Story #1 ~ Jessica Ashley ~ 5/8/2006|
Our Amazing Immaculate Mimi
She has brought up five beautiful, loving, close-knit daughters who would all have given her the stars for all she has given them; and also had a hand or two in raising her grandchildren who would have given her the world and anything in our power. She has given and also taught me the true meanings of life and its lessons- family and love. Without her ever in our lives, we would have never known love, family, or friendship. She lived a long life that I am so very proud to have been a part of. I thank God everyday He chose me to be her granddaughter.
I would give anything to sit with my Amazing Immaculate Mimi again at the kitchen table and listen to the life lessons she had to teach. Anything at all.
At least I know in my heart that she is in a better place: her little green pirogue, surrounded by white and yellow daisies, smiling like she always did. Smiling the way I will always remember our Amazing Immaculate Mimi.
My sister, Florabelle
My earliest recollection of her was when we moved from the stucco house to the big house around the corner. Daddy had built a sleeping porch on the stucco house for Nita, Florabelle and me. I remember we all had the mumps at the same time and we played dolls in that room.
Shortly after, Anne was born on Dec. 24, 1922, and the house was too small, so Daddy bought the Streater house. It had 4 bedrooms upstairs. But Florabelle didn't want to move. We all started taking our things over to the new house - not her. She wasn't going - she liked the house where she lived fine! Eventually she was persuaded.
We all used to sit around the dining room table doing our homework waiting for Daddy to come home every night. He had to wait until the doctors came in to fill the prescriptions, and sometimes it was very late. He would bring home candy or ice cream and fruit. He loved oranges especially.
Florabelle's best friend was Genevieve Fitzgerald and they were always together, walking to school and back. Florabelle took piano lessons from Miss Anne Weber and was good at it. She always played the sheet music we wanted her to play. One of her favorites was "Whispering".
One day she and I walked to the restaurant at noon from school to meet Daddy for lunch. It was just the three of us - Mama had gone shopping out of town. She told us she and Leon were getting married. She was in love and it was all arranged with Father Allen. She later told me - years later when we were talking about it that she and Genevieve giggled during the whole ceremony. I remember her standing at the altar, but I don't remember that. I wasn't surprised though, because Genevieve was a first class giggler! I do remember how beautiful Florabelle was. The rest of us were always out in the sun, but she had a peaches and cream complexion.
She and Leon lived in the country with Mr. and Mrs. Frank at first, and Leon taught me to drive in that big front yard. Mama would have me take things out to her and I'd go the back way. I was about 13. Florabelle was trying to teach me to speak French because Mrs. Frank only spoke French. When I would say "Vache", she would laugh so hard she'd cry. I never got it right, but I did entertain her a lot.
Later, they lived in a house next to the big house and Leon grew cotton. He let me go out there to try to pick it with the men because I kept pestering him. After my hands got stuck a few times I quit.
I loved going over to play with her babies - they were so darling, those three little boys. Ellyn came later and was so special – those boys carried her everywhere.
Through all of her life she loved music and to laugh; it kept her going.
She made brownies for me and would send them to Grand Coteau and L.S.U. She was not only my big sister, but my most loyal friend and never judged me, but advised me. I could go to her and tell her anything.
Florabelle's treasure was her children - she loved them so much, also her grandchildren. She would tell me about each one - what they were doing and how proud of them she was. Her faith was strong, and she believed they would all be all right no matter what happened.
Genevieve died just a few weeks ago - I hope they're giggling together.
She liked to play and sing "Mares Eat Oates & Does - Eat Oats" and could bang it out!
In 1938 before they named the hurricanes, there was a terrible one. (I called it Lucky because we were lucky to be alive.) One Sunday afternoon all of a sudden the sky turned pink and everything got very quiet - not even a bird singing or a dog barking. My friend, Jan's dad said "we're in for a bad storm" and he told us to take everything out of the yard, chairs, etc. I went home and told Mama what he said. She had Florabelle and the boys come to stay with us. We all went to bed and I was sound asleep when Mama woke Florabelle and I and said we had to go see about her Mother. The phone had gone dead and the water from the Coulee was coming up to the house. Daddy had tried to get the car out and the water was up to the seats and he had a chill so she had put him to bed. It had turned very cold - so we put on coats and hats and galoshes and started out. The wind was blowing so hard we had to hold on to each other, and one of my galoshes came off. When we had gone two blocks, Florabelle said "We are not going by the park - we're going to get Nelson." Nelson had worked for Daddy for years and was like our big brother. He lived with his Mother and when we got there she thought we were crazy to be out in the rain and wind and begged us to stay there. But Nelson dressed and came the next two blocks to Main Street with us. We could hardly cross the street to the drug store because the rain and wind from the lake was so strong. We were able to save some products from the water because there was a leak in the roof. We called Mama from the store and left for Grandma's. Several blocks later we arrived at Grandma's soaking wet - hair straggling down. Agnes and Hugh were there, but they had taken Nanan Alice and Grandma up to the school house. I guess it was the eye of the storm, because we were able to get back home Okay. The next morning I looked out of my window and the sun was shining - my galosh was sitting out on the sidewalk and the water had drained back into the lake. Florabelle and I slept late and wondered how we survived electric wires, tree branches and wind.
When we were growing up Father Allen liked to make big productions at First Communion, etc. He was a musician and wrote music. Nita and Florabelle were in everything. There's a picture of them on the stage at school with crepe paper dresses - they were flowers. One of the songs was "Poor Little Buttercup" - the picture is on the wall at "Knot's Corner" in Lake Arthur.
I love all of my sisters for they were my best friends. At a time in my life when I needed guidance, Florabelle was always there for me to talk to and she made me feel better. I miss her already, but I feel her love and I know she's happy!