Remembering the forced prophesies brought back the image of the man who orchestrated them. I’ll call him Brother NY.
He was large in every way. In my memory he is 6’6”, broad shouldered, and large featured. Everything about his face was big except his eyes, which were half moon slits surrounded by laugh lines. His smile split his large head the moment any child or baby came into view and he always seemed genuinely ‘pleased as punch’ to see everyone. His laugh was big and his voice was big, booming and deep.
I knew him as an elderly man who could barely hear and needed a cane but still had a huge presence. He rarely preached but when he did, it was wild, hellfire and brimstone. His normally smiling face became stone cold serious and terrifying. He actually shouted so loudly that I usually did not understand what he was talking about. It triggered a fight-flight response in me and I just shut down.
Later on, he would boom out from his bench near the front of the tabernacle and call all the children or teens up to prophesy from there. I can’t imagine anyone even thinking of not doing what he said.
His wife was his opposite. While Brother NY sat near the front on all occasions, his wife sat at the far back balcony where my shy family sat so we could not be seen. I don’t think I ever heard her speak. I don’t ever remember seeing her smile outright. She was like the Mona Lisa with a hint of smile just under the surface, but so controlled and serene you could never guess if she hid a deep well of joyous mirth or an ache of endless pain.
Not only was Sister NY quiet and still, she was short and impeccably dressed. Her hairdo and shoes put her over five feet tall. Her hair was always piled high on her head – very high- and covered entirely by a blue wrap, a little like a turban. Marg Simpson never looked strange to me. I used to stare at it in church and wish I could undo the pin and see the obviously thick hair underneath. I also dreamed of throwing balloons filled with pudding down on the congregation but wisely did neither.
The people of my parent’s generation speak of this couple with respect and affection. I have no doubt they deserved it. I think they both sincerely loved people. They fascinated me, but I was too shy to get to know them.