My mother told me today that she went to the birthday party of a chicken. All her old friends were there and I'm sure the chicken, "Mr. X," was very surprised and pleased.
I thought about how this party came about and it made me think of a couple recent blogs I wrote about secret codes and my common subject of storytelling and I remembered an email I wrote about 14 months ago which will explain the chicken party. (Not that chickens need to have a justification for having birthday parties.)
I'm not sure how old Robert was - perhaps a few years older than 65. A man I've known all my life - basically an uncle of sorts. He was a PhD of science and more than anything else I will remember his ability to share information in a fascinating way. He found various things interesting and could tell it to you in an inspiring way - a way which nourished the wonder of life in you.
As with many with active minds, he was an odd character when he did not know what to do with his intellect. After retiring too soon, he was looking for a hobby. He ended up having a chicken who laid two eggs. he labeled one X and one Y; X hatched and lived. So, he raised "Mr. X" as he called him.
When Mr. X was old enough, he took him on a motorcycle ride across the country. He was interviewed on the morning TV talk show "Goodmorning America", It wasn't scheduled he was just this 6'4" 65 year old man with a chicken on his motorcycle watching them tape the show and he caught their attention. (it was bumped for time in the end.)
But that uniqueness was a great part of his life.
As I was driving to a friend's beach party tonight I got a phone call
informing me that Robert had died in a motorcycle accident.
I arrived at the beach and didn't know where my friend's party was. It was a long long beach and I walked form one end of the other and halfway back when I finally heard her distinctive laugh.
As I was walking by the 40 or so various beach parties of maybe 10 to 50 people each, though, I would catch glimpses of their conversations and the one thing I heard again and again - nearly exclusively was this.
"We were at that...."
"We was down at the...."
"It was you and you and me and we..."
We seem born to tell our stories. I remember once when I was with a group of new friends that I'd only been getting to know for a few months and a sentence began "We were at the..." and it was me speaking. And it was then that I knew I was one of them. I belonged because I had spent enough time that I actually had a shared experience with them. Nothing dramatic, but something that we could call our own. It is almost as though the stories are the process of reassuring us that we belong - that we have something in common and are therefore part of an extended family. And when we share our stories, we are sharing an aspect of our own humanity - like offering a hand for a shake - or a gift. And when Robert was sharing his ideas and information he was doing the same and his gift was to inspire you to wonder.
And that is how I will remember him. And this was my story about Robert.
And that is how it is that people gather to celebrate the birthday of a chicken.
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