Reflections of Me: Grandma’s Instructions

One Friday afternoon as Grandma and I started dinner, we heard a flurry of activity. Isaac, the man from the downstairs butcher store came flying up the stairs, “Your mother called me on the phone, said she needs to go to the hospital right now.”

Just like that? Hospital? My heart thumped inside my chest louder and louder as the fear crept in landing next to my loneliness. Mom was only in her sixth month of pregnancy, and even I knew at eleven and one half that it took nine months to have a baby. Was Mom going to die?

I bit my nails to the quick, and now stuffed both my hands into my mouth.

Grandma grabbed her coat. “I want you to pluck all these feathers off this chicken for the matzo ball soup. Be sure to save the fat for the chicken fat. She turned to me. “Every feather off.”

She waved goodbye, and I ran to the door to check the locks. I desperately wanted to please Grandma. I washed my hands and sat down looking at this little chicken. How hard could it be to pull off all the feathers. One by one I yanked at the feathers, but nothing happened. Was there a trick I didn’t know about? I ran for my mother’s tweezers and I plucked and pulled and I tweezed until my hands were red and sore, all the while wondering what was happening at the hospital.

Alone in the apartment, the clock ticking loudly in my ears, getting louder as it became darker. I was so scared. Where was my Daddy? Why didn’t anyone call me?  I worked harder, faster, pulling and plucking. I wanted to wake up from this nightmare, but I knew I couldn’t.

Hours went by, and thoughts raced through my mind like a freight train. I was still working on that chicken, and finally, I was getting it done.

Much later I heard footsteps on the stairs. Grandma came into the kitchen with her arms outstretched, and I ran right into them. I buried my face into her warmth until she held me at arms length. “You have a tiny sister. She  weighs only two pounds.”

I looked at the chicken on the table with it’s long wobbly feet, and wondered, is this what my sister looked like?

Next: End of Childhood.

Keep love and kisses in your life.