Title: Grandma's House
When I think of my grandma Julie Garland Halphen's house, a rush of smells, sights and sounds and a thousand sweet memories flood my mind. I see my childhood playmates, the Donald Chachere kids,
running everywhere, flying kites, and shoveling sand in the back yard. I smell the fragrant magnolia tree in the front yard and the musty damp smell of her front porch. I hear my three cousins, Piper, Dru and Bambi Halphen fussing over who will be first in hopscotch. I see us all playing jacks, and dolls, and cowboys and Indians. I see a safe secure fenced in back yard shaded by a giant
old pecan tree. The yard became everything our imaginations wanted. I see and smell the pretty blue hydrangea bushes next to the house that I hid behind playing hide and seek. I feel the year round warmth of Grandma's magic house.
My grandma was the most unselfish person I've ever known. She spent all her married life serving others and putting herself last.
She took in her husband Mike Halphen's sisters and mother when her
father-in-law died weeks after her marriage. She raised my mother and her 3 siblings and helped raise all their children and many of
their children's children. I do mean raised, too. Many of her
grand kids lived with her for several years.
Grandma's house was for me, about the safest most secure place I could ever want to be. I never remember Grandma saying it might not be a good night to spend the night. I was always welcome and she was always there with her big warm beds to sleep in, listening
to the Southern Pacific train go rolling by whistling and clanking and the rain pattering on her solid tin roof.
Grandma's second child Sonny was profoundly retarded and deaf from infantile meningitis. She cared for him like a baby in that home for over 40 years. I never once heard her complain. Trained as a nurse she gave several neighbors shots or any other care they needed without expecting anything in return. Grandma awoke early
and spoiled all of us grand kids with hot grits, fried eggs, bacon and biscuits every morning and slow drip Community coffee served with Eagle Brand condensed milk. I'm still hooked on those wonderful smells and taste. In summer Grandma always had homemade
vegetable soup for anyone who stopped by; in winter it was gumbo.
If I dropped in unexpectedly after swim practice with Chris and
Jeff Goudeau she made us run to Terracina & Lupo's corner store to get some of Tony's tasty T-bones. I've never since tasted any
quite so delicious since then.
When I was away at school for 11 years I'd stop at Grandma's first thing when coming into town for a kiss and hug and cup of coffee.
After starting practice in 1981, I'd stop during breaks when I was
on call for that some refreshing coffee and that peaceful secure feeling I felt uniquely at Grandma's house.
Grandma is in heaven now and her house is fresh and newly renovated. I'm sure it still has a special magic. If you're a grandma or grandpa I encourage you to make your home a warm, loving, and ever welcome place. Your grandchildren may just never forget it or you.