A chicken, ax and mama’s love
Unfair and Unbalanced
BY MARILYN LANGFORD
I WAS the caboose of nine children. During my childhood years, my siblings grew up and left home. Our Thanksgivings were typical for a very large family, lots of good food and good visiting. Even now, I associate the smell of burning leaves with Thanksgiving because it was tradition to rake and clean the yard for the big day. It was an exciting time, especially on Black Friday. Of course there was no such thing as Black Friday back then, but it was “Black Friday” for our hogs that my daddy and my brothers butchered so we could eat all winter.
BUT MY most memorable Thanksgiving was quite different from all those before it. My Daddy had been unemployed for a long time. He finally got a job out-of-town and Mama and I were alone for Thanksgiving. No money and no car. For various reasons, no other family members were coming that day. In keeping with tradition, we still raked, cleaned, and burned leaves. When Mama got tired, she went in to take her nap, as she did every day. Unless the house was on fire, you never bothered Mama when she was taking her nap. That’s a fine tradition I passed down to my children.
I LAY down with her but sleep would not come. I thought of something fun to do that would ease my boredom—I would feed the chickens a snack! I eased out of bed being careful not to disturb Mama.
RETURNING TO the backyard, I took an ear of corn from the corncrib, got an ax without a handle, and chopped one kernel off at a time. It was a great game to see which chicken was the fastest at pecking up the corn, to see them stepping on each other’s heads, and even pecking each other. I was laughing and having a great time until…. one little pullet got over anxious just as I made a swipe down the corn with the ax. It cut her beak off even with her face (if a chicken has a face). She immediately started flipping and flopping. I was horrified! I had never hurt an animal in my life and I was fully aware of how important these chickens were for the sustenance of our family. I knew instantly I was in deep, deep trouble. I didn’t fear Mama would kill me, but I was sure she’d make me cut my own switch. And, if I woke her up from her nap, I would get a double whooping! So, I eased into the bed beside her. Her breathing never changed. I eased back up and went to check on the chicken. She was still flipping and flopping, still suffering. I eased back into the bed. After easing in and out about three times, she yelled at me, “Either stay up or down!” I started crying and said, “I cut the chicken’s pecker off!”
SHE DIDN’T answer for a minute, and I prepared to accept my punishment. She then said, “I was just lying here thinking that I needed to go kill a chicken for our Thanksgiving dinner.” She got up and did just that.
SOME MAY say I got away with murder. I like to think I learned a great lesson in love and parenting.
Happy Thanksgiving and I hope you make a memory.
Marilyn Langford of High Falls writes a regular op-ed column in the Reporter sharing the liberal perspective on events.