HEART OF GOLD
In my mother's family, she was the only girl. She was not quite six when her mother, Grandma Parks died and she had two older brothers and one baby brother. After his wife died, Grandpa Parks lived with his children at a small hotel in the little town of Jeanerette. A Mr. Blanchard owned the hotel, and when the children's father had to be away, Mrs. Blanchard took care of his children for him. When my mother (Aline) was about ten, she took over the care of her brothers. I don't think she ever really had the chance to be a child, herself.
Aline had only two years of formal schooling, but was very intelligent. First from Mrs. Blanchard, and then from other elders, she learned a great deal about home remedies and taking care of people who were ill. I remember only a few of her remedies. At another time, in another place, I think she could have become a doctor, or at the very least a nurse.
She was about thirty-five years old when we moved to Kaplan from Mulvey, and her reputation as a caregiver was already well established. I don't think she ever acted as a mid-wife, but mothers with sick children called on her often for help. She would leave Dee in charge of her own family and go to help a neighbor in need, sometimes staying overnight.
Finally, the man of the house (my dad) explained to her that her first concern should be her own family, and said, "Enough is enough!" So Mom quietly got the message to everyone in the neighborhood that they could call on her only when her husband was out on a fishing or hunting trip. I don't think Dad ever caught on. And when baby Jerry was born prematurely, all the people she had helped came to help us. (Bread cast upon the waters!)
After we moved to Perry, her health began to fail, but she still found time to go down the bayou to help Bessie Foreman when she had a new baby, or when one of Bessie's children was sick. Dad never said anything about that, because Mr. Foreman was his friend. Or maybe he had learned that it didn't do any good to tell his wife what she could or could not do.
Mom had all of her babies at home, assisted by a mid-wife, except for little Jerry. Dad called Dr. Abshire in that time. And she always told us that if she was ever sick enough to go to a hospital, she would die. And that is exactly what happened. She died of heart disease at age 54, at Hamilton Hospital on St. John Street in Lafayette just a couple of blocks away from where we lived.
Copyright © 2001 Aline T. Meaux, Abbeville, LA
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