Monday, October 10, 2011

My Sister the Chicken

Jeanne C Hardy was an amazingly unique person.  Yes, she would have been proud to be remembered as a chicken. She paraded through town that way, as a matter of fact. She clucked down the main street of her small town purposefully one summer, marketing her newsletter and her many other writings. She put together the costume, prepped her handouts, then laughed when a neighbor dressed up as a rooster and chased her down the parade route.

Jeanne was a professional writer. She did everything she could think of to support her passion. She made her living from writing, although it didn’t make her rich. She lived her life with such amazing energy, creating truly rich story after story. She hit on the concept of group journalism in the ‘80’s..... She created a newsletter called The Spotted Chicken Report and solicited memberships instead of subscriptions. Members were a part of her marketing plan. They sent in items to publish, from all over the country, and publish them, Jeanne did. She was interested in her members and shared news about them in the letter. She celebrated their victories and raved about their accomplishments. She ended with a personal piece. Over and over, the readers would say, “when I get my “Chicken” in the mail, I sit down immediately and read it. It makes me feel wonderful.”  Not “the chicken,” but “my chicken.”  I felt that way too, and opened them eagerly.  I was every bit as thrilled as any member when she put in a bit about me.

What was it that attracted people to her writing?  Well, it was simple and personal and funny. She had a sense of humor that glorified common experiences so they became poetic and important. Everyday occurrences, well there was no such thing. Every event, or nearly so, was food for fond elaboration.  She loved a funny story, and found them hidden where no one else could see. Her simple theme mesmerized folks living in a complicated world. She was not a country hick, she had been born and raised in a large city. She was earthy and practical, honest and good spirited.

The motto of the Spotted Chicken Society was No Chick Kicking. The intent was to save the world, one spotted chicken at a time. What is a spotted chicken? was the question.  A spotted chicken is any chicken that has been observed, she answered.  Of course it was kindness she was peddling.  She wrote and quoted articles, recipes, quips and poetry that followed that theme. She had Spotted Chicken Conventions for her members at her cabin in the country. She thought up activities to foster ideas on protecting Spotted Chickens. She had chicken paraphernalia up the ying yang, gifts from readers. She had more than one chicken costume.

There’s much much more to say about my writer sister and her fabulous trek through life, now after nearly 10 years without her. She died of lung cancer in 2002.  (She said she thought that was a good year to die.  Even, balanced. The digits kind of looked like a bra, fostering her feminist inclinations.)  I miss her all the time. Her odd viewpoint, her interest in every possible subject, her resourcefulness, her intelligence, her love for her 4 sons and her granddaughters. Her interest in every relative and each and every person she met. But mostly I miss her love.  Her great endless capacity to love.  I don’t have to feel selfish in that yearning, for I know that others are missing her too, still.  The world is just a bit cooler without her wacky, heart warming chicken perspective.  Fill her shoes?  Never. Conjure up her wit? Nope. Impossible.  Love her and miss her? Yes.  That’s it.  Sometimes, and my family all will concur, desperately.

No comments: