My grandfather tried hard to please my grandma in every way possible. He never made a major decision without consulting her first. He loved everything she cooked for him, and he shared in the clean-up responsibility, either washing or drying the dishes. He even would get a towel, some lotion, and let Grandma stretch out on the couch and proceed to massage her feet, something she really enjoyed. In all the years I watched my grandfather massage my grandma’s feet, I never saw her return the favor. My grandfather treated my grandmother as if she was royalty!
There was, however, this one occasion that my grandfather brought my grandma to anger – and that was because he dearly loved his three granddaughters and wanted to make them happy. Such was the case this one Easter that my grandfather brought home three chicks that had been dyed blue, red, and pink (But don’t ask me why anyone would do that!). When he opened the box and lifted out the three beauties, we all oooohed and aaaahed!
Everyone, that is, except for my grandmother. Her face turned crimson and she swirled around, dramatically marching to the kitchen where she began to clean up. Pots and pans clanged and banged, and my grandfather could not get a word out of her. “Now, Dottie, I’m going to build a chicken coop out back,” he began in a hushed tone. But that just led to more banging of pots and pans. Yup. My grandfather was getting the silent treatment.
He left us to tend to the chicks while he hurried to the basement to gather tools and building supplies: a saw, a level, bolts and nuts, screwdrivers, and stray pieces of wood. From the trunk of his car he lifted a roll of chicken wire. His plan was to use the doghouse as the henhouse and build a little run around it. Pixie, our faithful dog, really never used the doghouse anyway. She slept on the kitchen floor or curled up at the base of my bed when I was up for the weekend or the summer.
We named our chicks Bluey, Reddy, and Pinky (very original) and taught them how to follow us around like dogs. They even would hop up a small stepladder and flutter to the ground when we clapped our hands. My grandmother never grew any fonder of them, but she didn’t have the heart to tell us we had to give them up. She didn’t have to. As they grew older, they started fighting with each other almost constantly. And it was then that we realized our three little chicks had grown up to be three quite aggressive and spirited roosters.
My grandfather came home one day and called us into the living room. He solemnly told us we were going to have to give up our prize chickens to a farmer up the road who had told my grandfather that he would take them. So we rode, silent and teary-eyed, to Clarence’s farm in the Lehigh Valley. I wasn’t sure, but I thought my grandma was trying to fight back a big smile as she stood in the driveway and waved goodbye to my grandfather, her three grandkids, and the three Banty roosters!