Miss Rose had been older than Moses when I was a little girl and there were times I fully believed she never missed a church service because she was making sure the preacher was getting the story straight - since she had undoubtedly been there when it happened. So when Granny called my cell a few years ago to tell me the news, I was surprised to hear it, but not for the reason Granny thought.
"Are you sitting down, Sug'?" she asked.
"I've got some awful news," Granny began. "It's a huge shock to us all." I get my long-windedness honestly from Granny.
"OK," I said.
"Miss Rose died."
I thought she had died a few years before.
"She died this morning, in her sleep. The nurse went to check on her and found her dead, in her bed. Everyone in our church is in deep shock."
"Granny, she was 103. I think the surprise should have been she made it to the potty in time every morning."
"I wanted you to know. Miss Rose loved you."
Miss Rose used to cold-cock the back of my head during church if she thought my head wasn't bowed and my eyes weren't closed during the prayer.
"Well, I've got to go, I've got to get about three dozen pieces of chicken to fry."
"What's the chicken for?" I asked.
"For the service."
Miss Rose had outlived just about everyone at the church with the exception of Granny and one other mean little woman and didn't have any children and few surviving relatives. I couldn't imagine needing that much chicken. But Granny's a fine Southern Baptist woman and the one thing I learned from her growing up, when someone dies, you take fried chicken. Whether it's homemade or in a bucket, you show up with chicken.
Granny also knows fried chicken is a great way to get in someone's business. When she had new neighbors move in beside her, she pulled out the well-seasoned heavy cast iron fryer and threw some chicken in the oil.
"Granny's gonna get shot one of these days, going to some stranger's house," Mama told me.
"Mama, even I would open the door for fried chicken."
"She's taking that fried chicken over there because she's nosy - she said she was being neighborly and that's what a ‘fine Southern Baptist woman' does, but she just wants to find out who they are and what they do. It's nosiness."
True, it was.
Granny even owned up to it when the neighbors opened the door and she told them she wanted to bring them some chicken and find out who the heck was living next door to her. They let the old gal in; I am sure smelling that still hot fried chicken was like truth serum because Granny returned knowing everything she needed to and then some.
Maybe it's just ingrained in my blood - or maybe it's the grease - but I have never forgot the importance of fried chicken.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist and certified life coach. She lives in the north Georgia mountains with her family and four insane, but fairly well behaved dogs.