A Chicken Story

by James Hanna

Lung cancer was much too ambitious when it claimed John, my youngest brother. Since he died within days of his diagnosis, he hardly seemed to have passed. Memories of him were yet pulsing in me; family photos preserved his broad grin. And his still-powerful presence, which assailed me in moments of restless sleep, was like an old familiar sweater. But it was the anecdotes John had inspired—small but enduring tales—that most effectively blunted the Reaper’s untimely blade. I have a favorite:

Before he grew into a jovial bear of a man, John was a sunny pre-schooler attending a daycare center. One day, his teacher took John and the other five- year-olds to visit a local farm. During the tour, the children watched as a callous farmer whacked off the head of a chicken. Returning home from daycare, John eagerly described this incident to the family.

Our mother, of course, was appalled. “Do you mean to tell me,” she gasped, “that you saw a farmer kill a chicken?”

“Nooo,” piped wee John, his smile wide as a barn. “The chicken was still running around.”