In our kitchen, high on a ledge, is a large ceramic rooster. It was one of several ceramic roosters my mother owned, both large and small. Although she’s been gone for nearly 40 years, I’ve managed to hold onto to this one. It’s a reminder, along with the pictures of her in our family room and on my bed-stand. Family and friends have asked, over the years, about this large rooster in the kitchen as my wife and I aren’t big ceramic people…but there’s a story behind it and a reason I keep it.
My mom was raised in the South at a time when it was common for people to keep animals in their yards. Having a farm wasn’t a prerequisite and codes on that kind of thing were pretty relaxed. My grandparents kept chickens when mom was a child. Even during my early years, their detached garage had been converted into a turkey pen.
Anyway, among the chickens my grandparents kept during mom’s youth were a couple of roosters. One in particular was pretty aggressive and my mother was one of his targets. He would peck at her ankles and legs often. One day she ran into the house crying after being pecked. My grandfather, having had enough, went outside and butchered the rooster. He became Sunday dinner. From that day on, my grandparents called mom “Rooster.”
I have so many memories of summer visits and hearing my grandmother yell down the long hall of her home for my mother, “Rooster!” In fact, I don’t recall either one of my grandparents ever referring to mom by her name, Martha. It was always Rooster.
As an adult, mom had a collection of ceramic roosters. When I was a kid, they were just part of the décor of the house and I hardly noticed them. But now, whenever I walk into my kitchen and look up, I see that giant rooster and my mind fills with all kinds of memories.
Mom was 5’ 2” tall, but she was always a giant to me, My Giant Rooster; and though decades have passed since the day she drew her last breath, her presence is strong to me in the memory of her laughter, the stories she would tell (like how she became “Rooster”), the conversations and experiences we had, and the love she gave over twenty-eight deeply blessed years.
To all of you moms, thank you for being giants among us.
© Byron L. Hannon, 2020. All rights reserved to text content.