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The Rooster Thing

302. The Rooster Thing

There are roosters sprinkled about my house. There’s one on my fireplace mantle, there’s a half-circle over my front door with a rooster on it. There are rooster plates, rooster mugs, a rooster teapot. I have a glass rooster from Corning Glass.

And on this day of April 16, they remind me of a six-month-old baby named Jackson. In 2001 I went with my daughter and son-in-law to Vietnam and they adopted Jackson. For eight days in Hanoi we played with him, I sang to him, we chattered to him. One of the things he would do with me was to “crow.” That’s what it sounded like to me, he just looked at me and made this loud noise. I would imitate it back to him and he would laugh as if he was so amazed that I could do it too. Our crowing reminded me of a rooster.

I’m glad to have the persistent reminder around the house because Jackson didn’t make it back here. He had a cold, something got worse, and on the plane from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City he stopped breathing. Then in the hospital of that city, he died—on April 16th.

Sometimes on this day I go to the cemetery nearby where he is buried and sing him “Baby Beluga.” It seems that the memories of those weeks in Vietnam have not dimmed very much, and the roosters remind me of how Jackson and I “crowed” together.

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