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My grandmother left several legacies when she died. Some are in the community (getting up at 4 in the morning to put together boxes of food for locals seniors younger than her). Some are emotional (she was the stay-at-home presence, when dad was working cars and mom was working, period). Some are physical (cookbooks and pictures and the family bible, to name a few). And some were alive. More specifically, two chickens. Sisters.

She got them, full grown and laying, from a friend of hers who died a few years later. Two Old English Game bantam hens, named Cissy and Prissy. Cissy was the more outgoing; if anyone sat down for more than a few minutes, she would come up to you and fly up into your lap, talking and clucking and happy to sit and socialize. Prissy was more stand-offish (especially after she got fowlpox, when scabs form on the face. Hers got so big they covered her eyes. We got her through it but she never quite forgave humans for picking the scabs off {painful but necessary, since she couldn’t see to eat or drink}), but occasionally she would deign to sit on someone’s lap.

Someone besides my grandmother, I mean; they followed her, sat with her, and gardened with her. They were her pets, and gave forth a legacy of chicks that we still have. Cissy in particular continued to set and hatch babies until she got so old she forgot what to do with the babies once she had them. If you turned a spadeful of dirt or pulled a single weed, they were there, inspecting the insects and chirking like mad. When my grandmother died in 2003, they looked for her for months.

I like to think they found her, now.

Cissy went first. Cold weather, an unsteady perch, possibly an owl. Whatever it was, we found her in the morning, or what was left of her. Our dogs did what dogs do when faced with dead things (we have since… impressed… different behavior when it comes to chickens). Prissy just sat down and died, last night. Hardly surprising- near as I can tell, they were at least 15 years old. Possibly more, but certainly no less.

I know chickens are hardly thought of as pet material to the general public, but these two were special. They had personalities. They were loved, both for my grandmother’s sake and for their own. And now they both are gone, gone after my grandmother, gone to follow. May they find her in the hereafter.

Goodbye Cissy. Goodbye Prissy. Goodbye matriarchs of the flock. You have earned your rest a thousand-times over.

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