Evergreen - Memories Letters
Maurine Bordelon LaCour
The Bucket List, November 19, 2015
I graduated from Evergreen High School in 1955. In my mind’s eye that was a thousand years ago, yet I can transcend into my childhood instantly, with the memories that this website has provided to all of us. Thank you, Ed.
As I read the Memorials and saw Mr. Reid’s photograph, it seemed like time stood still.
I was that young girl again. While in his Literature class, we had to memorize The Raven and Shakespeare’s Macbeth “Out, out brief candle, life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more.” After fifty-five years I can still recite his teachings. He taught us well. As our class began, we would engage Mr. Reid in a question and answer session about the ball game the previous night. He would get so wrapped up in analyzing the game; the hour would be over before Mr. Reid knew it. Therefore, we had to work harder in our next literature class. I smiled as I reflected over our small class of nine students. But mighty we were, kindred spirits, Jean Riche, Sandra Goudeau, Huey Ducote, Ralph Juneau, Herbert Dubroc, Robert Hairford, Donald Spears, Betty Ortego and myself.
If I remember correctly, we were the first class to graduate either in a long white dress or suit and tie. That night I felt like I was ready to embark on a journey of a life fulfilled. My dream was to go to LSU; however, my parents were unable to provide that for me. My goal in life was to make sure we could provide an education for our two sons, Kevin and Monty, and they were able to graduate from LSU. Over the years, I periodically took college courses and at age 66 I was still taking classes. Now at 71 years of age, I am seriously considering enrolling in the spring semester again, or as my health allows.
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and then lymphoma. I am currently in remission and working with other cancer patients to help make the journey easier for them. I learned so much about myself, my family and my friends during this period of my life. I was blessed to have a friend that cared enough to spend the time and effort to help me during my darkest hours. So now I am ready to pay it forward. Luke 12:48. I prepare meals in my home to deliver to anyone in need. I learned that nutrition plays a huge part in the recovery of cancer patients. If any of my friends in Evergreen are diagnosed with cancer or has a loved one diagnosed with cancer, please call me at 225-673-1731. I have a wonderful book that was my nutritional bible during my recovery and helped guide me through what I needed to do to become whole again. And I have.
In 2001, I lost the love of my life, Percy M. LaCour, my husband of 43 years, my friend, my mentor, my stabilizing force. He was the Rock of Gibraltar when I wasn’t. He was kind, gentle and soft spoken. His concern and care for others was a trait we had in common. Over the years, he was the helping hand for the needy, the friend for the troubled. He gave from his heart and never took. How can I encapsulate all that he was? I am truly blessed to have shared my life with him.
Now, as the years slip by, I sit and write, remembering the days gone by, the times we were laughing children playing on an old merry-go-round on the school grounds of our Evergreen High School. Joyce, Yam and I talked to our friends on the long ride home, on a school bus with no air conditioning, waving good bye to each of them. Mr. Mayhall made each stop in progression, Mary Jo Ducote, Roger Mc Daniel, Ethel Robson, Geraldine and Betty Galland, Vivian and Martha Redmon, and just before our home, Earl Juneau. I can remember each of their faces. It seems like yesterday. I would like to go back through the looking glass one more time.
It was October 2006 and I went in for a mammogram. A lump was discovered and biopsied. It was malignant. It seemed so simple, but those three words changed my life. Okay, now we know, let’s deal with it. I decided to have a lumpectomy instead of the more invasive mastectomy. The rate for reoccurrence was only a 5% difference. The surgery was Dec 6 of that year, so I went in and came home the next day then hit the floor running. After all, it was Christmas and I had dinner to cook and presents to wrap. I did not have time for cancer in my life.
All was going well as I went through thirty three radiation treatments ending on March 1, 2007. A few weeks later, I was diagnosed with lymphoma, a totally different cancer not related to the breast. Now I needed to battle two different cancers. This time it had spread to different areas of my body, the neck, chest, under the arms, in the spleen and bowel. I needed to begin chemotherapy immediately. My treatment was to be eighteen weeks with each session lasting seven or eight hours. The first treatment was not so bad but by the second session I lost all my hair and the chemotherapy was beginning to wreck havoc on my body. When I tried to walk, I felt like I was carrying a 500 pound sack on my shoulders. Each step took tremendous effort, my legs were like jelly. I had no strength. I developed an inflammation in my lungs from the radiation treatment four months earlier which intensified my illness. I coughed 24 hours a day and finally after seven weeks of this, the doctors put me on prednisone and the coughing stopped. All I could see was this huge black tunnel and way off in the distance, I saw this pin hole of light. I could hear the Lord whispering “Look at the light, do not look at the darkness. Look at the light, look at the light, look at the light, over and over again.” I did.
Nights were the toughest. Each night had 10 hours, 600 minutes or 36,000 seconds. Each second seemed like a minute, each minute an hour, each hour a day, over and over again. My body can not rest, my eyes could not close, this heaviness weighing me down. The night seemed like an eternity and finally the first rays of daylight. I got out of bed and slowly, one step at the time, made my way to my recliner in the den. It seemed like it took forever but I made myself get up; laying in the bed would have been easy but I had a battle to win. I sat all day in Percy, my deceased husband’s chair. It was as though I could feel his strong arms around me again, just comforting me. I embraced that and allowed myself the luxury of those feelings. Through the clear windows in the room, I watched the trees swaying in the breeze. A bird flew by and landed on the patio table. He lingered, twitting his head from side to side, as though he knew I was watching him and needed that moment. Somehow it gave me hope. Enjoy the day! Look at the light! For tonight is coming, the darkness is there and I would begin all over again.
Evonne, my roommate, came home every night and did what she could to make me comfortable. She gave me foot massages to stimulate the lymphatic glands and brought me little things to help me cope. She read and read everything she could get her hands on and designed a health regiment for me. She told me I could make it. I believed her.
I was into my third treatment when I had to call my sons and tell them I could no longer do it alone. It would take me eight hours to just strip my bed and wash my sheets. I was totally exhausted and I needed help. They were there immediately; I do not think anyone realized what I was going through. A bowl of ice was put by my bedside and I slowly sucked the chips because my mouth could not produce saliva. My lips were covered with blisters so I could not eat. I lived on a half can of vegetable soup for weeks on end. My white blood count plummeted and I was in danger of infection so visitors were limited. However, Jeannie, my sister, and her daughter, Shantelle, began a weekly visit to my home to see me. Those times became very precious to me for they lifted my spirits. I knew that Jeannie was very special but I learned the sweetness of her spirit, how she goes along not making noise, not tooting her own horn but in her quietness gave to many elderly people. For years now, she has been helping others and nary a word. I grew from her presence. Jeannie’s encouragement helped brighten my day. Then, I listened to the words that Shantelle spoke and learned the depth of her character. There was a genuine kindness and compassion in her voice. She loved the Lord with all her heart and it showed.
My niece came by and did things around the house to help me; she went to the grocery and washed my clothes. My sons were diligent about stopping by and taking care of my needs, getting my medicine, installing aids in the bathrooms to help me get around. They came by often, even leaving work in the middle of the day when I needed help getting out of bed. Since my niece was not working she was always there, day after day. She vacuumed my room and changed my bed sheets to keep infections down. She helped me to the bathroom and brought me a home cooked meal. She put a cold cloth on my throat to ease my nausea. These small gestures became large blessings to me. My journey got a little easier with the care I was now getting, but the treatments intensified the toll on my body. I could barely walk anymore. Even having a walker did not help for now I needed a wheel chair. My Real Estate sisters began to shuttle me back and forth to my chemo treatments, which was another blessing to me.
9, 10, 11, 12. The weeks went by and the light was getting brighter as the dark tunnel began getting shorter. It was Sept 15, 2007 and I took my last treatment. Now the road to recovery was in sight. I knew in my heart that I needed to do all I could to never go down this path again. I was actually grateful that I went through it once, for in my walk I learned patience, tolerance, understanding and compassion.
Patience was learned from empty hours on a chemo chair waiting for the deadly drip that hopefully would heal my body. I learned to understand and tolerate all the changes my body was going through as I felt every part of my system being compromised.
Most of all I learned compassion, as I watched person after person being hooked up to a machine, knowing what they were going through, for I could feel and understand their pain. I had walked that road. It allowed me to ponder over each of them and their situation. Did they have a loving sphere of family and friends? How much suffering did they go through just to occupy that chemo chair for one day? How did they get there and where were they going at day’s end? Those thoughts were committed to memory, for one day I vowed to search for an answer. How can I help them, what can one person do? I knew that it was the Lord’s will, it was something I had to do.
One day, Renée, my daughter-in-law, called me and said she had a bible verse for me that someone had given her and she wanted to share it with me. Luke 12:48 from everyone who had been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. Those were the words I clung to in the months ahead. I needed to give back what had been given to me.
Sometimes it takes a major change in your life to bring you to your knees; for you to lift your eyes to heaven and give the Lord all the praise and glory for the blessings you have received. In those long months, I realized that Jesus was my strength, that he was the light at the end of the tunnel. My Lord lifted me from the depths of despair and made me whole again.
I started to attend Healing Place Church and joined several ministries. I began to look for people who were starting chemotherapy to share with them the things I had done to heal my body. I went on the internet and ordered dozens of the book Evonne had bought for me, What To Eat When You Have Cancer by Maureen Keene. I began to distribute copy after copy to any one that needed it. As I gave back, I felt I had a new beginning; I now had a purpose in life. The Lord was not finished with me yet.
Yes, my life is filled with blessings but I still have much to do. August 2008.
I wrote my testimony in August 2008 so for two years I went along trying to do all I could to help cancer patients, one at a time. By attending Healing Place Church, I began to grow in my walk with the Lord. I could feel the power of the Lord growing stronger in my life each and every day.
In April 2010, the doctors told me I was in complete remission from both cancers. I knew I had to give back what was given to me. My thoughts reverted back to the long eight hour treatments in the chemo chair with little or no food. I knew what the Lord was telling me to do. Go back to the chemo wards and feed the patients. But what can one 73 year old lady do?
One day Pastor Johnny Green sent out a survey asking if I had a passion to serve that the church did not know about. I wrote quickly, explaining how I wanted to feed cancer patients. My ministry “The Light” was accepted and registered with the church. I cleared everything with Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center so we could go into the treatment rooms.
On May 19, 2010, I searched the shelves of the local supermarkets for tasty nutritious snacks, individually packed and bought $58.75 worth of food items. I was a part of the Healing Place Church Helps Ministry, where we provide meals to people in need. So I formed the Helps Cancer Ministry as part of that. I called a meeting of six women, packed a basket of snacks and we made our first trip to Mary Bird Perkins. I was hooked, this is what I needed to do. I came home, looked at the empty basket and asked God “What do I do now?
The Lord told me very clearly. “My child, you have been obedient to me, now climb in the back seat and hold on, I am now driving this ministry.”
The ministry literally exploded, as things were going so fast I could not keep up so I starting grabbing the hands of amazing women, the angels in my life. The volunteers quickly grew to thirty four women and two men. Donations of monies and food items poured in and we set up a schedule of visits to the cancer ward of Mary Bird Perkins. We wore pink aprons and brought food, hope and encouragement and spiritual uplifting to our precious patients. They became our friends, they trusted us and knew we would be there but we knew we needed to do more.
The Helps Meals kicked in and we began to provide home cooked meals to the cancer patients as they were undergoing chemo treatments. Another of our outreaches agreed to cut the lawns of our chemo patients. The Tuesday prayer group gave us prayer blankets to give to our patients. We now do home visits to help out whatever is needed. One volunteer even picked a patient’s figs for her.
My greatest joy was the day I met a patient from Hessmer and she had traveled to Baton Rouge for her chemo treatments. She was living here until her treatments were over. We cooked for her and brought meals to her and her daughter. I will travel to Avoyelles to visit her when her treatments are over.
Today, October 5, 2010 in just 4 ½ months, the cancer ministry has provided over 6,621 snacks to 3,000 patients, and brought numerous home cooked meals to patients.
The ministry will be featured in the November issue of Perkins Perspective magazine. On Oct 1st we were on NBC33news to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness month. You can see it online at NBC33.
During this week, on Oct 7,8,9 we will be a featured story at the 2010 Live The Dream conference. You can see it live online at healingplacechurch.org during those days.
You can also catch us on twitter at follow@johnnygreen and on facebook.
If you would like more information on the Helps Cancer Ministry, please email Maurine LaCour at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 225-673-1731 or 225-270-8249.
This ministry has grown because of the generosity of people who also wanted to give back. There is zero administrative cost because everyone is a volunteer so all monies go directly to feeding patients. It is also tax deductible.
If you have someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer and would like a free copy of the book I used as a guideline, I would be happy to get a book to you.
Please send me your email address if you wish to get updates on cancer tips and information. We are in touch with cancer patients every day and it amazing how much you learn.
But most of all I ask each of you to please join us in prayer that the Lord will continue to bless us and give us the knowledge to find new ways to help ease the suffering of the cancer patients in our state. Cancer knows no boundaries and is not a respecter of persons. It touches every life.
October 5, 2010
Exactly what is a bucket list. Webster dictionary defines it as things that a person would like to do before they die. My bucket list. I knew without a doubt the items carefully compiled on my list over the years.. First, white water rafting somewhere in Seattle, did not matter where, just white water rafting, feeling the excitement of going through the rapids, water splashing on my face, conquering a fear. Second, zip lining. Why? Do not know. Maybe because I did not know anyone who had zip lined before Monty and Nick went. Could be I just wanted to be different. Maybe I needed to add things just so I would have a list. Did I believe that I could accomplish them? No. Not really! But deep in my heart there was one thing that I really wanted to do, needed to do and felt that I could do before I died. That was to go back one more time, to being a little girl, laughing with my siblings, to revisit the place where we grew up, the countryside near Evergreen, Louisiana. My sister Joyce, now 80, myself, 78, my brother, Philip, 75, Carol now 70 and Jeannie, 65. I dreamed of the five of us, traveling in a car together and going back in time, laughing, telling jokes, being children again. It was my bucket list. It was mine to own.
It was May 2014 and Joyce was coming to visit from Seattle. Five months earlier, in January of that year, I almost died from upper respiratory problems. I did not feel I could make it through another winter. In my heart, I knew that if I was going to complete my list, it had to be now. We planned a trip to the country and I thought it would happen. The attention was diverted to finding the Epps Plantation after the movie Twelve Years A Slave came out. I thought my dream was gone forever, I would not achieve my bucket list. I accepted that. Two months later, I was diagnosed with stomach cancer and I battled to regain my health. I had to do it. The constant thoughts of my bucket list was not far from the surface of my mind but I did not believe it would ever happen. It was gone. I just would not do it.
It was now September 2015 and I received a call from my sister, Joyce. She was coming for a visit in November to fulfill a mission, she wanted for me to complete my bucket list. She knew how important it was to me and she was determined I would have it. She loved me enough to make sure I would.
November 9, 2015. Our trip was planned, we were going to the country.
It was 8:00am as we piled into the car, ready for our adventure, the laughter had already begun. We were not going to lose a moment of our day so Carol prepackaged our lunch. Cold cuts on croissants, no stopping at a restaurant. We were going to eat at Aunt Ann’s house as we visited. Our schedule was made: arrive at the old homestead at 9:30, the museum at 10:00, the cemetery at 11:30, Aunt Ann’s at 12:30 and Georgie at 3:00. It really was going to happen. My bucket list. One important element was not there, our brother, Phil. He was unable to travel to share that day with us. It broke my heart for he was the missing piece to my dream. We would surely not have the laughter that his dry sense of humor would bring to our day and make it special. However, we were together, the four of us. I knew this day was carefully planned but somehow had to be spontaneous, we had to just let it happen.
As we went through the back roads from Lebeau towards Goudeau, we noticed how much the landscape had changed over the years. There was a nursery business that had opened. In my childhood, I never remembered anyone ever buying trees. We took whatever nature provided. Mom did plant fig trees cut from saplings of other trees, surely not purchased. We passed the old Goudeau home and the post office was there no more. It was the first signs what we would experience that day of the changes the years had made.
Suddenly, there it was. It came up quickly without our thinking of it. The small church that we attended as children. Look! Look! It is open, there are cars there. Stop! We must go in. Carol pulled into the small parking lot that may have had room for ten cars at best, one single row. We ran up to the steps and started taking pictures and a priest opened the door. He invited us in as we explained our visit. A lady with blonde hair was cleaning the altar. I sat in the front wooden pew just where my grandfather, Leo Barbin, sat every Sunday for years. PaPe was probably 5’6’, small in statue but a huge heart that loved the Lord with every fiber of his being. That man knew his bible and by golly, you were going to listen as he taught us each verse committed to his memory . All the visions in my mind played out in the few moments I sat in that small country church. I was that little girl again. I was quickly brought back to reality as I heard my sisters chattering excitedly. The woman on the altar was busily cleaning and beginning to place these beautiful flowers in a white plastic bag. Suddenly a flash went through my mind and I visualized my Mom, dusting the pews and sweeping the floors as she had many years ago, preparing for services the next day. Omg, that is it, I had to bring my Mom something from the church she served so I blurted out “ Could we please have one of those flowers to put on our parents grave today.” Yes, of course, the lady replied, I was going to discard them so you can have them all.” Today, our Mom’s grave was going to be the most elaborate in all the cemetery. She had dreamed of the beautiful flowers she would see in heaven and today they were going to be for her and Dad.
Giggling and excited we piled back into the car filled with huge bouquets of fragrant flowers. We headed for our next stop, the highlight and purpose of our trip, seeing the old homestead. When we arrived, we quickly got out of the car and scurried to the house. As we circled the outside area which was the kitchen, we spotted a huge old tree near where the cistern once was. I could not recall it ever being there but you could tell it had been there for years. I could not remember. We had prepared ourselves for what we would find , knowing in our hearts that our home would be in disrepair. However, I do not think any of us was ready for what we found. As we looked through the spaces that were once windows, all we could see that remained was a toilet sitting, like a statue commanding it’s presence, in the middle of what was once the bathroom. Like it was declaring, I remain, you will not take all of us. No walls, nothing, just a toilet with the lid missing. Everything was in complete shambles like a mighty storm had blown through our home and Daddy’s store. Just a shell. The 1200 square feet of cottage that held so many happy memories was now just a bleak reminder of how fast the years went by. Total destruction. Joyce said with tears running down her face “it is like a tornado of years” Yes, it was……
With heavy hearts we needed to continue our journey. . As we started to climb back into the car, we stopped to clean our shoes. It was almost symbolic. We had to release what was and move on, it was no more. We had gone through the looking glass one more time. We all agreed it would never be again. One last backward glance.
Next stop was the small museum located in the center of town on the front of property where the high school once was. Our beloved Evergreen High School was destroyed by fire in 1958. It also was to be no more. We searched through scores of books and papers looking for something that we could use. There was an old grade book that was used by one of the teachers and we found my name. Maurine Bordelon. Not too bad A, B+ and Cs. I was just a little girl in the fourth grade. I ran my fingers across the lines, hoping I could but not remembering one day of studying for those grades. They were still mine. Faded photos, nondescript writings, not much we could filter through to use in the cookbook.
The hours are passing quickly so we headed for Marksville to the cemetery with the trunk loaded with fragrant flowers for the many graves we were looking for. We knew that Grandma had 9 plots all together and that was where she along with Mom and Dad and other relatives were buried. I longed to find MeMe and Pape graves but knew not where. We would search however. We arrived at the cemetery only to find the gravesides were covered in a watery slush. The ground was soaked. It was not easy to navigate since the graves were four rows from the main path. We managed to get there and placed this huge bouquet of flowers on their graves. We knew we could not find our grandparents place, it was impossible. We scraped our shoes again without as much success as we had before. We realized that we were so engrossed in the situation that we now needed to stop and share our memories. We linked our hands together, held on tightly and prayed together praising the Lord for have given us that day. We were blessed to share our childhood, the values that kept us united as adults, the love for each other and our parents.
As we headed head back to Baton Rouge, the sun was slowly tipping the horizon with light gray rain clouds and we knew that night was coming quickly and our time was almost over. The day had been amazing but filled with raw emotions, good but sad at the same time. In analyzing the day, It was like there was a huge blackboard of happenings in our lives and someone had an eraser and was slowly eradicating each memory. They were gone, not there in reality but forever etched in our minds. Nothing, nobody, no force of nature could or ever would take that from us. It would come with us, the Bordelon siblings, into eternity less I share with you, through the pages of this story, then it could be remembered as we lived it. My bucket list, complete…..
Maurine Bordelon LaCour