…Momma and I went to church one Sunday when I was four. She took me to the nursery and told me to stay there. But the children in the nursery were crying and I started to cry. A man who smelled like Daddy and cigars carried me into the church and sat me beside Momma. It was cold in the church and I snuggled up to her soft mink coat. Momma smelled like perfume, I think she called it Arpege.
The organ began to play and I sat quietly in the pew. Momma stood to sing “Oh, Jesus, I have promised” and I knew these words because Momma sang them around the house every day.
After church Momma took me by the hand. We walked outside the church and I knew we had steps to go down. “Five steps down,” Momma said and she sounded cross. I carefully held her hand and counted down the five concrete steps. I tried not to make a sound with my patent leather Mary Janes. Momma and I kept turning corners. This was not the way to the parking lot. I put out my free hand and felt the bricks of the church wall as we passed by. Something was wrong.
Suddenly, Momma stopped and said, “You should have stayed in the nursery. I wanted to be by myself in church to listen to the sermon and read the Bible without interruption.” Momma grabbed me hard…
That night Momma was over being mad. She read Billy and me some books like “A Child’s Garden of Verses” and “Rikki Tikki Tavi.” I was well into adulthood before I understood what triggered my mother’s anger.