Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Summers in Lafayette

When I was a child, I had the wonderful experience of being able to spend a week or so in the summer with two of the greatest ladies I have ever known. They were my Aunt Eva and Aunt Deva and they were my great-great aunts. Eva and Deva were not twins despite the rhyming names. Their full names were Eva Matilda and Laura Deva. Eva was older by I believe eight years.

Of course, as a child, I thought maybe they were twins that didn't look alike. These two ladies never married and spent almost all their adult life known as the spinster sisters. I didn't care, all I knew is that I loved to travel to Lafayette to spend a week or so with them. The lived on St. Patrick Street near the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in a green sided house flanked by the most beautiful fuschia azalea bushes I had ever seen. You pulled up in their driveway behind their one car carport. At one point they had a two tone brown sedan and later, a blue Buick. A wrought iron banister led the way up a few steps to the front door of this cute little house. As a kid, I thought this house was so big, but with hindsight, it was probably no more than 1000 sq feet.

Once you walked in, you came into their living room that had a blue recliner and a blue and gold sleeper sofa. I spent many hours on that sofa reading Gone with the Wind. to the left were two bedrooms seperated by a bathroom. I can remember that Aunt Deva had twin beds in here room, one of which was mine when I visited. Aunt Eva's room had a double bed and a jewelry box that I spent hours playing with. Today, that jewelry box and it's contents of beads is in my daughter's room upstairs. I can remember the smell of Aunt Eva's room, it smelled like Ponds cold cream, Jergans Lotion and Caress Soap. To this day, Caress makes me think of these ladies.

There was an alcove that houses a wooden picnic type dining table with the two bench seats on either side. The hutch housed tea cups including a commorative Royal Wedding mug that Aunt Deva brought back from London. The galley kitchen was such a novelty to me. Long and narrow, the smells that came out of this kitchen made my stomach grumble and my mouth water. Aunt Eva made the best smothered porkchops I have ever tasted. To this day, no one can replicate those porkchops. These two ladies drank Community Coffee all through out the day and the funny thing to me was that they made the coffee on top of the stove with the percolator sitting in a pan of water. They would make me a demitasse cup of coffee milk..more milk than coffee, but I felt like such a grownup! I have two of those white cups in my cabinets now.

We would either take the bus downtown or walk to the corner drugstore which was such an exciting thing for a country girl like me. Aunt Deva was still working, and Aunt Eva didn't drive, so it was the bus for us if we wanted to go anywhere during the week. That was just fine with me because Aunt Eva would point out all the different shops and buildings around town. On Sundays, it was time for church at the First Baptist Church of Lafayette, we never missed a Sunday. In fact, it was at ten years old that I "walked the aisle" at a Crusade preached by their pastor. I made friends their friends, including Miss Melacon who lived in the two story white house next door and a girl my age across the street who's name was also Christy.

When I was fourteen those visits ended as they moved just up the street from us. Deva had finally retired and both of them wanted to move closer to family. I was so fortunate to be able to be near them as long I had. When I had my daughter, Amanda, they doted on her. She was "their little girl" until the day they died. As all sisters do, they fought and ignored each other, and as they got on in years thought the other was crazy. One of the funniest things was when Aunt Eva had been bedridden after breaking a hip and proceeded to ignore Aunt Deva when thought Deva was being bossy. Deva would tell me that Eva must be losing her hearing, but when Amanda would say something in her little voice, Eva could hear every word she said. I called it selective hearing and Eva was just ignoring Deva's nagging.

Eva passed away at the age of 92 in January of 2001 and Deva followed that May at the age of 86. These two great ladies, the last of the great ladies,touched so many lives throughout their lives and I was fortunate to be able to spend the time with them. I like to think they they are up in heaven watching over my daughter and me, like guardian angels and when I smell something that reminds me of them, it's their way of letting me know that they're around.