It’s been official for about three months now. But it just hit me.
I’ve had his personal belongings. I’ve had his paintings, artwork, and calendars. I’ve had his green cap that hung on the door hook. I’ve had his black Parker pens he kept in the cup. I’ve had our childhood pictures he kept on his desk. I’ve had the wrinkled postcards I sent him from Hawaii and Australia. I’ve had his black Samsonite briefcase. I’ve had all these things … but it just hit me.
I stood there in the meat section of the supermarket contemplating a poultry purchase that never came to pass. It hit me … in all my years of adulthood, I’ve never had to buy chicken … ever.
It has been one of the perks of being in this family. Free chicken. Since 1987 I’ve had that privilege, but after my Dad passed away in 2010, running the business became a little too stressful for my mom, so she decided to sell at the end of last year. And with this sell, one of the last remaining ties I had with my Dad was severed.
So it wasn’t really a strange thing for me to have a moment in front of the refrigerated Foster Farms chicken breasts, although the lady in the black running tights and tangerine jacket seemed to think I was a little off. I remembered all the times my Dad, sporting his white butcher coat and apron, stood behind the counter slicing and dicing with his such precision. I remember the sound of the blades scraping against the knife sharpener stick before he began. I thought about how he engaged in conversations with his customers and laughed it up with friends over coffee.
I remember getting behind the counter at 15, my first job, trying to slice and dice and all I did was worry my Dad, because I did not inherit his awesome Ninja knife skills. I had the wash the windows and clean the floors skills. Most chics get a quinceanera as a right of passage when they turn 15. I got a white apron.
I remembered all the Thanksgivings and the hundreds of free-range turkeys that surrounded me in the Rocky-style refrigerator. I remembered the paperwork and hundreds of orders I had to match up with our inventory. I remembered the white butcher paper the chicken was wrapped in … it looked nothing like the yellow Styrofoam and plastic wrap in front of me.
I never thought I’d miss chicken.
There were plenty of times when I got tired of it. I could probably write a cookbook with 101 ways to cook chicken that would rival the shrimping recipes Bubba was laying out for Forrest Gump. Not to mention the turkey. But I guess it’s like anything in life, you don’t really miss it until it’s gone.
So I stood there in the meat section of the Vons and just couldn’t do it. I needed something in white butcher paper. But everyone appeared to be on break, so I headed for the pasta aisle.