excerpted from chapter 1 of HOLY ROLLER: Growing Up in the Church of Knock Down, Drag Out; or, How I Quit Loving a Blue-Eyed Jesus. by Diane Wilson illustration by Tyler Parker …I was dough on anybody’s dough board. I was missionary dough on Sister Pearl’s dough board and nurse dough on Momma’s dough board. Momma was a born-again Christian but big big on nursing. Her dream for a short while was to be a nurse but she got married and, BOOM!, had seven kids instead so she transferred her aborted nursing dream onto her daughters. It was a tangled, twisted little fetus of a thing. Never quite living, not quite dead. But no matter, the nursing dream was like a possum up a tree and she was the kid with a stick trying to hit it over the head; she never hit it squarely on the head, but ever’ time she thought about it, she went out and took another swing at it. Momma had lived all her life in one little town and had never went beyond the city-limit sign until she was about twenty-five, when she and her three kids rode on a train to Clute, Texas, to visit an uncle. By nightfall the uncle wanted to know when she and that batch of kids was leaving so Momma left Clute and went home crying. She never left again. Momma said the only reason a woman needed to be outa the house was if she was making money and if she was a woman she wasn’t making much so really there wasn’t no reason for her to be outa the house. Unless she was a nurse. Nurses made lots of money. So Momma wanted every one of us girls to be a nurse and hardly one of us was heading that way so Momma ran out of ideas on what to do with us besides sending us to church. Maybe one of us would be a missionary. Sacrifice and money. Momma was big on one and knew a lot about the scarcity of the other. So make lots of money or go to the Congo as a missionary and get hacked to pieces and buried in a shoebox. \(No missionary made it alive OCTOBER 31, 2008 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23
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