Monday, July 2, 2012

Grampie's chicken story

We  have become the kind of people who not only have a trailer parked in their carport, but actually have people living in it. To make it sound more high-falutin', we' call that trailer "The Rainier Room". As SK would say, 'that's klassy with a K.' And w'er adding to our number again this week. People welcome and beloved. But our small home is so far beyond bursting at the seams we're like a big beer belly after Thanksgiving dinner, just trying to sit down in an easy chair. Seriously about to pop a button or two.

The best thing is that we are very, very helpful folks here. Especially the young adult women who push up their sleeves and climb over each other to help in the kitchen, wash up, and move chairs whenever necessary, making everything a well-oiled machine five days in. I have to say, I can't imagine how my mother-in-law did it when we landed in her house in droves back when these same young adults were little people, requiring relentless attention and making their parents too exhausted to give her any help at all. And she did it with so much grace and effortlessness, I hardly even noticed how hard it must have been.

Today I notice. And am thankful for her. And thankful for those who populate my home tonight with all their differing abilities and temperaments, making this easy and fun and as stress-free as possible. Considering. And I pray they're finding it exactly the same way.

Especially because late this afternoon, just after Beve's oldest brother, who's been down with a ferocious cold since they arrived, came out into the living room freshly showered, Grampie began unbuttoning his shirt. He was bound and determined that it was his turn next. Though I was in the kitchen, mid-dinner fixing, it soon became clear that only my more-known voice would be able to stop him from disrobing right there and then. The most glaring problem is that we don't have a shower handicap-accessible, but the immediate issue was that dinner bell was about to ring. And middle son was just pulling into our driveway. So I talked him into a shirt change and hair-brushing. Then Beve came in to help lift him into his wheelchair.

And as he reached back to grab the waistband of Grampie's pants, he discovered why his dad was so fired up to take that shower. Beve lifted his hand to show me and we immediately put dinner on hold and tried to figure out how to navigate the necessary clean-up.  In the end (no pun intended) Beve and our Finnish niece, M, who has spent the last six months volunteering with autistic adults in Beersheva, Israel (doing just such work as this) took Grampie into the bathroom and cleaned him up, put him into clean clothes. Not quite a shower, but close.

Then we sat down to dinner and began talking our favorite Grampie stories. It's a pastime we've spent plenty of time doing over the last few days. One of the wonderful things that happens as we tell such stories is that at some point in the telling, Grampie himself clicks in. The always slightly absent look in his eyes disappears and suddenly there he is. Present, remembering with us. Almost (though not quite) telling the story better than we could tell it for him. And there is one story that always, always gets told in such moments. Tonight someone suggested that I post this particular story on my blog, because it's a story worth telling.

So here goes:
When Grampie and his younger brother were boys, their mother gave them 25 cents to buy a chicken for dinner. When I say chicken, I mean a live chicken, of course--she would do the killing, plucking and cleaning herself. It was not only cheaper that way, but the more common way country housewives bought their chickens in that navy town in the depression if they had enough money to buy chickens at all. Anyway, she sent them down to buy that chicken, which only cost 15 cents, so she told them they could take the other two nickels and go to the nickel picture show with them on the way home.

So they bought the chicken. Walked on over to the movie house. Then the great dilemma. What to do with this live chicken during the movie?  Grampie, being as large a boy as he is a man, decided he would put the live chicken inside his dungaree overalls where it'd be safe and quiet (and hidden). This was a fine plan, they thought.

Except that they got into the movie house and began to worry that the chicken might die from being stuffed inside Grampie's pants. SO, being the brilliant boys that they were, they decided that the best plan would be for Grampie to open the fly of his pants and let the chicken stick its head out so it could breathe.

Yep. I kid you not.

A few minutes later, a couple of older women walked past these two young boys sitting there.
One turned to the other and said in absolute horror, "Do you see what I see?"
And the other one answered, "Oh Ethel, you've seen one, you've seen 'em all."

And...
as Grampie would say (did say tonight when we told it!),
That's a true story.

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