December 02, 2008
A Slidell Life Story
This is Miss R’s home. “There are many people from many places that I may never get to visit,” she said with shining eyes. “But, there’s a piece of every person and every state in my home, now. My children and my grand children are excited to be coming home soon.”
Currently recovering from knee surgery, Miss R is scheduled to have surgery on the other knee as well. She’s been living in an upstairs apartment in New Orleans with her son in a neighborhood that is known for its high crime rate.
There were two Baptist ministers in her family; her father and a brother. Two of her sisters became nurses. Miss R’s other brothers were contractors. They built her this house in 1949. She raised five children in this cozy home, and has been blessed with eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
She watched her grandchildren dring the daytime, so her children could work. She herself worked nights and sometimes, she would lie down with them on a blanket on the floor. For safety reasons, in case she ever drifted off to sleep, she ingeniously pinned their clothes to the blanket so they couldn't get too far without her knowing.
Her house used to be the gathering spot on her block. She was well known for her perpetual pots of red beans and rice with plenty of crawfish. It’s the flavor from the tails that makes hers so special. Neighborhood kids would come by after school. They called her the “Kool-Aid Lady” or “Big Mama.” Her garden and fruit trees were for everyone, and she loved to share. She’s especially fond of hummingbirds and “tweety” birds. She had one special friend in a mockingbird that would come and sing to her in her window.
She made most of her children’s clothes. She had one son who was particularly fond of loud flowered shirts. He was always wanting new ones, so she taught him how to sew.
The night hurricane Katrina hit, she had all her family with her; because that’s how they were taught – to care for each other. When the power went out, holding hands, she and her daughters ventured out together into the pouring rain - to pray. After the storm, her first concern was for her 76 year old elderly neighbor, and making sure she got help.
When it came her turn for help, FEMA turned her down. She decided not to appeal. She didn’t need them, she had Jesus. She knew the LORD would send help. A few times in between her stories she’d tell us it was time to get back to work, but we’d sit for a little while more, and she’d share more. When it seemed she’d run out of memories, she said, “I’ve loved talking to you. Let us pray.”
Those of us sitting stood and took the hand of the person nearest us. Her simple prayer started as an enthusiastic near-shout, “You’ve got these people here LORD – so take care of them! Thank you, Jesus!” She prayed over and over, “Thank you, Jesus.” She continued on non-stop, passing her love through our hands, until her words became a communal whisper from those of us who could still find a voice within our swollen throats. We prayed aloud for Miss R, for ourselves, and for those whose hearts were in their eyes and whose tears watered Louisiana soil.
Posted by jaselin at December 2, 2008 08:01 PM