Like the rose bush, another of my earliest memories is also an unhappy one. One afternoon, long before I began to attend school, I was startled from my reveries by my angry mother, snatching me up from whatever innocent pursuit I had been indulging and rushing me into the living room. There she called my attention to a small section of wall beside the piano where I found my own name inscribed with pencil, in a waivery and childish hand.
“Did you do that?” she inquired. (Across the street, one of the neighbors said, “do what?”) Terrified, I shook my head in the negative. “Don’t lie to me!” she demanded, and proceeded to thrash me. After a few seconds of vigorous corporal punishment, I was transported across the room to another spot where the windowsill had been likewise embellished. “Did you do that?” she once again inquired. Again (having apparently not learned my lesson) I shook my head. “Don’t lie to me!” Thrash thrash thrash!
As children often do, I told and retold this tale all throughout my childhood years. My mother defended herself against this charge by (a) questioning if I was all that sure that I had not, in fact, written my name on that wall, (b) suggesting that she was perfectly justified in accusing me, since I was a precocious child and had been well tutored by my sister , and (c) denying that this episode had ever happened.
One day we were all sitting around the table, and I was (once again) recounting the story of my unjust punishment when my brother, Daran, began snickering and finally confessed that he had been the actual culprit. The truth at last! I appealed, but the miscreant received no punishment. It would have been difficult, I have to admit, since he was thirty-something years old by then.