We just got back from a draining trip to visit my aunt Debby, Dad’s sister. She was diagnosed earlier this year with small cell lung cancer, no doubt brought on by a combination of a lifetime of smoking and a lifetime of living in Louisiana. Recently her health worsened quite a bit, so we moved up our plan to visit her during the kids’ spring break. Instead, Arlene and Tom left Thursday (TOL-CVG-ATL-BTR) and Matt, David, and I left first thing Friday (DTW-IAH-LFT). It took a lot of fancy dancing on the part of Delta’s Medallion desk, but we ended up with five frequent-flyer tickets, though we couldn’t get in to New Orleans because of the Jazz Festival. Sadly, Debby passed away early Friday morning, so we extended our trip to attend her funeral on Monday.
Debby was a very practical, level-headed woman with a wonderful sense of humor. When I was a kid, she used to call me “Professor” because of my bad habit of correcting everyone around me (fortunately I don’t do that much any more!) I wish I had videotaped her description of her trip to Rome to visit the Pope last year; she had us all in hysterics with her descriptions of Italian men and her banter with the priest from her home parish who organized the pilgrimage. She really helped a lot as we struggled to come to terms with Dad’s death last year, and I will forever be indebted to her for teaching my dear wife how to cook a number of Cajun dishes, as well as how she welcomed Arlene into the family and made her feel immediately at ease.
It was really great to see everyone, though it was under sad circumstances. (Well, OK, I admit it: I was only somewhat pleased to see John, Lee Anne’s dad there. He kept going on about how great Texas is for some reason.) On the bright side, we got to meet Doug’s wife Shawn (who is a real keeper! welcome to the family, Shawn!), and all of us got to play with Russ and Allyson. That helped take the sting out some.
Having recently experienced it myself, I know how hard it is to lose a parent, the more so because Jody and Eric lost their dad in 1986. That puts them in the unenviable position of having to handle all the estate details themselves, precisely at the time when it’s most difficult to do so. Fathers Ron and Pat conducted a beautiful funeral mass, and that helped, as did having so many extended family members around. As always at any family gathering, the food was excellent. We made a side trip to Dave’s Cajun Kitchen, which I recommend in the strongest possible terms.