Jeff's Story

  • By J.M. Morrow Nursing Home
  • 22 Oct, 2015
So far, all of the stories from "Around Our Home Away From Home" are about ladies. I noticed that there is a larger percentage of women than men in the nursing home. Why this is so is interesting to study. (See #1 and #2 at the end) When we gather for programs at the nursing home, there are just a few men and a room full of ladies. This Thursday, I think it is time we record the story of one of the gentlemen at J. Michael Morrow Nursing Home. Jeff comes to mind immediately.

There is a dignity to all of the elderly I encounter. I am always touched by the importance of their independence, or what is left of it. I remember how much my parents helped me as a child, and even in adulthood. My Dad died at 45; but, my Mom lived to almost 89 and I depended on her for so many things. I still miss her and her “words of wisdom” still ring in my ears. I will always feel a great sense of loss for my parents. They cared for me and nurtured me. Too soon, it seemed, our roles were reversed and Mom could no longer care for herself. My sister Mavis lived next door to Mom and she carried most of the load. I helped and it was then I learned how important it was to allow Mom the dignity she deserved.

Life is constantly changing and we have to learn at each step along the way. Maintaining dignity is crucial for our seniors and I have frequently been reminded of the time we cared for Mom when I see one of the nurses helping a resident at J. Michael Morrow. They are masterful at helping the elders maintain dignity.

Jeff is a dignified gentleman and I always enjoy visiting with him whenever I see him.  I am eager to find him on this beautiful fall morning.

Jeff’s room is empty. Disappointed, I turn to walk down the hall and I smile as I see Jeff headed my way. He is neatly dressed, shaved and has a fresh haircut. That’s where he has been, he tells me. Dale Andrus cuts his hair. I explain that I feel it is time for a “guy story” and there is no argument from Jeff. He quickly agrees.

Whenever there is a function at the nursing home, we can count on Jeff to lend a hand. First, he knows what is going on. He is on top of things. He helps with the Communion Service on Sunday mornings. He has called Bingo. He arranges the chairs and he always has the mic set up. He even checks the batteries. When a program is over, Jeff waits for the room to clear and then he goes to work rearranging the chairs and returning the mic. These are just a few things Jeff does. I think, we take him for granted. He does much more. Jeff is a very pleasant man. He is always well groomed and you can also count of Jeff’s smile.

As we begin our visit, I am curious about how Jeff became so helpful. And, how long has he been at J. Michael? Where did he grow up? Jeff knows the answers; but, he maintains control. He begins with what is important to him, his wife’s illness. For Jeff, life really began when he married and that life lasted over 66 years.

Jeff’s wife became ill, he explains. He noticed that she was becoming very forgetful. A visit to the doctor’s office confirmed what Jeff suspected: She had Alzheimer’s. When it became necessary to live at J. Michael Morrow Nursing Home, Jeff visited and continued to take care of Thelma. She was at the nursing home for 13 years. Jeff grew up being responsible for family and there was no question that he would take care of his wife until the end. But, Jeff had health issues of his own during the last three years of his wife’s life. As time went by, Jeff suffered with leg cramps and it was determined that he needed stents in his legs and one stent in a kidney. It was six years ago, Jeff made J. Michael Morrow his Home Away From Home.

Jeff grew up in Pecannaire and Leonville. His mom was a Liviolette and Jeff has had sisters, brothers and half-sisters and half-brothers. Jeff was the oldest of his group of siblings. They grew up on a farm where everyone worked, his mother included. Jeff’s mom had a home to maintain but also a garden to tend and she had to care for the usual farm animals. If there was to be milk for the family, the cow had to be milked. In addition to that, Jeff’s mother took in sewing in order to support her family. Jeff learned to do the chores so that his mom could sew. Jeff even learned to embroider and enjoyed that very much. Where children now play computer games, Jeff’s generation learned to entertain themselves doing things like embroidering. Seems like he would do whatever needed to be done to help his mother. (That’s where he learned to be helpful!) As Jeff became capable, he cooked, cleaned house, tended the garden and animals and he took care of the younger children.

The children of this day will have a hard time believing this, but, Jeff walked almost two miles to school. As many others of that time, Jeff attended school until about the 7th grade. By that time, Jeff earned money delivering newspapers and the money he earned was not play money. It was to help his mother support their family.    

Tony Chachere was a wholesale drug supplier for the general merchandise stores of the area. The company Tony Chachere started was the Louisiana Drug Company. (See #3 at the end) Jeff explains that there were several competing wholesale drug companies. Each supplier developed a territory. A salesman, or “drummer” as they were called back then, would visit the stores in a territory and take the orders for non-prescription drugs like aspirin, castor oil, Mamou Cough Syrup, Bon Soir Bug insect repellent and even some hardware items. (See #4) And, no, there was no Tony Chachere Seasoning back then; but, as many wholesale drug companies did, Tony Chachere and his Louisiana Drug Company had a lab. They made some of the products they sold. For example, Mamou Cough Syrup and Bon Soir Bug were products made in their lab.

Click on the links at the end to learn more about Tony Chachere and to see pictures of some of the places which, no doubt, became familiar to Jeff as he drove the streets of Opelousas, Port Barre, Krotz Springs, Melville, Kinder, etc., as he delivered orders to the general merchandise stores in the territory that Louisiana Drug Company serviced.

Jeff recalls that at one stage of his life, he worked in the oilfield in Crowley for Fred Wyble. He worked on a crew that constructed the board roads. It was wintertime in the rice fields and Jeff had to walk knee deep in mud. He and a fellow worker carried boards that were about 12 inches wide by 30 feet long. Sinking in the mud was not fun and especially when his partner dropped his end of the board and Jeff’s shoulder took the hit. He quickly learned that this was not the type of work he was cut out to do.

The next job Jeff remembers was driving taxis for Frank Diesi. The hours were long but Jeff fell in love and married during that stage of his career. Jeff was 17 and his bride, Thelma Stelly, only 16. “She was beautiful,” Jeff says and he points out her picture on the bulletin board over his bed. In the end, the last two years of her life, she did not speak but she kept a smile on her face. Such are his memories.  

What is also impressive is the many medals Jeff has won since he is at the nursing home. He competes in Senior Olympics and any other competition that is presented. Just as he had done throughout his life, Jeff pushes hard and he wins!

At one time, Jeff worked in Arnaudville for Raymond Schexnayder. The Raymond and Jeff team opened the store which is presently Dollar General, across from the Vincent Darby house. Jeff worked as the Assistant Manager for Raymond. He was a buyer, stocked shelves and performed all the duties required of him. “I’ve been dealing with the public all of my life, "he explains.  

Before his job with Raymond Schexnayder, Jeff worked for Sunbeam Bakery for 32 years. His delivery route was from Port Barre to Krotz Springs and Melville. Jeff drove that route six days a week but not on Sundays. He advanced to the position of superintendent for Sunbeam and worked out of the Scott office.    

Next came a move to Lake Charles while he worked for Sunbeam Bakery. Jeff remembers that his youngest son met a girl in Lake Charles and when Jeff and his wife returned to Leonville, his youngest son stayed and remains in Lake Charles today. When Jeff returned to Leonville is when he went to work with Raymond Schexnayder. After he left Raymond, Jeff was mowing his lawn in Leonville when Howard Champagne of Champagne Marche stopped and asked him to come to work at the grocery store. Jeff worked there for 4 or 5 years.

For a man with little education, Jeff is proud of his career and how he was able to support his family. With his many years on the road delivering products, Jeff is thankful that he was never involved in an accident. He remembers how he had to be careful on Highway 190 between Port Barre and Krotz Springs. Many accidents happened on that route.

Jeff and Thelma had four children. The oldest, Charles, lives in Opelousas and is retired now but worked for the fire department. Next was Roger who lives in Leonville and worked in the oilfield. Jeff’s daughter, Pam, lives in Austin and she is also retired but, Jeff giggles as he says: “She loves to pet sit.” The youngest is Jeff Jr. He lives in Lake Charles where he does electrical work in the big plants and businesses.

Only the oldest, Charles, was born at home. All of the other children were born at Opelousas General Hospital. His wife was a natural born mother and had no problems delivering her babies and caring for them.

Jeff and Thelma were content at home and never felt the need to go out and party. They did not drink but enjoyed cooking and spending peaceful time with their family. Jeff says: “We were family people.”

Jeff is involved in the many activities at the nursing home. In his room, there is a television; however, Jeff dropped one of his hearing aids and is unable to have it repaired at this time. In addition, Jeff’s roommate is ill and does not speak and so Jeff feels it would be rude to play a TV at the volume that would allow him to hear.

Jeff sleeps well. At 87 years, he is sufficiently busy. Having worked for most of his life, Jeff keeps the habit of getting up early and preparing for his day. He is happy when he can help anyone who needs him. He says: “Anything I can do to help anyone, I am happy to do.” Jeff is a member of the Knights of Columbus and his Catholic faith is very important to him. He attends the Apostleship of Prayer Nonco Meetings faithfully and assists at the Knights of Columbus Communion Service on Sunday mornings. On the last Saturday of the month, he leaves the nursing home to attend La Table Francais at NuNu’s on Highway 93 in Arnaudville.

Now, Jeff is not the typical resident. He has a car and zips around Arnaudville and the surrounding areas for his haircut and to take his fianceé, Elsie, on little outings. Yes, Jeff is engaged to a resident at  the nursing home. Elsie and Jeff met there two years ago, when Elsie came for rehab as a temporary resident and they “hit it off.” Jeff never dreamed he would marry again, but meeting Elsie changed his mind. Now that Elsie is a permanent resident, Jeff has asked her to marry him. Both families are very supportive but, although Jeff has the paperwork ready, no date has been set. Jeff is hoping to marry Elsie soon. At that time, they will share a private room and enjoy life in their Home Away From Home.

Jeff and Elsie are the King and Queen of J. Michael Morrow Nursing Home Pageant. In April, they were selected as runners up for the Region 3 Pageant which was held at the Little Flower Auditorium in Arnaudville. Read more about the Pageant by clicking on the story entitled "J. M. Morrow Nursing Home Hosts Region 3 Pageant."

Jeff loves it at J. Michael Morrow. Jeff says what makes life special for him is that he can help do things. When he finishes eating, he likes to help clean the tables. That makes him feel at home and it’s good exercise, he adds.

Jeff states that the food in the nursing home is very good. It is just impossible for the food to be seasoned to accommodate all of the diets of the residents. His experience with Tony Chachere Seasoning has given him the ability to mix his own to add to his meals. He has a supply of ingredients which he enjoys blending so that his meals are seasoned to his liking.  

Jeff functions better when he keeps his routine. He likes to shave at 3:30 in the morning, the same schedule he has maintained since his Sunbeam days. He takes his bath in the whirlpool instead of a shower. He has someone who helps him since it is difficult for him to bend. Jeff keeps his room very neat and fixes his bed himself. He uses a walker but he is strong and carries himself with pride.

During the month of August, 2015, two French students volunteered at the nursing home and the residents quickly fell in love with the girls.  Marie Aureart and Margane were delightful to have around.  Pictured above from left to right are Marie, Jeff and Margane.

I thank Jeff and he walks me down the hall to show me Elsie’s room. She has seen me go by and she will tell her story soon. It is easy for me to see why Jeff fell in love with this smiling lady who is interested in learning more about Jeff and his life. There is still so much to look forward to.

______________________
  1.  “Why Do Women Live Longer Than Men?” by Christopher Middleton, Newsweek, August 1, 2014 - http://www.newsweek.com/2014/08/08/when-it-comes-long-life-there-no-gender-equality-262578.html
  2. “Why Women Live Longer than Men” by Thomas T. Perls, M.D., M.P.H., Harvard School of Medicine and Ruth C. Fretts, M.D., M.P.H., Harvard School of Medicine - http://jerrymondo.tripod.com/lgev/id2.html
  3. Tony Chachere - http://www.tonychachere.com/tony-chachere-himself/
  4. Louisiana Drug Company - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Chachere
  5. Opelousas Historic Tour – Item 53 - http://www.cityofopelousas.com/sites/default/files/City%20of%20Opelousas%20brochure%20paginated%20sm...

Around Our Home Away From Home, Our Stories

By J.M. Morrow Nursing Home 18 Oct, 2017
Thursday, October 12, 2017, is Movie Time! Once a month, Sandy Esteve and I host a movie. Sandy installs a curtain over the window next to the television. The Activities Directors pop popcorn, lights are dimmed and "My Fair Lady" is on. A whole movie is just too long so we watched the first half in the morning and then it was lunch and nap time. Sandy and I returned at 2:00 p.m. for the second half of that eight Academy Award winner with Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn. It was a hit! We are thinking of showing "The King and I" next month; but, one of the gentlemen(?), who is in his 90's, thinks we should show a Playboy flick instead!

On Mondays at 2:30 p.m., it is Bingo time. Usually, there are about 35 residents who play. This week, 38 showed up.  The residents love Bingo and I would think that this is a great activity for senior citizens. Gloria Hebert, one of the regulars, says "Bingo works your mind."

I don't know what prompted me to volunteer to call Bingo; but, I am so happy I did. I love it as much as the residents. Everyone is always eager to start and the Activities Directors tell me that I cannot break the rules and start early. I have to start at 2:30. So, about 2:15 or so, with mic in hand, I start my little program. We pray an Our Father and we recite the Pledge of Allegiance and then, we practice shouting BINGO!! I am old too, I tell my resident friends. My hearing is failing. After I can hear them shouting Bingo! easily, we move on to hand, arm and neck exercises. No, the residents are not eager to exercise but, they put up with me because they love Bingo.

Gloria Hebert plays two Bingo cards--one for herself and one for her husband, Lloyd, who patiently sits next to her. Lloyd has Alzheimer's. He looks as though he is in perfect health and very strong.  After visiting with Gloria following Bingo last Monday, I understand just how damaging that disease can be, not only to the patient, but to the caregiver as well. I recalled Nicholas Sparks' "The Notebook" as I sat chatting with Gloria after the nurse wheeled Lloyd to their room.

Gloria was born in Pointe-aux-Chens, a community in Terrebonne Parish near Montegut. The story of the life of Lloyd and Gloria Hebert  continues:

"My family lived in Houma. We moved there when I started high school. My parents had six children, three boys and three girls. I still have a sister and two brothers who live in Houma. I have one sister who was a French teacher who lives in Alabama. The others are deceased.

"I graduated from Terrebonne High in June and got married to Lloyd Hebert in July. Lloyd was born in Chauvin and we met in high school in the General Science class. I couldn't draw worth a hoot  and  Lloyd did my drawings for me. It was the start of our wonderful life. Through life, dancing was one of our favorite activities.  My dad had a dance  hall in Pointe-aux-Chens.  I was brought up in there and learned to dance at a young age. Seems like Lloyd always knew how to dance.  He and I have danced many a dance, at home and whenever we had the opportunity.  Even now, I dance a bit in our room at the nursing home.
 
"Lloyd joined the Marines after graduating from high school and was stationed in North Carolina where we lived as newly weds. We also lived in South Carolina before Lloyd was discharged and we returned to Houma. We both went to work in a shrimp canning company in Houma. Lloyd was a Jack's Cookie man for ten years. He was transferred from Houma to Hammond.  At one time, Lloyd and I lived in New Orleans where our two oldest children were born. My dad was an oyster man. Lloyd went to work for him at the French Market. Lloyd would stay there at night and sell sacks of oysters.

"I've been involved with the seafood business for most of my life--first with my dad, and then with Lloyd when he started his own seafood company. Lloyd went into business with Albert "Tubby" Lyons, a man who ran for State Representative at one time. He and Lloyd formed a partnership but when Tubby passed away, his wife took over the business. Lloyd went to work selling oilfield supplies and then after consulting with a lawyer, he decided to open his own company. We rented a building in Moss Bluff for our retail and wholesale seafood business.

"Lloyd did his own cooking. He made, among other things, stuffed crabs, stuffed shrimp, boiled crawfish and etouffees. After we got that running well,  we opened a restaurant in Moss Bluff close to Highway 171. We bought a grocery store and converted it into our restaurant which we named 'Lloyd's Cajun Kitchen.' Lloyd developed his recipes and prepared the food. He cooked everything. All kinds of seafood. At one time, we started with steaks but people were too picky. For one customer, Lloyd fixed three steaks before that customer was satisfied. The next day, we took steaks off the menu.

"The restaurant and seafood business was a lot of work for Lloyd. In addition to all of the regular work, he would drive to Houma to pick up the seafood--oysters, shrimp, etc., he needed.

"I worked in the business too. I did the books and when the restaurant opened at night, I worked the register. Sometimes a member of the staff would not show up and I had to pitch in. Or, the cooks would come in drunk and I would have to help there. I had to carry the trays, did dishes, whatever had to be done, I did it.

"It came a time, a Christmas Eve, when Lloyd called to tell me that he was closing for the holidays. I told him to close the restaurant and leave it closed. I told him he was no longer in a shape to do all of that work. I asked him not to post a date when we would reopen. The restaurant business is very hard work. The crowds were large. The people would stand outside. We would have had to build another restaurant or add on to the one we had to accommodate all of our many customers.  Of course, they were very disappointed when we closed. They wanted us to reopen.

"But, Lloyd had high blood pressure. He needed surgery on his knee that was hurting him.  He was in no shape to be working.  In the end, my sons had to come and help Lloyd because he was in so much pain. I never regretted closing the restaurant. It was enough."
By J.M. Morrow Nursing Home 30 Aug, 2017
Lucille knows how important it is for families to leave their words for the younger generations. It is truly giving of yourself. Lucille knows who her parents and grandparents were, what they did, and what they endured. Sharing this information with her family and now the J. Michael Morrow Nursing Home community and beyond, records history. In addition, it just feels good to laugh when we relive those special family
stories.
By J.M. Morrow Nursing Home 18 Aug, 2017

I've been calling Bingo on Mondays at 2:30 at J. Michael Morrow Nursing Home.  It is so much fun for me and the wonderful residents seem to enjoy every minute.  At first, I struggled to hear their "Bingo" calls.  So, on my second visit, I explained that I, too, was old and my ears were not as good as they once were. I asked everyone to shout BINGO!! And, they did. We practiced several times. Next, I told them about my stiff fingers and several admitted that they too had stiff hands and fingers. So, a few hand exercises and stretches (and lots of laughs) followed and then everyone was ready for that first Bingo game.  

But, although I love to call Bingo, today, August 7, 2017,  I had something else in mind. I asked the Activities Directors, Mary and Andrea, if I could visit Lena Miller instead. Of course, they agreed and they happily called Bingo Monday.

Facebook is an amazing way to connect with people. Tracy Petit Frederick sent me a message via Facebook regarding a picture of Cecelia Elementary School children..  Tracy's husband, Craig Frederick, is a nephew of Lena's.  And, Lena and Craig share a birthday, August 10th.  Tracy told me that Uncle Luther, Aunt Anna and Craig were taking Lena to Little Big Cup, a restaurant in Arnaudville, to celebrate Lena and Craig's birthday last week. It would be Lena's 88th!

Tracy said:  "Since she  (Lena) has been in the Nursing Home, we have made an annual tradition to take her to lunch. Her brother Luther and sister Anna come with us and we are occasionally joined by other siblings when they are available."

The contact with Tracy made me want to write the Lena Frederick Miller Story. In addition, Tracy volunteered to send pictures and bio. I was on my way!

On Monday, I walked to Lena's room.  There are two beds in the room. The first bed was empty and a lady slept peacefully in the other. I walked back to the Nurses Station and asked if Lena Miller was in the second bed? She confirmed that was Lena's bed and so I went back and sat in Lena's comfortable chair for about 15 minutes. She did not stir. She continued her soft, easy breathing. I wrote her a note on an Apostleship of Prayer leaflet for August, left it on her bedside table and decided I would have to try again another day.

Several of my friends were sitting in the hallway and I shook hands and got hugs and I just hated to leave. So, I decided to visit with Bertha Powell and Rita Bouterie down Hall A.  As I entered their room, they were trying to open the water pitcher to get ice for their cups. I joined in the action. Soon, problem solved,  I was sitting on Bertha's bed and we were visiting like three teenagers. I took my phone out and showed Rita and Bertha their nursing home website stories and pictures that  Sandy Esteve and I had written and a whole hour passed in friendly conversation and much laughter. I got my goodbye hugs and started down the hall and without thinking I was at Lena's door. She was sitting on her bed.  I introduced myself and soon another hour had gone by.

It is easy and comfortable to talk with Lena. It was like I had known her all of my life. She grew up in Parks, the second child of Arista Frederick and Edia Guidry.  After Lena married Joseph Miller, they continued to live in Parks. Some people call Joseph "Joe"  and some call him "U.J." and Lena calls him "J." The couple had two children: Lisa Kay and Lonnie. Lisa, like her parents and grandparents before her, lives in the Parks area. Lonnie and his family live in St. Martinville, but not far from  New Iberia. Lena lovingly sings their praises. She is a much-loved mother, grandmother, aunt, great aunt, sister and friend. She told me she had been at J. Michael Morrow for two years. Then, she said: "Two years here and nine years a widow."

For some, the above words would be uttered with sadness; but, not for Lena Miller. It is evident how much she misses her mother and her husband, a sister, a brother and other loved ones she has lost. But, Lena has courage and she makes the most of her life at J. Michael Morrow Nursing Home. Her family has helped her make the adjustment from home to her "Home Away From Home." They visit and bring her lots of pictures of her loved ones.  Some of the pictures are in beautiful frames on her window sill.  Having those pictures are very important to her and that helps her keep loved ones fresh in her mind. Lena keeps up with her large extended family.

While I visited, I started taking picture off of her bulletin board over her bed and I would ask her to tell me about the person in the picture. One was Lena pictured with Emily and Mary, two of the nurses at J. Michael Morrow. When she looked at the picture, she kissed it. She explained that Emily and Mary had gotten her to walk again after a bad fall and hip injury.  It became necessary for the nurses to bathe her in bed and she was so very grateful.  When I turned the picture over, it was labeled:  "Restorative Grad, 6-16-2016." Lena's courage helps her deal with whatever comes her way, even injuries that require long hours of therapy. 

So, how did Lena meet a boyfriend back in those days? Lena met "J" Miller through a girlfriend. Lena and "J" enjoyed a long courtship. "J" became "Joe" to his Army buddies while he served his country in the Korean Conflict.  When he came home on leave, he wanted to marry Lena; but, she chose to wait until his military service was over.  She doesn't exactly remember the details; but, it was  the custom at the time for the man to ask the father permission to marry his daughter. Lena is certain "J" asked her Dad for her hand in marriage and in a few months, the couple was honeymooning in Port Arthur, Texas. It was the farthest Lena had traveled from home. "J" had a brother, Francis, and his wife Merilla Miller, who lived in Port Arthur and, as that too was the custom, the newly married couple honeymooned with Francis and Merilla.

Tracy wrote this about her husband's aunt: "On May 2, 1953, she married Joseph Miller, called 'U.J.' at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Parks. She and U.J. lived next door to her parents in Parks."  Tracy explains that the genealogy comes from two other members of the family.  Lena's sister in law Grace, the wife of Steve, and, Lena's daughter Lisa Kaye have done a wonderful job researcing and writing stories about this close extended family.

Lena explains that she was petite and for her wedding, she chose a light blue suit which was purchased from La Parisienne on Jefferson Street in Lafayette. The suit did not open in the middle but was shaped in a large scallop on the left side and had many tiny buttons for a very special look. Her hat was the prettiest she had ever had. It fit Lena perfectly. Most hats were large on her head but her wedding hat was comfortable. There were many beautiful tiny white and pink flowers over the matching light blue hat. Lena is proud of the many compliments she received on her wedding day.  She explained that the hat had cost almost as much as the suit.   

With much enthusiasm, Lena recalled a trip to Nashville, Tennessee! Lena and three or four friends visited Nashville and had a wonderful time. She loves country music and in her lifetime, Lena loved to sing country music. That brought her great pleasure and she lights up just thinking about it.

By J.M. Morrow Nursing Home 07 May, 2017
By Sandy Esteve with Betty Roy

As this is my first interview of a member of the Morrow community, I was a little anxious. But, as I walked into Rita’s room, I was immediately struck by her collection of art work and supplies. Fortunately for me, Rita was eager to share and an easy conversation followed.

Rita was born in New Orleans, July 20, 1941 and lived in the New Orleans area. She had one brother and one step brother. Rita lost her brother Ralph when he was only 36 years old. He was married and had 2 children.
Her mother was Mildred Landry Perez and her father was Ernest Perez. He died when she was only 5. The family moved to Lafayette to be near her mother’s sister and brother.

Rita graduated from Mount Carmel High School in 1959 and then attended USL, now UL of Louisiana, where she met Larry Roberts, who would become her first husband. They married in 1960 and moved to St. Bernard Parish. They had a daughter Karen and four sons, Larry, Harvey, Brian, and Adam, when her husband and the father of her children died.
She later married Oral “Bob” Bouterie and they lived in Chalmette. He was older than Rita and she describes him as a “calm person.” She received her LPN from Chalmette Community College and worked at Chalmette General Hospital and later with doctors.

Later in life, Rita lost her beloved husband Bob, but she stayed in Chalmette.

And then, Katrina happened in 2005. Rita lost everything, but her biggest regret is the loss of her pictures and her family recipes. She moved to Carencro to be near her daughter Karen, a Louisiana State Trooper. After she broke her back, she moved to the J. M. Morrow community.

Rita is proud of all her children. Her son Larry shows horses and customizes living quarter horse trailers in Texas. He lives across the highway from his brother Adam, who works in fencing sales. Another brother Brian is a Marine Corps Colonel and lives in Washington D.C. Harvey lives in Mississippi and works in sales.

Rita has 10 grandchildren, one is only a month old. Rita is still excited about seeing the beautiful baby boy for Easter.

Rita is a gifted artist, and she comes by it naturally! It is in her blood. Her mother was a teacher and an artist who painted. Her mother’s 6 sisters were all artists as well. She likes black and white drawing, but was not formally trained. If you have been fortunate enough to see her beautiful work, you know she didn’t need training. Teaching art here to the residents allows Rita to share her gift of art. In the collage above, you can see pictures of some of her work.

Rita loves to cook and to bake. Her favorite is roast. While visiting in Lafayette, her aunt loved her cooking so much, she would often give her money to go grocery shopping, so Rita could cook for them. Rita enjoys cooking recipes from the Telephone Pioneer Cook Book. Since I worked for the telephone company for 29 years, I am very familiar with the Telephone Pioneer Cook Book. See below.

Rita also misses New Orleans French bread. I know when I will visit New Orleans and I see the New Orleans French Bread, I will always think of Rita Bouterie.

Rita enjoys hand sewing, especially fine handkerchiefs and baby clothes, pictured in the collage.
By J.M. Morrow Nursing Home 04 May, 2017
Alberta “Bertha” Journet Powell has been a member of the J. Michael Morrow Community for a while. Visiting with her made me think about the members who make up a family, how similar we are and at times, we see how different members of the same family can be. It takes all the experiences of our lives to make us who we are and it is up to the individual to choose how to be or how not to be. You can use your upbringing as a reason to do good or an excuse to do bad.

Bertha has chosen to do good. She is a kind, peaceful, smiling lady. I have known her for many years; but, it was when Annabelle “Sue Sue” Richard was Bertha’s roommate that I came to love Bertha.

I visited with Sue Sue and she shared the story of her life. It can be accessed at the following link:
http://www.jmmorrownursinghome.com/around-our-home-away-from-home-anna-belle-sue-sue-white-richard

Bertha was there in the room through Sue Sue’s illness and eventual death. I know that she brought comfort and peace to the long days before Sue Sue succumbed to her illness. Bertha says: “Sue Sue was Sue Sue. I can tell you that she suffered.”

Bertha is the daughter of Junior Journet and Viola King. She had seven brothers and four sisters and Bertha loves when the ones who are still living come to visit.

I frequently visit the residents and I bring communion to the residents who are unable to attend the weekly communion services. I never go too long without dropping in on Bertha. I know she misses Sue Sue.

Bertha and I had talked several times about writing her story. I mostly spoke to her in French because I am more comfortable speaking French. Today, I asked which she preferred French or English? Bertha did not hesitate. She told me that she prefers English. She explained that she was born and raised in Opelousas. Since her husband was from Arnaudville, Bertha moved to Arnaudville as a young bride and she soon learned that most of the people of Arnaudville spoke French.

Bertha continues her story but although there are no tears, I sense the telling brings back very sad memories. She was a twin. Bertha was actually named “Alberta.” Her twin sister was “Bertha.” When her twin sister was six years old, she contracted pneumonia and died. Bertha’s mother, Viola King Journet, must have known the sadness the remaining twin felt. She offered Alberta the opportunity to move. 

Alberta had an aunt who had never had children. So that her aunt would not be alone after her husband died, Alberta was told that she could move in with her. Alberta did and enjoyed her days with her aunt who was named Helena King Journet. Like Bertha, her aunt was also a twin. Over the years, the name, “Alberta,” was shortened to “Bertha.”

As a young woman, Bertha and her aunt attended a Catholic church and this is where she met the man who would become her husband. Eventually, he came courting at her home and when Bertha was 21, the couple decided to marry.  Murphy asked Bertha's aunt for her hand in marriage.

Bertha and Murphy “Shorty” Powell settled in Arnaudville. Shorty worked as a mechanic for Russell Olivier’s Garage and Filling Station near the Bayou Fuselier bridge. Bertha worked for Nookie and Florina Tauzin Martin for about 32 years. Nookie has passed away and now, Florina is also a resident at J. Michael Morrow Nursing Home.  Bertha visits with her sometimes. Bertha remembers that when her babies came, she could bring the baby with her to work. Florina’s children played together with Bertha’s.

In more recent times, Bertha worked for Kevin Guidry Original Produce Market on Moss Street in Lafayette. Bertha doesn’t mind keeping houses in top order but she loves to cook. She can cook just about anything. She loves to bake too. Kevin Guidry had a lunch counter and Bertha worked as a cook there for a while. Since Bertha never learned to drive, she had to hitch a ride with another worker.

Murphy and Bertha had two boys, Wilton and Clifton and one girl, Debbie. Clifton suffered a stroke and passed away. Murphy, her husband,  passed away in 1980.

Debbie and Bertha lived together and enjoyed each other’s company. Bertha says: “Debbie was good to me.” At a young age, Debbie had to be placed on dialysis. Once when Debbie attended Mass at St. Catherine of Alexandria Catholic Church in Arnaudville as she did every Sunday, The priest gave Debbie a ride home. He told Bertha that he sensed Debbie was not feeling well. Bertha had cooked and she offered Debbie supper but Debbie said she was not hungry. All she wanted was her grandmother “MaMa’s” picture. Debbie held the picture on her chest and a short time later, when Bertha checked, Debbie had passed away. Bertha says: “My Mom came to get her.”

Wilton is Bertha’s only remaining child. She has many relatives in the Arnaudville area. I brought my copy of the St. Catherine’s Church Directory and Bertha enjoyed pointing out all of her friends and relatives.

At one time, Bertha worked for the Stevens Family who had moved to Arnaudville to open a mobile home plant on Hebert Road. Like many other families, the Stevens loved Bertha’s cooking.

Now, the days at J. Michael Morrow Nursing Home are quiet and pleasant. It is the second time Bertha joined the community. On March 17, 2015, Bertha was admitted due to an illness.  In time Bertha was able to return to her home. A bad fall later that same year, July 30, 2015, brought Bertha back to J. Michael Morrow Nursing Home. Bertha suffered an injury to a leg that is still very painful. Bertha says that the nurses and all the workers are very good to her.  She is quick to add: “But, they don’t cook like me!”

Bertha has truly lived to love and to serve. She now shares a room with a lady called “Rita.” Rita volunteered that she could not ask for a better roommate and I know just what she means. While I visited with Bertha, my friend and fellow volunteer Sandy Esteve met with Rita and Sandy promises that her story will come next.
By J.M. Morrow Nursing Home 20 Apr, 2017
´╗┐There is a garden in her face,
Where roses and white lilies grow;
A heavn'ly paradise is that place,
Wherein all pleasant fruits do flow.  

                                       Thomas Campion
By J.M. Morrow Nursing Home 28 Feb, 2017
Thursday, February 2, 2017

As I was leaving the nursing home this morning, the administrator, Harriet Lofton, handed me the above picture.  J. Michael Morrow Nursing Home resident Nola LeBlanc is pictured in the Arnaudville High School group.  We are grateful to Nola's daughter, Kathy LeBlanc Hebert, who graciously shared the picture. One of those pictured, Anna Lee Stelly is Mrs. Albert Robin, Jr., and a sister to Jim Stelly, founder of Stelly Construction.  Jessie Lee Lalonde is Mrs. Chester "Doc" Broussard.  Nettie Blanchard married Judge Joe LaHaye and she passed away last month. Two of the names of the guys at the top upper right do not appear.  One is Francis Richard.  The one on the far right is Milton "Mello" Dupuis, son of Noah Dupuis.

Nola moved into the nursing home in the fall of 2016.  From the very beginning, she told me she was relieved to be there.  She is like most Seniors, she does not want to give her family trouble.  When she knew it was time, she moved in and embraced her new life among friends and relatives. 

As luck would have it, Nola has a lovely roommate, Heda Hardy Kidder.  Nola could not ask for a more caring and loving friend.  This morning at the Nonco Apostleship of Prayer meeting, the two ladies sat on the sofa facing me.  It has come to be their spot.  I thought:  "What a team!" They are so lucky to have each other to enjoy events and quiet naps.

Heda has written her memoirs.  If you scroll back to April 1, 2015, in Our Stories, you can read "Heda's Memories of a Stormy Night and more." Thank you, Heda for all that you are and for sharing so willingly.

Nola is the daughter of Daniel Miller and Vonalia Dugas.  Daniel was a brother to Louis Miller.  The Miller brothers lived next door to each other and near both sets of my grandparents, the Arnauds and the Artigues.  I have known Nola all of my life and I remember her stately father dressed in khaki clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and shiny boots coming down our lane on horseback.

The children of Daniel and Vanolia were:  Beaulah (lived only 2 years) Ella, Evelyn (Mrs. Lloyd Arnaud), Wilma (Mrs. Lawrence Richard and grandmother of St. Martin Parish Councilman Daniel Richard, Jr.) Leta, Roman, Aurelia (Mrs. Anthony "Bee" Simon) Mable, Wilfred, Nola (Mrs. Leroy LeBlanc), Wilton and Numa (married to Mary Jane Miller). Nola has two living brothers, Wilfred and Wilton. 

Nola married an Arnaudville man, Leroy LeBlanc, son of C.P. LeBlanc and Elia Johnson LeBlanc. Their other children were Carroll, Howard and Hardy. Nola and Leroy had four children:  Errol, Kathy, Glenn and Michael. I know Nola was an excellent housewife and cook.  She was an expert money manager and they enjoyed many good times in the old days! Leroy was the Godchild of my mother-in-law, Gladys LeBlanc Roy.  The Roy and LeBlanc families shared many enjoyable gatherings.  Nola's son Michael scanned and shared many of the pictures from those "suppers."  I told my husband that it is hard to find one picture where the participants do not have a drink in their hands!!!

Whenever Nola sees my husband Rod "Brod" Roy, she always says:  "Those were the good old days."

Lucy Richard Romero  has been a faithful volunteer of the Nonco Apostleship of Prayer Group.  Lucy is the daughter of Lawrence and Wilma Miller Richard and a niece of Nola Miller LeBlanc.  Lucy states that she and Nola were close in age.  She remembers when she was in high school, she spent nights with Nola and Leroy.  The couple had rented a house owned by George Malorin and located across from the church and near the McKinley home.  What Lucy remembers most is the laughter.  Nola would recount stories and the two doubled over in laughter!

Again, "Those were the good old days."



By J.M. Morrow Nursing Home 09 Feb, 2017
On Thursday, February 9, 2017, Arnaudville native Charles Taylor  brought his Papillon to entertain the residents and guests at J. Michael Morrow Nursing Home.  The AKC states:  "The Papillon is a small, friendly, elegant toy dog of fine-boned structure, light, dainty and of lively action; distinguished from other breeds by its beautiful butterfly-like ears." And Pappy certainly is true to his breed. 

Lori Henderson brought her Chinese Crested named "Elvis" to visit and perform his tricks.  Mostly, he was content to let all of the residents pet him.  He is a very calm dog and he endured Lori undressing him and allowing each person to touch his hairless body.  The AKC states:  "The Chinese Crested is an alert dog that enjoys human companionship. They are funny little dogs that like to please their owners, and upon finding something that amuses you, are likely to do it again to get your attention. Chinese Cresteds are said to be “cat-like” and enjoy sitting in high places, the back of a couch or arm of a chair. Their activity level is medium to high but they enjoy quiet times with their family...."

Artist and shaman Lori and her husband, Tom Pierce, moved to Arnaudville about 11 years ago.  For Lori Arnaudville is her home base as she and Elvis take their van on the road to explore all of the United States.  Lori  brings art and her healing retreats to all who are interested.  Visit her website at http://www.lorihenderson.com  to learn more about Lori.  Tom is the proprietor of Tom's Fiddle and Bow along Bayou Fuselier in Arnaudville just down from Little Big Cup.

Lori led the group in singing "How much is that doggie in the window?"  Mavis Fruge told the group about the different theories of the origin of the  French song " C'est le Hip et Taiau ."  Jenora Miller led the group in singing the song.

The pictures were taken by new volunteer Sandy.  Volunteers are really welcome and appreciated at J. Michael Morrow Nursing Home. 

It was a fun morning and everyone was smiling when our time ended.  Thanks to all who participated.  More picture can be found on the J. Michael Morrow FaceBook page.


By J.M. Morrow Nursing Home 26 Jan, 2017
The residents enjoyed a Terrific Thursday on January 19, 2017, when Dr. Dan Liu, new resident to Arnaudville, came for a second visit to J. Michael Morrow Nursing Home.  This time Mavis Arnaud Fruge invited Dr. Dan and another Chinese lady by the name of Wenjun "Wendy" Duan. Wendy is a Help X Volunteer from the City of Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China.  Dr. Dan taught the residents correct breathing and some Tia Chi moves.  Wendy performed the lovely Peacock Dance.

Jeff Zerangue was late to arrive for the program.  He came to tell me that Leonard and Mickey Angelle needed to see me. I made a dash to their room and was thrilled to learn that Leonard wanted to share his memoirs on the nursing home website.  He also had a copy of the memoirs of Franklin Wright.  I remember Mr. Wright well.  He was my brother in law Richard Fruge's uncle by marriage.  The documents are scanned and links to the memoirs can be found at the bottom of the "Our Stories" page. 

I was happy that Mickey, Mrs. Leonard Angelle, came to meet Dan and Wendy and to participate in the exercises. Some of the residents who participated are pictured below in the collage.  They are:  John Dupuis, Lillie Zerangue, Mathilde Bourque, Lucille Olivier, Ruth Robin, Nola LeBlanc, Jenora Courville Miller, Mina Marks Patin, Mickey Fruge Angelle, Jeff Zerangue and Neva Marks.

Special "Thank you" to Mary Richard and Andrea Phillips, the Resident Activity Directors who are always so eager to entertain the residents and guests.


By J.M. Morrow Nursing Home 12 Jan, 2017
This morning Mavis Arnaud Frugé had a special treat for the  J. Michael Morrow residents.  She invited Dan Liu, a Chinese doctor who currently resides in Arnaudville to entertain. 

Dan has purchased the home of Wivis and LoLo Arnaud on Highway 31 and has lived in Arnaudville for about a year. She has been in the United States for five years.  Her son  is married to a girl who graduated from ULL and Dan proudly walked around with her tablet showing the resident a wedding picture of her son and his bride.  The couple currently resides in Colorado.

With beautiful, graceful hands, Dan played the pipa (pronounced /pee pah/).  The residents especially enjoyed hearing "Amazing Grace" played on a traditional Chinese instrument like a lute that has been popular for over two thousand years.. Please click on the link at the bottom of this article for more information on the pipa.

Following the pipa presentation, Dan performed a beautiful Chinese dance for the residents.  She wore  soft embroidered shoes similar to the ones pictured below.  Dan explained the necessity of stretching and deep breathing to keep the body mobile.  She also volunteered to visit the residents and present stretching and breathing exercises.  She explained that in China, there are no nursing homes.  People retire early in life.  To stay fit, they assemble in parks located in the center of  their towns where men and women exercise.  It is a very slow, controlled form of exercise called "Tai Chi." See the picture below.

JoLynn Northcutt stopped by to meet Dan and to deliver coloring books and colors for our coloring program at the nursing home.  JoLynn is a faithful volunteers who is in charge of the room bingo.

The residents enjoyed Dan and applauded loudly when she picked up her pipa and then gracefully waved goodbye. We are looking forward to seeing her again.
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