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Sometimes love can look like a rotisserie chicken

January 24, 2013|Alicia Notarianni | Making Ends Meet

Does it help to throw a rotisserie chicken at a hurting person?

It's a long-standing debate in my house.

I contend the answer is yes. By "throw," I do not mean to chuck an aggrieved person between the eyes with a bird. Though it arguably might get her mind off things for a while.

I'm speaking figuratively, of course, as in arriving at the home of one who is demoralized and carefully placing the poultry on the counter or kitchen table. And it must be accompanied with a sincere side of "Tell me what you need. I'm on it."

The skewered chicken debate stems from a situation many years ago in which my mother-in-law was going through a divorce. At a loss as to a better way to assist, her father would, with some regularity, show up at her house bearing arms of the roasted, spit-spun chicken variety.

My mother-in-law eventually cried fowl, or rather "foul," scorning the offerings as heedless, half-hearted tokens of concern.

"My life is falling apart. What help is a rotisserie chicken?" she would ask.

I could see her view. At the same time, I quietly had another. To me, those plump little peppered legs jutting from a butterball body represented a delicious desire to do good.

I saw the impromptu chicken deliveries as the kind gestures of a man who didn't know what to do but who wanted to do something. So he'd buy a self-basted bird. It made him feel like he was in the game. If he didn't score, at least he showed up and played. In my mind, he got points for that.

I sometimes find myself bumbling around, wanting to help when friends and family are down, but unsure how. I'm usually there saying, "If I can do anything, let me know." But rare is the heartbroken person who is going to pull out a day planner, highlight some tasks and start delegating.

Over the years, I've been learning to take a cue from the people who have helped me through my darkest times. Usually, they are people like my husband's grandfather, who just did something to meet a need. No one person has the power to resolve a complex trial or to instantaneously take away the pain. But what a sad, stark, lonely world if no one even tried.

I will never forget the cards and visits I received as a teen during a lengthy hospital stay; the grocery and gas cards and offers made and kept to help care for my children when I was frequently traveling to be with my mom who had a terminal illness. When my dad was in the hospital, a friend stuffed a backpack full of snacks, books, small toys and baby wipes for my toddlers.

During my darkest hours, I've had friends show up at my house with laundry baskets, insisting on taking my dirty wash, and dropping off hot, comforting soup and a loaf of bread. And sometimes, when I struggled to face the world, one would call me on the phone, hear me out and just pray out loud.

That's that kind of woman I want to be. One who considers the need, but doesn't obsess. Who just gets in there and shows some love.

If love be a rotisserie chicken, bawk, begawk.

Alicia Notarianni is a reporter and feature writer for The Herald-Mail. Her email address is

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