I am the evil child. The sole child of three who cannot remember bible scriptures verbatim or cite their chapters and verses when quizzed daily. I am the child who had once sneezed while my sister was saying grace. I am the child who once fell asleep during my father’s sermon. I am the child who was regularly tied up and gagged underneath the dining room table.
I used to contemplate what the members of his congregation would think of my father if they knew about what took place in his home. I wondered if they knew that he would start his “teachings” citing Proverbs 13:24, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son…” - I forget the rest of the passage - then beat me into oblivion. I wondered if they knew that he gave my brother and sister $1 for each switch they could find – the same switches they would use to flog me with once I regained consciousness from my father’s preceding thrashing. I wondered if they knew that the roses my mother brought to decorate the church were the same ones that she used to whip me with once they died. She thought the thorns added a nice touch to drive home that I was a sinner, and she could lash the devil out of me. I wondered if they knew that my parents, brother, and sister would circle around me and my current punisher as they ceaselessly chanted, “spare the rod, spoil the child… spare the rod, spoil the child…”.
One of my first memories was my father holding me over the edge of a cliff, telling me that I was destined to burn in eternal fire and that he should let go of me to put our family out of their misery. Throughout my life, whenever I did something that was "against the Lord", my father frequently led me to the edge of the same cliff and would threaten to push me off. He would tell me that I was lucky that he was a man of the cloth so he couldn’t do it himself; after which, he would remind me that I was a sinner and should jump off into the pits of hell, “where I belong”.
On the car ride to the scene of my first memory, I was no longer frightened – I was numb to the routine. We arrived at our destination and I robotically got out of the car. Although there was no need, my father grabbed the back of my shirt and violently ushered me to the brim of the canyon. With the tips of my toes at the edge of the cliff, I gazed down to the bottom of the gorge. What more could I do to gain their love and be accepted as righteous? I looked over at them and they were all stone-faced except for my younger sister. She appeared to have tears in her eyes, although it could have been due to the glaring sun. I turned my head back toward the openness of the canyon. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath in through my nose, and professed, “Honor thy father and mother” Ephesians chapter 6 verse 2”, then took my final footstep.