Thursday, November 16, 2006


Aunt Patsy's funeral - pre-planned by her to the nth degree - went off beautifully. The only hitch occurred when the Ruston cemetery's funeral home closed for lunch between 12:00-1:00 PM, even though the graveside service was scheduled for 1:00 PM. This meant that mourners, who had just driven an hour from Bossier City, had no bathroom facilities. The cemetery funeral home made the mistake of leaving an emergency phone number on their front door. Aunt Jane seized my cellphone, called, spoke direct animal talk to the Ruston people, and got the situation resolved.

A nice thing about revisiting Ruston is the smell of pine trees. The cemetery was covered in pine needles. The smell of those particular pine needles, aged in that particular humidity, cured in that particular sandy dirt, is immutably buried in the recesses of one's memory. Moreso, even, than seeing Ruston: smelling Ruston is a calming, soothing experience.

We drove by the city swimming pool. It endures as it ever did - an American classic. We drove by the old Post Motor Co. Mom says the basic structure of the building is still intact, though the building has been much expanded and changed. Hood's BBQ is long gone. The family farm is unrecognizable. The house had become a vet's office; then a BBQ shack. The last time there, I thought I saw stakes set up on the farmland, as markers for residential streets. This time, we saw no signs of that. There are businesses on Farmerville Rd, but we saw nothing much built deeper into the old farm. The property itself is unrecognizable(to me, at least). Landmarks are gone. Topography is changed. We could not orient ourselves very much at all.

Mom handled the traveling pretty well. She took 250 mile trips on consecutive days, and ended up in Denham Springs, to visit Bruce and Lisa and family, and Jefferson Baptist Church.

Bruce and Lisa are excellent. Courtney is doing fine at Southeastern Louisiana: majoring in Elementary Education, and in a boy named Jon. Baron's football season ended just short of making the playoffs. This meant he was able to take me golfing, where I could watch his 300 yard drives sailing either into the fairway, or 100 yards into the trees. Baron doesn't overly worry about where they go, so long as they go far.

Mom spoiled Hoss and Chaffie, feeding them people-food from the kitchen. These are very smart dogs. Mom noticed they were careful to make way for her, and to kind of run interference for her as she moved around, so she would not be tripped up and fall. Herding dogs are surely experts about body language. Chaffie is very motherly; very protective.

Jefferson Baptist Church - heavily pro-life, and pro-family - enjoyed a sermon about respectfully submitting oneself to the authority of one's elected officials. Done right(and it's mostly done right - contrary to Hollywood's hysterical interpretations), organized religion is a blessing for mankind. Over the last six months, Jefferson Baptist parishioners have sent many prayers out for Mom. We are grateful.

In addition to the dogs, Mom spoiled us, by cooking up a storm. Lisa hit upon the idea of having an early Thanksgiving celebration, so we did. Baron introduced us to the wonders of Cajun-spice injected turkey. Cooking is good therapy for Mom, ahem.

Mom usually walks through houses without using a cane. Her balance is improving, albeit slowly. When walking, Mom doesn't yet pick her feet up as well as she will. This is, I think, residue of the ongoing recovery from hip surgery. Mom has to walk carefully over uneven ground: a brick floor, uneven grass/dirt, uneven pavement, a ridge in a smooth floor, a rise of renegade tile.

Mom once had a problem with peripheral vision. This caused her to be in danger of catching her foot on chair legs, or table legs, or people feet. This problem has greatly dissipated.

Neurologically, Mom continues to be outstanding. She still tires more quickly than she one day will.

Mom has turned me into some type of Jewish (Italian?) mother: "Eat! Eat! Why aren't you eating?!" Tiny portions are perfectly wonderful by me. However, they should occur several times a day. Mom has no respect for the concept of eating throughout the day. Left on her own, she might consistently eat one small meal a day, sans vegetables. Her chosen meal might be one taco, and three tortilla chips. She would supplement this through the day with Coca-Cola, and coffee. Sigh. Maybe I'll look up the nutritional value of Coca-Cola. I know it has carbs.

P.S. This is the one year anniversary of the tragic death of my cousin: Donnie Van Meter. I wrote about his graveside service here.