My grandmother died in the summer of 1980. She lived in a small town in Louisiana for most of her life with my grandpa (whom I’ve written of on these pages before). Mother of nine, she saw two of her sons precede her to Heaven. I remember her strength and her tenderness to me when I was a little mr. man (notice the lowercase).
While funerals are often sad occasions, they don’t always have to be. Our family would celebrate amid the sorrow by getting together after the burial to remember the deceased with food, drink, and memories of the good times. Such was the case after Grandma’s funeral.
(“what does any of this have to do with Mocha Dad, a chicken, and yours truly?” you might ask. Here’s how…
Mocha Dad (when he was just a Mocha Lad) & I were hanging out on the back porch of our grandparents’ house. All of the food wasn’t quite ready. Truth be told, we were bored. Cool just to hang out, nothing much to do, really. Then my Aunt Eva came onto the back porch and said in her broken creole,
“Y’all go fetch one dem chickens out de yard.”
Times were different then. If an elder instructed you to do do something, then you did it. No questions asked. Otherwise you risked getting beat until the “white meat” showed facing dire consequences.
Mocha Dad and I looked at each other incredulously. We were not about to disobey Aunt Eva’s command, but we both knew we had no intentions of touching those chickens either. After all, they were dirty, smelly, had big fangs and evil eyes (at least that’s how our young minds perceived them to be). How do we get out of this?
We leave the porch and start walking through the yard. There were several fowls around us, pecking and scratching, minding their own business. Waiting to attack ferociously if disturbed. Finally, we focus on one of the less intimidating birds. We walk towards it and it scoots away. We approach it again and it moves away again eyeballing us the whole time. Then we break out into a half-hearted pursuit. The chicken takes off, clucking (I’m sure it was laughing at our pathetic efforts to catch it). It was obvious to this bird-brain that we weren’t really trying and it was in no danger whatsoever.
After about fifteen minutes of “chasing” the bird”, Aunt Eva comes back out to see what was taking so long. I can only imagine what was going on in her mind watching two city boys dancing the salsa with this chicken. I didn’t have to imagine what she was thinking because she told us upfront,
“Y’all ain’t no ‘count!” Translated-You two are of no good account. You are the sorriest excuses of chicken catchers I have ever seen in all my years. Both of you should just crawl back into your mothers’ wombs and cry yourselves to sleep. Girlie Men!
With that, this elderly woman hitched up her Sunday dress and broke out into a full sprint. She caught that chicken in no time flat! Grabbed it by its neck and, to our horror, spun it around like a yo-yo.
She dropped the chicken and looked at us with disgust as the poor bird did its death dance. When the bird stopped moving, she picked it up and took it inside to prepare it for dinner, mumbling about how worthless we were the whole time.
Despite the tongue-lashing we received, Mocha Dad and I felt like we got away with murder. The ploy worked. We didn’t have to touch that nasty bird and all we got out of it were a few insults from our great aunt.
I wonder what she would say now about her nephew (who is now an avid waterfowl hunter) if she were still alive. Would she be impressed? Would she be proud?
No. She’d probably say, “You still ain’t no ‘count. You have to shoot dem birds, but you still cain’t catch ‘em!”
God bless her soul.
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