A number of years ago I sat down to write a Thanksgiving column, and decided to take the easy way out and just list things for which I was thankful.
I started writing about my little family, and before I knew it I had filled up the entire column just telling of these folks and what they were up to.
So once a year on this day I write, as much for myself as anyone, about the small band of folks to whom I can claim kin.
We’re pretty scattered about, and we don’t see each other as often as we should, but they’re still family and I still love them.
It was a good year for Lady K.
She’s been able to combine her love of art with her desire to help people with mental illnesses.
A highlight of her year was a successful art show, in which the people she works with presented, and sold, their work.
I’ve never seen her happier than when she saw the smiles on their faces as they enjoyed their achievements.
Daughter Tammy is hard at work trying to win the title of World’s Best Grandma, dividing her time between Lafayette and Diamondhead, Miss., to see her two grandkids in each city.
She’s retiring from her position at Lane hospital in Zachary, but happy to be a part of that growing community.
Son-in-law Boyce, retired as Zachary fire chief, is busier than ever — serving on the Zachary Community School Board, working on Kiwanis projects, umpiring softball and doing plant safety work.
Granddaughter Katie is launching a new career in the insurance business in Lafayette, where her husband, Glen, works in the oil industry.
Great-grandson Ethan started “real” school this year, and his sister, Emma Claire, is turning out to be as much of a handful as her mom was.
Granddaughter Mandy and husband Corey, both nurses at a Slidell hospital, find it a much easier commute from their Mississippi home than their previous jobs in New Orleans.
Great-granddaughter Leah is so bright and bossy that you forget she’s only 3. She’s convinced that sweet little sister Macy is “her” baby, kind of a super-realistic doll.
Son Tommy, (known as “Pokey” in Zachary for some reason), retired as deputy fire chief there, but is back at work as safety director at Lane.
He spends his spare time on the road (sometimes on his motorcycle) visiting his sons in Pineville and Hammond.
Daughter-in-law Nicole is still in the hairdressing business, beautifying the ladies of Zachary, one head at a time.
Granddaughter Tayler is doing lab work at Lane (if you’re counting, that’s three family members at the same hospital), and her husband, Adam, is a firefighter in Baton Rouge and Zachary, where they live.
Grandson Ron is enjoying college life at Louisiana College in Pineville and hunting in the wilds of central Louisiana while he waits for baseball season (he’s a left-handed pitcher) and, I hope, spends some time on his studies.
Grandson Clint is also in college, spending his freshman year at Southeastern working as a student manager of the baseball team and planning a career in sports administration.
Little brother Louis, in Oakdale, has reached retirement age, but still enjoys selling Kubota tractors (almost as much as riding his Harley).
He and wife Jane, retired as a high school guidance counselor, find time to visit their five grandchildren: in Reno, Dr. Judd and Stacy’s twins Jakob and Justin; in Metairie, lawyers Jason and Marian’s Jackson and Colin; and in Houston, oil man Josh and nurse Melissa’s Vanessa.
Lady Katherine’s sister Valeri is still devoted to promoting New Orleans and nurturing its tourism business.
Her son Wil and wife Jen, living in the Detroit suburbs and doing computer work, presented the family with its newest member this year, little Arabella.
Val’s younger son Wes, an economic development researcher (just returned from Saudi Arabia), lives in Chicago with wife Michelle, a dental hygienist.
Always at this time of year my family and I recall the loss of my grandson Landon, who fought spina bifida for 15 years before it finally won.
We haul out the old photos of him — birthday parties at Hooters where he’s sneaking a sip of Corona; LSU baseball games where he’s wheeling around Alex Box Stadium cheering on the Tigers; wheelchair tennis matches; high school proms where
he puts the “roll” in rock ‘n’ roll.
We laugh a little, shed a tear, and give thanks, as always, that he was with us for those years.
Write Smiley at Smiley@theadvocate.com. He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.
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