Thursday, October 27, 2011

Memories of Marie

Rarely at a loss for words, the past few days have found me struggling to properly express the impact Marie Ory Dupont had on my family and the tremendous grief we feel over her sudden death.
Marie walked into our home and left an indelible mark on our hearts when she and Monique, my oldest daughter, met six years ago. Although they grew up only streets apart in LaPlace, it took a graduate school business class at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette to cause these two overachievers to cross paths.
Marie was… well, Monique knew her so much better than I did. Let her tell you about one of her best friends…
"The first night I met Marie we were sitting just two seats away in a class. She complimented me on my necklace and as we started chatting she said that by my accent she could tell that I wasn’t from Lafayette. I told her I was from LaPlace, and that was all it took for us to be best friends.
"I wouldn’t have made it through graduate school without Marie’s encouragement and friendship. On several occasions I told Marie I was quitting graduate school. She would always say, 'What...and leave me here?' We would laugh and I always promised to finish school. I’m so happy I stayed. It was during that time I started calling her “Momma Rie.” She always took such good care of me, reminded me to eat dinner on busy and stressful nights, and made soup when I was sick. She was an absolute God-send to my life.
"After we both completed graduate school, Marie began her job hunt. That search didn’t last long, as a position became open at St. Charles Catholic. She was so excited to return, not just to the high school she had attended, but to the close knit SCC community she considered family. Marie absolutely lit up when she talked about new ideas she had for the school, and was always proud to tell me about her students, whom she called her kids. When my little sister Victoria started attending SCC a few years ago, it was such an amazing feeling to know that Marie was looking out for her.
"We had survived graduate school, began to thrive in our careers as educators, and before we could catch our breaths, we were planning Marie's wedding to Mickey. Only a year after they were married, Marie witnessed my own marriage vows to the man she had insisted I meet on a blind date.
"Every week for the past year, Mickey and Marie, Frank and I, and our mutual friends, Pete and Deann enjoyed what we called Dinner Game Night. We all looked forward to a night of good food, even better company, and a healthy dose of competition.
"My last conversation with Marie was the night before her death. She came over to my house where we talked and laughed before finishing our visit over chips and soup at La Carreta. Marie spoke of the Homecoming activities at SCC the week before and we threw around ideas about how to make it even better next year (if you're curious…our ideas included a dessert competition). She was so relieved that her kids at SCC seemed to enjoy her hard work for that Homecoming. Our night at La Carreta ended as we took a few minutes to relish in how content we were with our lives. When she dropped me off at my house, she said how happy she was that we had made time for each other that day. I am too. I'll be eternally grateful for that
"Our friendship had only six years to develop, but I’m grateful we squeezed so many laughs and memories into that time. Marie was absolutely the best person I’ve ever met. She was the hardest worker, always selfless, and ever the servant. Her enthusiasm and passion for every single thing she did was awe-inspiring, and she would do absolutely anything to make someone else’s day better.
"I miss my friend."

Ronny and Monique may be reached at

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Gift

It doesn't take much of a reason for us to get together, but when we realized my cousin Tommye Lou's birthday was coming up, it was more than enough motivation for my Mom, Aunt Judy and I to spend a day with her. We shopped, we ate, and we saved the best for last. The gifts.
"I'm not sure if you're going to like it," Aunt Judy began, "but don't worry about it. I love it and if you don't want it, I'll take it and get something else for you."
Tommye Lou held up the beautiful red scarf which had a large charm attached to the center. "I thought this red color would be perfect for you. Look, this is how you wear it," Aunt Judy continued as she took heathe scarf and placed it around her own neck. It really was pretty. She slowly removed the scarf and handed it back to the birthday girl who promptly placed it around her head! "Or you wear it like that… but I don't mind keeping it..."
Now it was my turn. I wasn't sure how she'd feel about the book I bought, so I, too, offered a choice. "I'm not sure if you have time to read, but if you do, this is a book I really enjoyed. If you don't want it, I'll keep it and get something else for you." She looked at the new copy of Todd Burpo's book Heaven is for Real and said, "I've heard of this."
"Me, too," Aunt Judy said.
"What's it about?" questioned my Mom, and a long (trust me, long) conversation followed as we discussed the book. It was finally time for my Mom's gift.
"I'd just like to say something before you open it," she said. "If you don't like it, or it's the wrong size, don't worry. They fit me so I'll just keep them and get something else for you." Tommye Lou quickly assured her that the comfortable looking zebra print slippers were perfect. Despite our offers, she scooped up her gifts and headed for home. We did, too. Well, we did after we stopped for Aunt Judy and Mom to each buy a copy of Heaven is for Real.
I recently spoke to Tommye Lou and discovered she has already worn the slippers and the scarf. She also read the book and is ready to read it again. It didn't take her long to use her gifts.
Gifts! I love giving them, and I don't mind receiving them, either. Of all the gifts I've been given, I must say that God's are the best. He liberally gives talents and spiritual gifts expressly suited for the individual. It's our responsibility to develop and use the gifts for His glory. His ultimate gift is one which is continually offered. Daily, people choose to accept or reject the gift described in Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
There is nothing else to compare to that gift. May it be accepted and shared.
Ronny may be reached at

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Welcome Mat

The mat outside of my front door is rather plain. It's just black scrollwork and will be there until it completely disintegrates. When I do replace it, I think I'll order the one I saw online, "Come in, but don't expect much."
If you want to see a fancy mat, go to my daughter and son-in-law's home. Theirs is beige, trimmed in black, and bears the large initial of their last name in the center. Someone gave Monique and Frank that very nice wedding gift.
Travel to Thibodaux, and you will find the other end of the doormat spectrum. Elise has several mats both outside and inside her home. Each bears a different phrase, but all have to do with college, studying, and I believe I saw the word 'party' on one. Hurry up, graduation!
Regardless of their appearance, they all perform the same function. Doormats allow people to wipe the soles of their shoes before walking indoors.
In the course of a day, a look at my shoes will reveal what I've walked through: dirt, rocks, grass, and even flowerbed mulch. While I can't stop the stuff from clinging to my shoes, I can prevent it being tracked throughout my home.
In the course of my life, I have walked through many things. It's likely you have, too. The list includes disappointments, heartaches, setbacks, employment or unemployment difficulties, sickness, financial troubles, or the challenges of raising children.
Part of every challenge is the choice to collapse or keep walking; shrink in fear or rise in faith; resent the event or become thoroughly thankful for another opportunity to grow. Regardless of the severity of the trial, I am learning to stay close to the God Who said He would never leave or forsake me. His Word in Isaiah 43:1,2 settles my soul, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you." While I may not be able to avoid difficulties, I believe I can immerge from them stronger and wiser, without any junk like bitterness, worry, or condemnation clinging to me and being tracked throughout my life.
At the start of each day, I ask God's presence for every step of my walk. As I approach Him in prayer, I find He has always put out the Welcome mat.
Ronny may be reached at

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Real Friends

While driving home from a meeting, I called my Dad. "Where are you?" I asked.
"On my way home from teaching a DWI class. Let's have coffee." And even though it was 8:30 p.m. and the last thing I needed was coffee, we met at PJs.
He was already seated at a table with a sugary apple cake. I opted for black coffee, and tried to pretend it was as good as his dessert. We talked, laughed, and solved a few of the world's problems. He waited as I ordered a Bananas Foster iced coffee to bring to my son, and spent the time gazing into the dessert showcase. All of a sudden, I heard him ask, "What are these things?"
"Which ones?" asked the employee, who was probably anxious to call it a night.
"The ones right here. The ones that look like eggs," said my Dad.
"They're eggs," answered another employee.
"But what are they really?" he asked, begging to know the true identity of the small, white, oval shaped objects.
"They're boiled eggs."
"Who buys them?" He just wouldn't quit. "How much are they?"
"Dad. Stop." I felt an obligation to end this interrogation. "You're going to be one of those people who shouldn't leave the house. Let's go."
In his defense, I've seen baby blankets and socks shaped to resemble cupcakes and cookies decorated to look like little footballs. The groom's cake at my niece's wedding looked exactly like a pot of boiled crawfish. I guess that's why my Dad had a difficult time believing there were really eggs next to the desserts at PJs.
But sometimes things, like eggs, are exactly as they appear. People, too. While many try to put up a front and pretend to be someone they're not, there are still people who are real and are really exactly as they appear. Meet Nikki Clement.
My daughter, Elise, met Nikki during their first semester at Nicholls State. When she entered our home, I felt as though I had known her for a very long time. She seemed to be warm, friendly, and sincere. I soon discovered she was also very energetic. Within minutes of our meeting, I looked out of my kitchen window and there she was, in the front yard on all fours, pouncing in the grass with Victoria's cat, Bacon. But that's Nikki. Unafraid of the opinion of others, she is true to herself and is exactly the person she portrays.
More than once, Nikki and her family have stepped in to help Elise before I was able to make the 50 minute drive to Thibodaux. They've done more for me than I will ever be able to repay. Knowing the Clements are only a few streets away from my daughter helps me to sleep better at night. Elise is probably in better hands with them anyway, for they are much nicer than I am.
When Elise decided to break her 'never live with close friends' rule, Nikki's mom, Trudy, found a house for them to rent although she had already bought a condo for Nikki to live in. See what I mean? She's a much nicer mother than me. Nikki's dad, Chris, and her brother, Trent, worked diligently and tirelessly during the grand move, creating a more than comfortable place for Nikki and Elise to share with their other roommates, Shay and Courtney.
Weeks after the move was complete, Trudy and I had an opportunity to visit. In the midst of much talk and many questions, answers, and phone calls, we discovered that Chris' mom, Joyce Cavalier Clement, and my parents where high school classmates. That makes Elise and Nikki… well, I guess it makes them best friends whose grandparents know each other, but I still think it's a major line in their 'connect the dots' story.
In a world of increasing apathy, lack of involvement, and neighbors who are strangers, I am pleased to report there are still warm, loving, generous people, and God has given me more friends like these than I will ever deserve. Elise, too. In Nikki, she has found a true friend. (I would love to say that Nikki's a good egg, but I fear that would be too corny, so I will choose another ending.)
May our lives be filled with friends like Nikki, and may we be the friends upon which others can depend.
Ronny may be reached at