My husband, Julian, our five children and spouses, eight of our nine grandchildren and three great-grand children gave me a marvelous birthday weekend. They rented a large suite at the beautiful Montgomery Bell State Park near us and decorated it with a New Orleans and Mardi Gras Theme complete with Dixie Land Music, Mardi Gras Masks, beads, balloons, flowers, and all kinds of tinsel spirals and confetti. There was an awesome feast of New Orleans foods. I was born in New Orleans, baptized in the St. Louis Cathedral and lived in the Pontalba Apartments on Jackson Square in the French quarter. We moved when I was six,and I have lived since 1961 in Tennessee, but somehow New Orleans and the French Quarter are still my hearts home. My grown children also put some poster size and other smaller collages of pictures of me from the various stages of my life all over the walls along with signs and pictures of New Orleans. I thought that was cool, until they started snapping photos of eighty year old me next to twenty and thirty year old me. No fair!
I’m not very good at posting photos. I couldn’t get them to stay in a reasonable line. They started stringing out.
Here I’m a Senior in High School in Houston
The challenges of old age and the feeling that time is running out have tended to bring out my sadder, wiser self.
The other day I watched a movie, A Little Bit of Heaven, and glory be, there was my old New Orleans’ French Quarter Self, just dancing like crazy to Dixieland bands. And remembering and loving the diversity of the French Quarter: black Dixieland bands, the St. Louis Cathedral, drag queens, street corner evangelists, jazz and blues drifting out of clubs into the street, pirate hangouts, like Jean Lafitte’s blacksmith shop, Antoine’s, Brennans, Antiques Stores, Rock and Weed Shops, the Cabildo, where slaves were once auctioned, tourists of every shape and size from Kansas to Japan, a clump of Baptist Sunday school teachers, huddled together for protection from all that blatant humanity,walking so closely knit that they looked glued together, nuns in traditional habits, Voodoo artists hawking their luminous paintings and potions.
I love it! I love it! I love it! All of it.
This is US, people……this wondrous, awful, frightening, lost, saved, becoming, struggling humanity; one and all beloved by a God so huge, complex, and awesome that He/She cannot be fathomed, only experienced and celebrated.
Taste and see the Goodness!
The same movie gave me my funeral….out doors, Dixieland band playing When the Saints Go Marchin In, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, St. Louie Woman, and you got it, Muskrat Ramble. Lots and lots of balloons, yellow flowers, wine, cappuccino, po-boys, shrimp, french bread, and everybody dancing.
I may need to have this before I die, so I get to enjoy it too.
It sounds weird, but I am excited about my funeral.
And I am so enjoying my old Muskrat Ramble self.