Carol Balizet, founder of Home in Zion Ministries and author of Born in Zion, was my mother’s mother. I called her Giggy. My grandmother was adored by her followers and unheard of by other Christians.
Although her apocalyptic novel The Seven Last Years had been a best seller in the 1970s, by the earliest years I can remember, most Christian book stores didn’t stock what she wrote. Today her cult is gone, as is her memory, and she lives in a high-care nursing home, frequently on a feeding tube. She has been in this diminished state for years.
The family has mixed feelings about her, with some pitying her current health and others too angry about all the harm she caused to show kindness to what remains of her. I’ve lived close enough to visit any time these past six years, but I have no plans to do so. I do have plans to attend her funeral someday.
None of her old friends stay in contact. She was good at attracting people and making friends, but awful at keeping them. She burned through friends faster in her seventies than I did in my twenties. I remember these friends and the explosive endings of these friendships.
First there was Bonnie, who worked alongside Giggy at home births. She had been a true believer in Zion birth, spiritual home birth with no medical or physical intervention. She attended countless births without compensation and, knowing my grandmother, without thanks.
Talking to my mom a few years ago, she recalled how my grandmother wrote in Born in Zion that they had no negative outcomes. She remarked, “I think dead babies count as a negative.”