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Hats Off    |    by
Column dedicated to sharing news about community activities, service projects, and other events that are important to the life of the residents of our "mountain."

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published on 04/16/2007

Hats Off . . . to Grabbing the Dirt

By staff writer

When I was growing up my parents had two best friends. They were like my “second” parents. The man was my dad’s best friend in college, he a KA and my dad a Sigma Chi both at LSU in the early forties. When my dad dropped out of college to sign up for service, his best friend remained in school and graduated. This was because he had acquired polio as a child and so was exempt from serving.

After two years overseas, my dad returned home and immediately returned to LSU to resume his studies. In the meantime, his best friend had fallen in love with a tall beautiful brunette. She was in her second year at LSU and of course the first thing she did when my dad returned from the war was to introduce him to her best friend a petite little Delta Zeta whose face had been plastered across the LSU campus on the cover of a recent LSU magazine. So pretty, she modeled for the famous photographer, Fonville, whose photographs were known to be in galleries. In fact one photograph of this woman dressed in a Spanish gown and Tierra was redone by an artist and made into an oil painting and ended up somewhere in Europe (or so the story goes.)

And so the four became one doing everything together. My dad used to tell the story of the day he and his fraternity brothers went to my mother’s house and sang to her. That was the day she was made a Sweetheart of Sigma Chi. It wasn’t long after that when both men married their sweethearts and started lives of their own and yet they remained very close.

Both women struggled to get pregnant at first miscarrying several times. Then I was born, my brother eleven months later, a son for them two years later, my sister a few months after him, and then two more sons for them. We spent every Christmas with them, celebrated everyone’s birthday together, barbequed two or three times a month at one house or the other, and shared all other special occasions together.

As a child this couple was to be there for me at times of trouble when my own parents seemed not to be. We all mourned the loss of their middle son dying while still in his late twenties of a sudden aneurysm. Likewise, my dad became like a second dad to the sons of his best friend when their own father died suddenly of a heart attack while still in his early fifties. And when my father woke one morning and found my mother had died in her sleep at age 63, his best friend’s wife was there for him. They remained dear friends until cancer took her life ten years later and five years to the day my dad died of old age.

I share this story because I am what I am today because of these people. Their love for each other, their commitment to grow and raise a family together sharing holidays, holy days, weddings and funerals is something I will never forget. Just like the poker games, Fourth of July fireworks, LSU football games, barbeques, and birthday parties. These are memories that I will always treasure.

The way they cared for each other and us children taught me the importance of caring for my own family and nurturing good friends. Today, my children have strong relationships with each other and they are creating memories that they too will one day look back and reflect on. The seeds we plant today may scatter with the wind or they may root where they are planted. Either way is the right way. The trick is to grab hold to the dirt (life) and make it the best you can.