I don't remember now how the story came up, but Grandpa Dominguez told me that when he was a kid, and his mother gave him money to put in the offering at church, he used to pocket the money to use for his own purposes.
In Grandpa's words, "I kept it."
Frightened at even hearing this story told, let alone pondering the risk involved in Grandpa's boyhood caper, I asked whether he ever got caught. Yes, Grandpa said, he did, and he got in trouble for it, but I don't remember now what exactly happened, or whether Grandpa even elaborated any further.
Imagining this scene from what would likely have been the early 1930's, somewhere in rural Southern California, and putting myself in my great-grandparents' shoes, I wonder what they thought of their son when they discovered his little scam. Did they worry about his character? Did they second-guess themselves as parents? Did they have trouble trusting him again?
Of course, it's possible the answer is none of the above, as these were poor people, likely more concerned with their children's daily bread than their children's weekly tithe, but I can't help but wonder if, in that moment, Mrs. Dominguez asked herself where she had gone wrong.
I don't know how long my great-grandmother lived, but I hope she lived long enough to see my grandfather become the person I remember, who lived a life of decency and faithfulness, who never earned much money, but never failed to provide for his family. who nearly gave his life for his country but never boasted or scorned others on account of it, and who is mourned today by great-grandsons who have no memory of him, but look forward to meeting him in heaven.
Great-Grandma, three generations now thank you for catching your son pocketing his tithe, and for setting him straight when he needed it.
We just hope you didn't lose too much sleep over it at the time.
When we meet up there someday, can you tell me this story?