It happens about once a year when I visit my family in Louisiana. My sister Jo has lived there for over 45 years. Her boys are now grown men with families and directions of their own.
I love this part of our country, the scent of the gulf, the air that has it’s own personality and the slur in the tongue to it’s natives.
When you visit it is required to have a Po-Boy of either shrimp or roast beef and don’t forget to say “dressed” or else your sandwich will not be oozing in mayo and the lettuce and tomatoes will not fall out when taking a bite. We ate at Parkway in New Orleans, (voted the best in town) and my Po-Boy sandwich had endless fired shrimp with the crustiest bread, my inconsiderate appetite did not leave even one morsel for the birds.
I wanted to visit Baton Rouge but Jo would not hear of it. I also wanted coffee and beignet’s at Cafe Du Monde in the French Quarter’s but that too was not going to happen. I was not going be denied my picture with the back drop of the Mississippi, it took some coaxing but finally Jo and her son Nick drove to the Harvey Locks. I stepped down the deep levy and took in the scenery, a crane looked as if it was wading in the water and tug boat helped a bigger vessel navigate it’s way through the narrow path and the city was staring at us from a distance.
At first the photo shoot was a disaster, for some reason, probably because wearing white gives a distorted appearance, all my pictures were displeasing and unattractive. Nick was my photographer and as much as he attempted the worst the situation got. I had a great idea to move closer to the water’s edge, Nick warned me that the rock’s were unsteady, I insisted on sitting, the unsteady rock brought me down. It was not so bad but it was at an awkward angle that I needed assistance in getting up. Nick was laughing so hard that his arms were like over cooked spaghetti and had to collect himself before he could help! With the loud announcement of the fall I made a scene with the others enjoying the view sitting on the park benches above me.
We had dinner with Jo’s son Torie and his family. Stacie, Torie’s wife and their children Julia, and the twins Tyson and Jake and Myra, Stacie’s mother. After dinner a Bible study that with all the distraction turned out to be great. Jo’s oldest son Frank and Lindy were busy with their boys so our visit was short and sweet. Nick and Michele and their daughter Sophie had dinner with us the following day and another short Bible study.
The following day was an adventure of eating at The Mint, a trendy restaurant in the Uptown District. New Orleans infrastructure is still suffering the aftermath of Katrina. Almost every street is under construction and to find this restaurant even with navigation was an adventure of many wrong turns. Rocky, Jo’s youngest son beat us to restaurant and kept calling wondering where we were. I was lost in the beauty of the stately mansions, each with its own charm and character some of which were at one time plantations. From across the broad streets the old oak trees seems to greet each other with a friendly hug, I could not tell where a branch started and where the ended.
Everyone still blames Katrina for everything, they speak in terms of pre Katrina and post Katrina. Katrina, the category 5 Hurricane that sweep the city clean and then drowned it in salt water brought it’s citizens to it’s knees but also bonded them as one. No hurricane will ever destroy the the hearts of it’s people and New Orleans stands proof of this.
As Jo sweeps the floors of her business she listening to the Italian singer, Edith Piaf, sing “Non, Jo No Regrette Reim,” the only thing she understands of the lyrics is “no regrets.” My sister Jo is about to make a big transition in her life, downsizing from her empty nest to a smaller more quaint home. The move is exasperating and she need to organize and get ready for this new faze in her life. Since I can remember from our childhood she was always the one doing all the chores, running the errands for our family. The only change is now she is doing it for her family. She visits her ex-husband’s grave on a regular basis, reminding him how much he is missed and what he has missed out on. Her attitude is upbeat and within her family is known as the woman who can do whatever she put her mind to, to me she is just fascinating.