Today is the day of my grandmother’s funeral, and I woke up thinking about fried chicken and preachers. My grandparents raised chickens for many, many years. They had a small shed on the hillside above the house called the brooder house. During the frigid winters, they would load up the wood stove with a warm fire and Granny would tell how the chickens and young chicks would line up around the heat of the stove. She marveled at how they would stick together in neat little rows. The eggs would be gathered every day, and once a week, Grandpa would load up a huge stack of egg crates and take them to Town (always a capital T in my mind as she told her stories) to sell.
As you gathered eggs, there may be one chicken who didn’t like being ousted from her spot as you checked for hidden eggs and she’d retaliate with a little nip. That one, Granny explained, would be the preacher’s chicken. Each Sunday, the preacher would visit one of the families of the church for dinner after church service. I’m sure that the women in the community would lay out their finest during these visits. I’ve heard of revenge being a dish best served cold, but as I think about her story, I think for Granny, it must have been a dish served fried in Crisco and served to the preacher.
Because of Covid, the service today will be a gathering of cars to follow the hearse up a rocky rutted road, and a short graveside service as we all sniffle through our masks and shiver in six inches of snow as another storm comes blowing in to knock us off the mountain ridge. My cousin said Granny had often told her that she’d be sitting on her little pink cloud, laughing at all of us. I wonder if we’ll look like little chicks to her, gathered in a circle around our center of warmth? We will celebrate her life, sharing the thousands of stories of her and by her. And I, for one, plan to remember her tomorrow on Sunday, by fixing fried chicken.