When Family Happens

I have a chicken. I like to raise a couple of them because they provide us with fresh eggs and great fertilizer for the garden. Normally the chickens are pretty harmless creatures. But I’ll get back to the chicken shortly.

I have a family. We like to get together as much as possible, which doesn’t seem to be all that often these days. Nevertheless, the stars aligned this past weekend and, because my niece had a state running event in the Austin area, all my siblings, their kids and my parents landed here. Awesome!

After the event, we all met up at the Shady Grove for what was an absolutely beautiful lunch together on a beautiful day — 72 degrees, sunny, the kind you fall back on in your memory when its 115 in the shade and there’s a swimming pool in your shorts. Everyone was really enjoying themselves and having a genuinely outstanding time. After a couple of family pics, we decided to keep the day going and return to my house for a few moments before the crew split up and traveled back to our own homes. A good rule of thumb in life should always be to ‘leave on a high note’ and, when family is concerned, ‘get while the getting is good’.

Upon arriving at the homestead, everyone gathered in the yard. They commented on the gardens and the cute new Great Pyrenees puppy. That’s when I had a bad idea.

Now we come back to the chicken. I thought it would be a good idea to place the chicken on my sister’s head, because no matter how old you get, when your sisters are around, you simply revert to being a brother. I did so, and everyone laughed and took pics. Then, I perched the chicken on her shoulder. Like an overstuffed parrot, she roosted there, and my sister was being a great sport about it. But then I noticed the chicken turning her head and focusing in on one particular place, behaving in a way generally reserved for spotting a bug on the ground or catching sight of a worm in the soil. That chicken turned her head and, with her beady chicken eye, looked longingly into my sister’s eye. Before I could yell out, “It’s going to peck your eye”, it did.

Perhaps Jenny’s eye looked wet or tasty, but in an instant, my poor sister dropped to the ground, clutching her eye, the chicken flapping away in fear and my family retreating to her side.

Yep, bad idea.

I’ve visited emergency rooms before due to a variety of injuries to myself and my kids. I’ve easily explained broken bones and cuts to the skin to the doctors in the ER, but never have I had to explain that my chicken poked my sister’s eye out. And yes, I had to explain it more than once. Family creates enough drama on its own without throwing an eye-pecking chicken into the mix. Far be it from me to introduce a cock fight with my sister’s eye ball on an absolutely beautiful and harmless day, but there you go. That’s what brothers do. I will say, after the painfully long hospital visit, the pecked eye only sustained some abrasions, normal vision, and a tetanus shot. In the end, we laughed and I apologized more than a few times.

My sister was quite understandably mad at me, but the whole incident has made for a family story we’ll tell at holidays for years…perhaps over roasted hen.

Sorry Jenny. Love you.

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