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Published November 10, 2008

Ollie Marie Barbin Bordelon was the most memorable woman that never was.
Ollie never was voted Woman of the Year.
Ollie never was a novelist that topped the bestseller list.
Ollie never was involved in fighting for equal rights for women.
Ollie never was elected president of the PTA.
Ollie Bordelon will be remembered not for all the things she never was…..

Instead, she will be remembered for the impact she left on those around her; for all the things that as a person she was…..

My name is Maurine.  I am Ollie Bordelon's daughter.

When I remember Mama, I think of these things:

I can remember Mama standing outside in the back yard with a hundred chickens flocking at her feet. Mama would have her apron folded up ever so slightly to hold the corn to feed the hungry chickens. Her eyes were rapidly scanning the flock so she could select the plumpest one for our Sunday dinner.

I can remember Mama going to the large garden planted twenty feet from the side entrance of our kitchen door. There in neat little rows were tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, squash, eggplants and butter beans. Three fig trees lined the north side of the ample garden.  Every morning Mama would get up at dawn and go into the garden to pick vegetables for that day's meal.

I can remember Mama bending over a hot stove with large kettles of boiling vegetables or fig preserves, perspiration pouring down her face. Jar after jar was filled with precision. After the lids sealed, each was wiped and placed on the top of the cabinets, row after row, 72, 73, and 74. She would unselfishly prepare the preserves to give to neighbors, friends and family. Mama not only gave from her abundance, she gave from her needs. She was the “helping hand” for everyone, with a smile on her face, never complaining.

I can remember Mama working in the fields with her children right by her side, hoeing cotton or sweet potatoes. Noon was always our big meal of the day so Mama would prepare a full meal with rice and gravy, usually smothered chicken or round steak. Leaving the fields about 10:30 to go in and fix dinner for any hired hands and ourselves.  After our meal, everyone would rest for the afternoon's work, however, Mama would spend her time mopping the kitchen floor or doing some other needed household chore.

I can remember Mama standing over the Speed Queen wringer type washer, lifting the wet heavy Levi blue jeans that we all wore to work in the cotton fields. I was a constant companion of my Mama, always by her side, holding those jeans, as she would pass them through the rollers. They would fall into the rinse water, which was prepared in a galvanized #2 tub filled with well water tinted with Mrs. Smith's bluing. In the heat of summer and the cold of winter, I spent hours in that outside washroom just listening, learning, and developing into the person I was to become.  My character was being molded by a kind and caring mother.

Images like these are what form an indelible mark in your life to make you the person you are to become.  You learn love, compassion, understanding and family unity. The first of these is love. Love begins the day you are born. When you are Ollie Bordelon's daughter you know that you are loved. She does not tell you a dozen times a day but you know it by the way she says your name. You know it by the way she strokes your hair as you sit at her feet. You know it by the way she softly hugs you when you kiss her goodnight. You know it by the twinkle in her eyes when she looks at you as you pass by her chair. You know...The seed is planted and you learn how to love.

Love develops compassion. Without love there is no compassion. You have to feel with your heart. Compassion is so many things. Compassion is feeling a tear well up in your eyes when you see a small child reach down and pick up a whimpering puppy.  Compassion is when you feel another person's hurt more than they do. Compassion is making a personal sacrifice to better the life of a friend. Compassion is taking time to go to funerals and weddings and baby showers even when you don't feel like it. Compassion is taking a Sunday afternoon to visit am old person in a nursing home. Compassion is cooking a hot meal to bring to a family during a crisis. Compassion is this and so much more.

Next, understanding and respect is the core of what makes relationships work. It is very difficult to form a solid relationship with another person without total commitment to nurture, to build trust and dignity, and to honor that individual.  Two different personalities trying to meld together require the comprehension that it must be a give-give situation and that you value that person for who they are. Never judging but understanding that it is not if you are right or wrong but how a person feels that count. You must be non-confrontational and learn to express your feelings in a communicative manner.

Finally, we must analyze family ties, which are so important.  People slip slowly through our lives like shadows in the night, disappearing with the dawn of a new day as we form vague remembrances. Then as years go by, we begin to form friendships with new acquaintances, and life goes on.  However, family ties bind us together to form an inseparable bond that can never be broken. That linkage is what we pass on to our children and our children's children. As each generation passes, our heritage grows stronger, like a chain that is lengthening with each new addition.  Ollie was the strongest link to ever be added.  She was.……...

Maurine Bordelon LaCour 11/10/08

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