In therapy, I've been asked how far back I can remember. The first image is of me, holding onto the edge of a coffee table, trying to stand up on my own. There were a few old people sitting on the couch, leaning forward, and talking to me in annoying 'baby talk.' I wanted nothing to do with them. I knew that I didn't like old people. They were ugly, and they tried to control me. They smelled like a combination of moth balls and raw ass. I was picked up and carried around against my will. I cried, because I couldn't get away from them.
My Grand Dad, who was my father's father, played this neat little game with me, when I sat on his lap. He would have me touch his nose, and when I did, he would pop his dentures out of his mouth like a machine, and make me laugh. Sometimes, he would just take out his dentures and let me play with them.
On Sundays, we all got dressed up, and went to this awful place called, 'church,' with my mother's family. The wooden pews were hard and uncomfortable. When sitting there, my feet barely touched the edge of the seat, making me very aware of how little I was, compared to everyone else around me. Sometimes, I stood up and hung onto the back of the pew to have a good look around, at what was going on. I stared at all the ugly, unhappy people, as they sang ugly songs. There were blank stares and frowns on their faces, as the angry man at the front yelled and screamed at us. He told us all that we were bad. We were all born in this world as bad people.
I wanted to get out of there. I wanted to go home and play, or watch cartoons. This was expressed to my mother quite often. She stared ahead, like the rest of them. I thought maybe she couldn't hear me. She would pick me up, and we would go to the nursery. If we were going there, I knew I was about to get a spanking, and would cry all the way there. The nursery had a strong smell of urine, from the mattresses in the cribs. I was placed in a crib as I was being spanked.
There were always certain songs that were sung as they passed around the offering plate. The concept of putting money in it was particularly curious to me. Somehow, I knew that these people didn't have any money. The act of putting money in that plate was difficult for them to do, yet they were obligated to do it. It's assumed that children don't understand certain things, but I knew what poor was, and they were poor.
Once, when the music was over, the preacher scolded everyone in the congregation, because he felt that they, as a group, didn't tithe enough money. He demanded that there had to be people in the room that could be more generous, and he passed the plate around, again. He called one man out by name. His face became very red. He was wearing a white dress shirt, that needed to be ironed. His hair needed a trim, but it was combed in an attempt to look properly dressed. The preacher instructed two deacons to stand next to him. He was ordered to get his wallet out of his pocket, and put more money in the plate. Everyone was watching him. Reluctantly, he opened his wallet, and what few dollars he had, were put in the plate. He looked angry, and ashamed, as he sat there quietly. This made me angry at the preacher.
There's a vague memory of looking out the window from the back seat of a car, and seeing that we were passing over an old worn-out concrete bridge. Whenever I saw this bridge, I knew that we were on our way to the dairy to get icecream.
Somewhere in all of this, was a weekly visit to a graveyard, to stand at the grave of Clarence, the brother of my Grandma Mary. I thought that all of this had to be done every week in order to qualify to go to Heaven!