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"You mean the jewelry?" Mom asked. My sister and I shared a knowing look, preparing for the rationalization to come. Silently, Jane agreed to launch in with, "They're only material items," and I nodded, indicating I would follow up with, "What good are a few stupid rocks anyway?"

Mom smiled smugly. While waiting for her to divulge the reason for her smile, I entertained the possibility that she was having some kind of breakdown. "They must not have looked in the chicken," she said, ending the suspense. Finally, it all made sense -- despite the fact that we had always chastised her for keeping her most sentimental pieces in what we thought was an obvious hiding place, Mom's stubbornness had paid off.

My mother has something of a chicken fetish. Chicken calendars, chicken printed fabrics, chicken kitchen utensils and dishware, likenesses of chickens made from metal, wood, straw, and every other conceivable material; she is to chickens as Bubba Gump is to shrimp. So it was no surprise to us that, rather than in a jewelry box or under clothes in a bedroom drawer, Mom had stashed her few favorite pieces inside one of the thousands of chickens that live in her home.

It didn't take us long to put everything back in order, but we were concerned to leave Mom alone. "Are you going to be okay?" Jane asked her.

"This place is like Fort Knox now," Mom answered with a smirk. Then her face became serious and she said, "You know, sometimes I feel like I'm really alone in the world. But after this happened, my friends and family were here for me in a heartbeat, and I realized, I'm not alone at all. So, yeah, I'm fine. I'll be just fine."

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