Our turkey did not have a name.
Our turkey was raised on a farm in Church Hill, MD, owned by a friend of Dad’s. While the unnamed bird had an organic diet, he was not free range. He and his birdy buddies were fed, possibly by hand, daily by Dad’s friend Marty and maybe also his lovely wife Yieva. Gracious people, with taste and poise, who raise animals for food and keep happy dogs and scared chickens.
Our turkey spent his days wandering in the acre behind the house, with his brethren, and chowed down on corn and grains and grew large, with a bulky great breast. And when the time came he was beheaded in a way we all like to think is humane and good. That was the first death.
He was much too large for our oven, but Mom stuffed him in there anyway. He was a little dry and his dark meat a little tough. We enjoyed him immensely- all except for my sister, who feasted on vegetarian stuffing, soup and potatoes. He went well with the bourbon cranberry relish I made. He was delicious.
For several days we enjoyed the last shreds of his dignified breast, his noble thigh, his shapely legs. And then, tonight, came death number two:
Me: (walking in the door after a long day at work) “I think George Harrison died today. They were playing a lot of Beatles stuff on NPR and talking about him.”
Dad: “That can’t be right.”
Mom: “Isn’t he already dead?”
Me & Dad: “…”
Me: “So, what’s for dinner?”
Dad: “How about pizza?”
Me: “The coupon on the fridge is expired.”
Mom: “Try the ones on the side of the fridge.”
Me: (rummage, rummage) “Got it!”
When I got to the pizza delivery place down the street to pick up a medium pepperoni pie, the poor guy manning the store was so busy. I could just imagine all the families in Cabin John, Bethesda and Potomac looking on their fridges for pizza coupons, because a week of turkey- no matter how noble and beautiful the bird- is much too much.
That the turkey lies in the fridge in ruined shards does not phase us. That he lived a life we hope was blissful and free of care until Marty beheaded him so we could put him in an oven, coated with strips of bacon, is so quickly forgotten. That the eating of him brought us together will be remembered. Now we are gathered around the table to eat the pizza. It is hotter’n’heck, coated liberally in cheese, dotted generously with pepperoni, and studded with black olives from the fridge and mushrooms we sauteed ourselves. Let us give thanks.
George Harrison died 5 years ago today. The turkey, 10 days ago tonight.
Rest in peace, George. Rest in pieces, turkey.