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Yes, we have come to the end of our deep dive into the machinations behind TRACKING HAPPINESS: A SOUTHERN CHICKEN ADVENTURE. Read this post slowly. Savor it. After it is over, you can only get more Lucinda by re-reading the book…or listening to it. Perhaps see how my very southern narration impacts your experience of the story. And you can get it for free with an Audible trial. Could be a great experiment.

As always, if you’re just now discovering us, you can jump in now or go back to the first entry and catch up. If you jump in now, I can’t promise you it won’t be confusing, but it might be interesting too.

Ok. Last we left off: Lucinda was braced for one last important question Augie Green was about to pose at their fateful dinner. 

As I’ve mentioned, the emotional impetus for this novel goes all the way back to my dad being killed by a train when I was three years old. The inexplicable grief, the loss, the difficulty of a three-year-old to ‘move on’ generated the plot. Eudora Welty said we constantly re-examine the handful of themes of our hearts, and grief at the loss of a dad is one of mine. 

As you listen to this final chapter, though, I want you to listen for something else. When Lucinda explains what her dad was really doing as he sat on his front porch speaking to everyone who passed by, the wisdom of her dad—that was the wisdom of my stepdad. 

You see, though I lost my natural father, I gained a new dad. And from him I learned the value of people. He sat at the dinner table and told stories about men who worked in the warehouses of his company and the impact their lives had outside their jobs. “Everyone has a story,” he said, and I knew that was true because he told us their stories. As he aged, the most important thing to him was to stop and speak. Whoever it was—a clerk, an usher, anyone—he made eye contact. He asked how they were doing. Only then did he state his business. So, in a metaphysical way, Lucinda’s dad started out as my natural father, Joseph Henry Morris, but he ended up as my dad, Bayard Van Hecke. If you’ve enjoyed this series of free poop on the novel, and you’re thinking you’d like to do something to show your appreciation, I’ve included a link in the Footnotes to the preschool my dad loved. You can make a donation in his name if you’d like. When you see the faces of the little kids on the website, you probably won’t be able to resist. Otherwise, I will say my thank-yous to both of my fathers and bid you adieu. 

Today for the first and last time, we combine our Fun Chicken Facts with our Helpful Train Hints to bring you Helpful Train Chicken Fun: This moment is brought to you by TRACKING HAPPINESS: A SOUTHERN CHICKEN ADVENTURE. Buy the paperback online or at your favorite bookstore. Download the ebook, or tune into the audio book. Whatever you choose, enjoy the tale.

Now go read Chapter 26 of TRACKING HAPPINESS: A SOUTHERN CHICKEN ADVENTURE. And thank you for joining me on this journey. When you turn the last page, I hope you sigh with contentment. 

Helpful Train Chicken Fun: Once upon a time, chickens were transported by train. They had their own poultry cars. This was typically called “the cattle car” even though it carried chickens. By the 1980s, chickens on trains were rare. Today, they are extinct. And—to share the saddest fact of this entire podcast—so is the caboose. Yep, except for very special circumstances, trains no longer have cabooses, if that’s a plural word. So, in parting, I say goodbye to the chickens on trains and the little red caboose. We shall meet again in another world. 


Donations in honor of my dad Bayard Van Hecke: St. Martin’s Episcopal Preschool

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