A very early memory: I'm a toddler, sitting on my mother's hip. We're in a church and Mama is walking past a casket. There is an old woman in the casket. It's hard to know what I understood at the time and what I've projected back onto the memory. I remember Mama, in her own stoic German farm woman way, was upset. Sad. I wasn't, but I was aware of Mama being so.
I tried asking Mama about that memory, who the woman in the casket might have been. She couldn't be sure. I've wondered if it was my father mother, who I grew up calling Grossmama (Grossemama? Google translate isn't helping me with our Tex-German), even though I never knew her. She died when I was very young. At the moment I'm not sure what year she died, but I was no more than three. She lived with us her last years, but I don't have any other memory of her. And I'm not sure this memory is of her. I don't remember Daddy in the picture anywhere, although of course he was there. But of course I was on Mama's hip.
It's not an upsetting memory. Not frightening. In those days, in that place, children went to funerals and what we did or did not understand was something to grow into. We learned early, we are mortal, and it was okay. It was sad, but it was okay.
Even so, death makes an impression. This is one of my earliest memories.