In this book of sayings, I have tried to capture my messed-up state during my life. There are many ways I could have presented this information. I have decided to present my life-long predicament in the form of maxims. I at first wanted to write a narrative book on how I was messed up, but decided instead to express my sentiments in these sayings. These maxims indicate the messed-up state of myself, my family, and my community. My family, school, church, and community messed me up. The society has also contributed to this messed-up condition. There have been many situations that made it difficult for me. I list only a few of them here.
These sayings came from different sources. Most of these maxims are right off the top of my head. All these sayings are basic to my condition. But in these sayings, I also consider ways to have an improved outlook, how to be a success in life, how to live and be productive; as well as the outlook that was responsible for my condition. First, I wanted to suggest some of the things that caused my life to be chaotic.
First of all, my mother dressed me in a dress and pigtails until I was approximately three years of age. I had two sisters a few years older, so she didn’t bother to buy me clothes, she simply dressed me in their old hand-me-down dresses, and didn’t bother to get me a haircut. It was shortly after World War II, and it was in the shadow of the Depression. Everything was scarce during the Depression. We all were used to lack. We also lived in a rural area. Our house sat at the end of a three-mile trail, there was no road to our house. I assumed my mother thought she could dress me any way she wanted, since few people dared to venture back that far off the beaten path. She probably never thought about her behavior one way or the other. My mother had her own problems and was cold and unaffectionate. She would beat me with whatever she could find. In her mind beating me was the way to raise me properly. She would work me all day in the hot sun from sunup to sunset, and wouldn’t sometimes even cook a decent meal. After plowing all day, I would eat a plate of beans and cornbread. Usually I would have a glass of buttermilk with it. I didn’t have anything for breakfast. I did have the same beans, cornbread, and milk for lunch. Obviously, such meals every day would result in a body that is undernourished and underdeveloped, and a brain in the same condition.
Second of all, I had an obvious speech impediment that my parents weren’t prepared to deal with. They couldn’t afford speech therapy, and there was probably none around for miles. The school didn’t even have any. This set me back, because if you can’t express yourself you will be forever behind the eight ball. We had no electricity and no road until first grade. We got butane gas when I was a freshman in high school, a telephone when I was in college, and running water many years after I left college.
I never cared for my hygiene as a child: I didn’t clean myself properly, cut my toenails or fingernails, brush my teeth, and didn’t do many other simple things. In many ways I was like a feral child.
Third, it did much damage to my psyche while observing my brother trying to cut my sister’s throat when I was four years of age. He tried and would have been successful had my mother not threw her fat arm around my sister’s neck to shield the blade. He didn’t cut her throat, but my mother had to have twenty stiches in her arm. If he had cut her in the throat there is no way she could have lived. She would have had to be taken in a wagon through a pig trail to the main highway, and then taken to a hospital in a nearby city. She would have been dead on arrival. Somehow, I never forgot this incident. It left an indelible imprint on my memory and consciousness.
Fourth, my isolated condition prevented me from having many friends, and further led me to not develop good speech patterns. Even family members rarely talked to me. It also caused me to have difficulty making friends at school because of lack of development of my speech. I never had much normal playtime with other children. I never learned how to relate to other people. Other children picked on and bullied me. Teachers simply saw me as retarded and uneducable.
Fifth, my father worked out of town, and could not serve as a role model or caregiver. Most kids have a grandparent, who can serve as a surrogate parent, giving them the necessary support. Only one of my grandparents was alive, my paternal grandmother, and she were unaffectionate and lacked sympathy. She was not involved with my family. My dad never talked much around me, so I never knew what was on his mind. As I got older my father would take me places, but would insist that I stayed in the car while he visited.
Sixth, in second grade, my mother did something that had a lasting effect on my childhood and later years. It was cold in East Texas around November. For some reason I didn’t have a coat to wear to school. My mother made me wear my sister’s old hand-me-down coat to school. I did not want to wear it but had no choice. It could not be mistaken for anything but a girl’s coat. It was red with big black buttons, and trimmed in Black. The younger kids called me a sissy, and the older children simply stared.