My mother was Cousin Ola's best friend in the whole world and after Mom died, when I went to visit at Ola's house, she loved to talk about her. She always started with, "Mais, cher, you are just like your mamma!" and went on to tell me stories about Mom, things that had happened before I was born. I can still remember how Ola laughed when she told me the one about how Mom had "fooled" my dad when she was pregnant with my oldest sister.
Mom was what you might have called a pleasingly plump young wife. In those days she was considered "a fine figger of a woman." Today's fashion models would have been viewed as anemic or consumptive, poor things!
When Mom became pregnant with my oldest sister, she didn't tell Dad that she was "en famille." She had lost two previous babies, and didn't want him to be disappointed again, I guess. When he occasionally commented, "Pooyie, femme, you sho' are getting fat!" she only smiled.
Mom knew that her baby would be born in April, several weeks after the end of the sugar cane harvest, and that her husband would be off working with his brothers-in-law, harvesting oysters. She still didn't tell him she was pregnant. The poor man went off to earn a bit more money, not knowing what was going on.
When Mom went into labor, she called for Catherine, a local black woman who was a skilled midwife, and my sister was born at home.
When the baby was about eight days old, Dad came home. When he walked in he was greeted with the sight of his wife sitting in her rocking chair, smiling and holding her baby in her arms. I'm surprised the new daddy didn't have a heart attack! Mom told him his little girl was to be named Catherine, after the midwife who had helped deliver her. So Alice Catherine Theriot became her name. She was later nicknamed "Nan."
I found this story kind of hard to believe until I became pregnant with my #2 daughter, Mary Alyne. I was having problems with a pesky gallbladder and had to watch my diet. Many an evening, I served a big platter of fried chicken with fixings to Joseph and our two children, Dave and Cissi, and then went out to the porch to sit and eat my supper of seedless grapes. Instead of gaining weight, I lost twenty pounds and I never had to wear maternity clothes. It would have been easy to "fool" my husband if I had wanted to.
Copyright © 2002 Aline T. Meaux, Abbeville, LA
this window to return to the "On the Bayou..." listings
(Left click on the "X" in upper right-hand corner of this window.)