When I was just a very young lad, it was my responsibility to milk several cows each morning and evening. My father worked away during the week making it absolutely necessary for me to accomplish this task with little outside help except from my mother in the mornings. I alone had to do the evening milkings.
To get to the barn in the evening, I had to pass through the area in which the chickens were located. There was a rooster who loved to establish its self-esteem by flogging me as I walked through its territory.
Having a rooster flogging would be a horrifying experience even for an adult. But words cannot describe the impact it would have on a child. The rooster would not flog me except when I was carrying buckets filled with milk.
With empty buckets, it seemed to sense that I could get away from it. But with the full buckets, I was at its mercy since I could not afford to spill the milk.
The situation became so frightening that I would even go the long way around in order to avoid the rooster. It caused me much concern and even completely occupied my mind just before going to the barn each day.
The job of milking gives no days off. There had to be some solution to this situation; but I was not about to let my father know that I was so afraid of that rooster. He would have never understood that.
On one occasion, I was presented with some time alone with my Uncle Harrison. He was a wise man just a little older than my father. And he never seemed to be afraid of anything. I decided to seek his wise counsel on the matter. He seemed to enjoy talking with me about the rooster and trying to help me solve my terrible problem.
Uncle Harrison suggested that I carry an extra pair of buckets with me to the barn. When I was to start back to the house, I should carry the pair of empty buckets, one in each hand. As the rooster came near, I was to be very calm and let it start flogging me. Uncle Harrison assured me that I should let the rooster think that it was going to frighten me as it so many times had done.
It was then that I should strike the rooster with the empty buckets. He assured me that I would not harm the rooster, but the sound of the buckets would make my point. I certainly could not hurt my father's rooster.
He cautioned me that I should keep striking the rooster until it threw up its wings to cover its head. It was only then that I would have won the battle with the rooster. If I ever retreated, the rooster would know that I was still afraid, and I would be destined to repeat each day that awful experience.
I did not have any other choice than to try Uncle Harrison's solution. He seemed to have so much faith in me. And telling my father that I was afraid of the rooster would have been a source of great embarrassment.
I carried the extra buckets as I went to the barn on that fateful day. As I milked the cows, my hands were shaking not being able to forget about what I had to do. Out of the barn I came uttering numerous prayers for my success.
The rooster approached as usual when it realized I had two milk buckets in hand not realizing that both were empty. I continued to utter my pleas for divine intervention. A crossroads in my life was quickly approaching. A line was now being drawn in the sand, and I was doing the drawing. Could I really stand there and let the rooster attack me?
The rooster flogged with such ferocity as if it seemed to sense the importance of this encounter. I bit my lip hard as fear forced the tears down my cheeks. I quickly reviewed the instructions from Uncle Harrison as I hit the rooster with one bucket and then with the other bucket. The rooster fell backwards as if it was having difficulty understanding the turn of events.
For a brief moment, the rooster retreated as if to test my conviction in the matter. But again, it charged toward me. I had had just enough success that the next attack would be easier to repel. My courage was growing.
Again and again I struck it. In the heat of the moment, the handle to one the buckets came loose sending the bucket flying into the air. But that did not seem to matter as I continued with the remaining one.
The rooster retreated toward the hen house with me in swift pursuit. Under the hen house it went to the smallest corner trying to avoid my strikes. Cornered and defeated, the rooster finally threw up its wings to cover its head.
I had defeated the rooster. And this or any other rooster was never again to cause me any concern.
In life, we must face the rooster. Life is filled with many fearful circumstances. We must make difficult decisions. We must stand up and face difficult situations. We will need help and advice from others along the way.
But we must persist. Little did I know as a young lad what a profound effect that event would have upon my life. That one event gave me the courage to fight other more important battles in life.Everett B. Padgett, Jr., --- North Carolina
Copyright © June, 1994 (Revised 1996)