To truly appreciate the irony of this story, you must first know that my history with chickens is colorful and much ballyhooed to the point of being family legend. It has never been an easy relationship between me and those feathery foes of mine.
My godfather worked in the poultry business, and often he would gift me with a lovely little yellow fluff ball from his hatchery. As a child, I loved those little baby chicks and happily played with them. They grew up to be big chickens that would wind up as a Sunday's fried chicken dinner.
That was a bit traumatic.
One day, I trailed Mama out to the barn and as she tossed feed out, I ran over to pick up one of my new babies. An old mother hen had adopted the new chick and did not take kindly to me picking her up. She flogged me. A tiny 4-year-old pecked, scratched and flapped. It was terrifying.
I spent many years being a chicken when it came to chickens. I wouldn't go near a full-grown chicken. Don't laugh. If people can be afraid of snakes that bite, why couldn't someone be afraid of a chicken that pecks, scratches and flaps?
Then there were the days that Mama had me help her pluck the feathers of the newly departed. I won't go into the details of taking a chicken from the yard to the dinner table, but it wasn't pleasant to me. It was less than tantalizing.
Now that you know the history, you can understand the irony that finally I have a namesake. And it's a chicken.
No one has ever loved me enough or thought enough of me to name a child after me. I'm slightly puzzled by this. Since I have no children, it would make sense that if someone gave me a namesake that I might help to educate and take care of that child and make her an equal heir to Dixie Dew. Nonetheless, until sweet Joseph came along, I had no namesake.
Joseph is the 11-year-old nephew of my friend, Karen. His family, who lives far out in the country, became unexpected custodians of two chickens that just showed up one day and made themselves at home. Out of the blue, Joseph, my new best friend, announced that he had named one of the chickens "Ronda" after me.
His mom, Susan, started laughing. "Why would you name a chicken after Ronda?"
"Because it has red on its head like Ronda."
So, there. I have now been honored by a proud parent who has given my name to his pride and joy. Is there a higher compliment to be had? I think not. Of course, everyone else thinks that it's riotously funny. To the point that Karen couldn't tell me the story without choking with laughter.
"Of all the things to name after you!" she howled. "After the troubled past you've had with chickens. It's the funniest thing I ever heard."
Oh, but all things can be mended. I'm willing to forget the mean chickens of my past and embrace my new namesake with great fervor and devotion. I plan to establish a trust fund - not mere chicken feed, mind you - to look after Ronda's comfort, health and veterinarian needs. I want her to be well provided for. If she wants to advance her education so she becomes as wise as an owl, then I'll see that her schooling is covered.
I met a lady the other day who was telling me that her family was involved in the poultry industry.
I smiled proudly and straightened my shoulders. "I have a pet chicken named after me." She looked puzzled.
She laughed. "Well, aren't you special!"
Yes, I am. Stop laughing.
Has anyone ever named a pet chicken after you?Ronda Rich is the Gainesville-based author of the new book, "What Southern Women Know About Faith." Sign up for her newsletter.