eyes closed until my father says, “Why the hell is this mass taking so long?” We always leave after communion. My father hates waiting for all the other cars to exit the parking lot, so we leave early enough. We are always first.

“Dad, they have to sing the last song.”

I take another deep breath…… …. Breathe in love…. ……. Breathe out peace.

“Hurry up,” my father jars me awake. I follow him outside of the church.

This was planned for weeks. My father requested, and was denied by the catholic archdioceses, to build a marble bench to honor her. My father would repeatedly say this is so no one would forget my mother. I was always perplexed by my father’s statement. She was my fucking mother. How would i forgot her?

The archdioceses gave their response in an email. “Thank you for our generous offer to put new carpet and tile near your mother’s crypt in order to build the marble bench. That will interfere with the uniformity of the layout. So, we must respectfully decline. However, we can build a custom wood bench for only $2150. Your mom’s name with a plaque on it too.”

“That dirty piece of shit carpet? That piece of shit cheap wood bench.” My father said after i read him the response from the very kind and honestly thoughtful response from the archdioceses.

My father refused to take the county’s archdioceses decision as the final word. “You must not have explained it right in your email.”

“Dad, I read you the email. You said it sounded good.”

Today in the rain my father watched me as I stood next to Father Anthony after the 10:00 am mass.

“Excuse me? Father Anthony. Yes. Ummmmm. I am so glad you are feeling better and out of the hospital,” my father glaring at me wondering when I was going to get to his brilliant idea.

Father Anthony puts his arm around my waist. It feels awkward. Is a priest supposed to have his arm around my waist like the way my husband does?

“It’s with prayers from good parishioners like yourself that got me well.”

Father Anthony gave me a full-on side hug.

“Well…. Ummm ……. Yes Father Anthony. You……Ummm …. you performed the private mass for my beloved mother when she passed away three years ago,” My father still glaring at me.

“And…… well……, yes, she is buried at the catholic cemetery off of route 38.”

“She is always looking at you from Heaven,” Father Anthony reminded me.

“Yes of course Father Anthony. Well……. we………well…… my father who is right here wanted to build a marble bench or have tiles with her name and photo built near her crypt.”

Father Antony finally looks at my father. I try to find my husband and imagine he bolted to the car.

“Well, that sounds like a marvelous idea!”

“Well yes Father Anthony, that’s a great idea, right?” My father finally opening his fucking mouth.

Father Anthony still has his arm around my waist.

“Yes Father Anthony. Well ……….. the archdioceses has not really been on board with this.”

“Well, I don’t see why not.” Father Anthony has his eyes wide open behind his designer glasses.

“You make the catholic cemetery more beautiful through your generous donation, and well yes let’s all get together for lunch to discuss this further.”

My father shakes his hand with a big smile. “I would love to take you to lunch Father Anthony.”

I pressed the blue up arrow button sending a text to my husband. “I just pimped myself out to Father Anthony. And I’m pretty sure he tried to feel me up.”

My husband was waiting just a few steps away. “Honey, check you text messages,” I say tersely. My atheist husband checks his phone and mouths I am so sorry.

“Now we cannot wait too long to schedule lunch with Father Anthony. You know i bet God told him he needs food to consider my request.” My father starts laughing. I usually laugh when my father laughs because we find the same stupid shit funny. This time i quietly crossed the street to our car silent the entire way to my father’s house.

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adriana suriano

i am a first generation italian-american who grew up in southern new jersey. Life is amazingly beautiful and devastating. Sometimes in the same day.