After the big argument, Paddy took off for his Mother’s house, leaving Mother to figure out how to get along without him especially now with new baby to take care of. Somehow we managed with help from the usual sources. And as the months and then the years passed, Anna and I were both in school and Joan and Kay were old enough to play by themselves for long periods of time so that Mother could take care of the house cleaning and cooking. Things were running smoothly and Mother made friends with several women in the neighborhood. Mother had that kind of personality which made it easy to make friends. She was very gracious and friendly and liked to talk and always appreciated a good story. She was also very witty and quick to laugh at someone’s joke.
The men in the neighborhood mostly husbands of Mother’s women friends were always there to lend a hand when needed. Like chop some wood for the stove which we needed on occasion when the coal fire went out. Or finish off a chicken when the occasion demanded. I remember one day when Mother needed something for dinner and we were out of any meat. So she decided to have one of the chickens.
She did not think any of us kids were around so she got the axe and proceeded to try to cut the chicken’s head off. Since this was her first time and she was having a hard time with it, things were not going well. She had cut the chicken’s head partly off, but it got away from her and was running around the yard screaming its head off, so to speak. I happened to be watching this unbeknownst to Mother. One of the neighbor men was watching also and seemed to be enjoying himself. He asked if he could help with a big smile on his face. Mother was between laughter and tears by this time herself, and said “please do something!”
He took charge and finished the job for her and she thanked him profusely, offering him a beer or a cup of coffee. He politely refused but offered to do any head chopping for her in the future, saying it was a man’s job.
Now we kids had gotten to know these chickens very well and had even given them names and were very attached to the chickens, especially the younger girls. So at dinner that night Mother did not want anyone to know that she had killed a chicken and in fact that was what they were eating. I somehow let the cat out of the bag and then I refused to eat the chicken, and someone said “Oh my God it’s Henry.” Henry was the favorite! The tears flowed from everyone except Mother, who was giving me the evil eye!
To be continued.