Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another candle

I was just trying to do a little slide show of all her birthdays when I realized, I have one of her blowing out her candles -- or about to -- every year.....

Here's to many more, my baby girl!



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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Common Ground

I really just wanted to hug him.

I so wanted to break protocol and break free from the pack of staid, straight, reserved and oh-so-objective reporters who had crowded into that little room for the story of the day. The too sad story of the day.

I wanted to throw my arms around him and pat him on the back and tell him, "I understand." Because I do. And if he just wanted to cry, well that would have been OK too.

And not because I was the only girl in the room and he is this rich and famous professional football player the whole world knows, but because he is just Ed.

Actually, to me, he's still Edward, the talented boy who was one of the best high school football players I had the great fortune to cover, with mad improvisational skills on the field and usually ready with a good quote after.

He's Edward, the little twerp who refused to remove his sunglasses the day a photographer and I went out to do a story on his mad skills as a track star.

He's Edward, who made me half freeze to death while watching him compete in the local Punt, Pass and Kick competition early one Saturday morning, long, long ago.

Edward, who became Ed Reed and one of the best football players the University of Miami had ever seen and then an All-Pro Baltimore Raven.

Edward, the guy who spent a good hour or so sitting with me under a pine tree on the hottest day of a summer, talking about how much it was starting to hurt just to play all those games but how hard it is to walk away.

But on this particular day, he was just Ed -- a local guy who had just lost a brother. And that I could relate to.

I wonder what we both wouldn't give for five more minutes with our brothers, both of whom died with water in their lungs. To slap them upside the head and say, "What in the HELL were you thinking, man?"

Mine for drinking too many Buds and driving off into the rainy night without buckling his seat belt.

His for taking off when the deputy just wanted to know whose car that was and then jumping into the cold, cold dark Mississippi River and never coming up.

What we both wouldn't give for one more hug.

So yeah, all you cool, professional reporters and crusty cops. Excuse me for trying to be inconspicuous as I wiped that tear from the corner of my eye. And excuse me for just wanting to hug the boy I used to know, who has grown into a wonderful man.

To me, he's just Ed.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Secrets and lies

I just couldn't help myself. I had to watch.

For the past four days, Oprah Winfrey has been teasing us with her commercials, telling us that today she would reveal a jaw-dropping, heart-stopping family secret. And she did.

She has a sister. A half-sister.

Good for her. I have three. Half-sisters. I have always known about mine, however. Although, thanks to the invention of Facebook I am only just now really getting to know them.

Oprah did not know that she had this sister. It seems their mother had given up this sister at birth, put her up for adoption. Unfortunately, it took this little baby girl born in 1963 seven years to be adopted. And it wasn't always roses and candy.

And her mother never told anyone.

Now, all these years later, this woman has figured out who she is and who she belongs to. The secret is out. And today, Oprah introduced the world to this sister she never knew she had, this daughter she never knew her mother had.

And I -- and probably millions of others -- watched, tears streaming down my face as this family was reunited on (taped) television.

But, because I had to take my own daughter to her singing lesson, I had to dry my tears and hit the record button on the DVR so I could watch the rest later.

Then I had to explain to my 9-year old daughter why this was such a story.

My 9-year-old adopted daughter.

I had to tell her that there was a time when adoption was not a word said out loud. That there was a time when it was whispered behind palms -- so much so that most of the time the adopted child himself did not know. People hid the truth out of shame, and tried to pretend there was no secret to hide.

But somebody always knows.

In Oprah's case, it was Cousin Alice who knew.

In my family's case, it was my grandmother. And me.

My grandmother knew that my little cousin was (hand over mouth, voice lowered to a whisper) adopted. And, because they so often forgot that I was just a little kid sitting there, I knew too. We weren't supposed to say anything, though, because she didn't know. My cousin that is. Or maybe she did...

One day, when we were about 7 or 8 years old, I asked her.

"Do you know that you are adopted?"

Um. No.

I'm sorry, cuz, for letting that cat out of the bag. If I owe you money for therapy, just let me know.

But it was a lesson learned.

When my husband and I adopted our little baby girl 10 years ago, I was determined not to repeat the mistakes of the past. She may not have known what it meant, but she has always known that she was adopted. And it was a word never whispered in our house, but spoken. Accepted.

And, despite the protestations and wringing of hands by the elders in our family, Lora Leigh has always known where she came from. And from whom.

Lora was just a few weeks old when I dressed her up in her little pink watermelon outfit, strapped her into her car seat and drove her home. And with heart thumping with love and gratitude -- not fear -- I placed OUR little baby in her arms. And when the visit was over, she gave her back to me.

Lora will never have to wonder who she looks like or where she came from, if she has a sister (yes!) or a brother (no!) or any cousins who have this crazy curly hair she has (yes! several!). She will grow up knowing them, and they her.

In fact, it has become an annual ritual. Every Good Friday, they cook more crawfish and corn (and crabs for me!) than one human family can possibly eat in one afternoon, and we make the trek down the bayou to share. Lora quickly warms up and finds her sister or someone her age to hang out with and, sometimes, doesn't want to leave.

Sometimes I might catch a quizzical look from someone, wondering who in the heck we are and who is this little girl running around. But, after the first year or two, everyone pretty much had it figured out.

It works.

I know it doesn't work for everyone. I know that some adoptive parents would rather go to Russia or China to adopt so they never have to deal with birth parents -- or secrets.

I know we are very lucky. In many, many ways.

And so is my daughter.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Baseball widow

The date is circled on the calendar, and I am counting down the days.

I know it's only a matter of time.

Before this month is over, my husband of 16 years is going to leave me.

Already his thoughts are turning to another. I know I cannot compete, so I do not try. I must let him go.

All I can do is hope he returns at a decent hour.

And when he comes home the evidence will be all over him.

The stains on his collar.

The scent on his clothes.

The mud on his shoes.

And the smile on his face.

I will know exactly where he has been and with whom. And if I want to see him, I will have to follow him there.

Yes, my husband will leave me. Not for another woman, but for greener pastures.

Literally.

And clay redder than my hair.

My husband is a high school baseball coach. And the season officially begins in nine days.

And while he will be in his heaven, spending countless hours on his field and in his locker room, my daughter and I will become afterthoughts.

Oh, I'm not really complaining.

This is his 10th season since our marriage. And he's in his ninth year at his second school. So I'm used to it. And with me being, until recently, a high school sports writer, our lives have always revolved around a ballpark somewhere.

So I know what's coming.

Soon our house will become Grand Central -- a gathering spot for coaches and players and parents and fans.

All nights will become sleepless -- either because of the last game, or the next one.

All conversations will be about baseball -- the players he loves and those that drive him crazy, the games won and lost, and who's next.

About his team -- what it has and what it's missing.

And the weather -- will it rain this week or not?

And Lora Leigh and I will follow him (if it's not 25 degrees outside) to as many games as we can.

She will moan and groan about going, but then she will be happy to eat everything they give her in the concessions stand. And she will connect with the other coaches' kids or she will disappear to some little corner so she can read a book.

Meanwhile, I will sit in my chair next to the dugout -- right next to the chair that has remained empty since his father died -- and try to be invisible. I will dole out cash for my kid to spend at the concessions stand and eat sunflower seeds until my mouth bleeds because I'm so nervous.

And I will think to myself how handsome I think he is in his uniform and I will try to ignore the people who think he's an idiot because he had his runner try to steal home. And I will hope he does not blow his blood pressure while arguing with the ump.






And she and I both will hope his team wins, because we're supposed to and because we don't like it when he comes home grumpy.

Sometimes he will come home happy, thrilled with victories over teams no one expected him to beat.

Sometimes he will come home angry, wondering how he managed to lose.

And he will toss and turn in our bed, lying awake all night wondering if he could have, should have, done something different -- started another pitcher, or taken the ball from him sooner, or if he should have tried to steal home.

And I will be there, wishing he'd just go to sleep already but happy that he's home at all.

I know what's coming.

Already he's happier. Giddy over a day spent watching a scrimmage two hours away, his stomach filled with the first of hundreds of Wendy's hamburgers.

And already I am here waiting for him.

My name is Lori and I am a baseball widow.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The story's end





A hush fell over the marsh on Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011, as Donald put away his pirogue and fishing poles and went home to be with his parents, Donald Sr. and Cecilia.


I did not know Mr. Donald, but I hope he finds peace in his eternal rest. He sounds like a great guy.

I know this because those he left behind thought enough of him to put some thought and care into his obituary.

Most people don't.

Most people follow the staid old formula:
Bob Jones, 92, died Saturday.

I know that formula because, like most journalists of my generation, I got my start in the newspaper business writing obituaries. And they ALL followed that same, staid old formula.

But as newspapers began to shrink, so did the obituary. Used to be, anybody could get a nice little write up in the local daily. Nowadays, you have to be almost famous.

But the story of your life can be bought as ad space -- sometimes at a hefty price. And once family members began to realize that they were buying all those inches in the back of the Metro section, they started to do it "their way."

I have noticed the trend.

Harriet Hunter, famous for her chocolate cake...


William Wallace, who never passed up a chance to argue...


And Mr. Donald, who apparently was very loud in the swamp.

I love it.

And it makes me wonder... What would I like MY death notice to say?

Besides the

Lori Lyons, 102,
part I mean...

Shouldn't this be something we ALL contemplate, along with the disposition of our estate and who will get all of my shoes when I'm gone?

It's not being morbid. It's being realistic. We aren't getting out of this alive. And someday, our entire lives -- who we were, what we did, all that we accomplished and left behind -- will have to be summed up in just a few paragraphs...

Written by a stranger?

I think not!

So here is what I'd like my death notice to say:

Lori Lee Ann "Lolo" Lyons Luquet, 102, a writer, left this earthly life and has moved to the beach, where she plans to float on a raft on crystal clear blue waters, entertain her family and friends and every dog she ever loved, and drink pina coladas for eternity.

She was a damn fine sports writer, a wife, mother, stepmother, daughter, sister, aunt, grand-aunt, cousin and friend who loved cheap wine, cold beer, festive cocktails with little umbrellas, a good steak, boiled crabs, Brown's Velvet Pecan Krunch ice cream, chocolate covered cherries, music from the 80s, Old School Jam, playing the piano, throwing great parties, early morning walks, The Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Pensacola Beach and her backyard swimming pool.

And her friends and family.

That'll be $395.25.

Now to choose a picture....





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Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Follow me!

I never was the kind of girl who made the first move.

No, I was the one who wasted years of my life sitting by the phone, waiting for him to call. And him. And him. And him....

Sigh. If we'd only had cell phones back then...

And I'm still that way today.

I'm not usually the one to make the first move. Even on Facebook, I'll stumble across an old friend, an old boyfriend, and old drinking buddy... But I'll wait for him to friend me rather than make the first move.

I wonder if that makes me cyber shy or something.

So it's not exactly in my nature to beg people to visit this little site or to become a dutiful follower.

But I'd really like you to.

It's not that I think I'm the world's greatest writer. Certainly not the world's greatest blogger.

But I could be.

The part of my brain that has been carrying me all these years, the creative part, the good part, has been turned off for a while. This was not by choice.

The powers-that-be at The Times-Picayune decided that my sports writing skills were no longer needed. Now I re-write the police blotter. And receipts.

So this little cyber space has become my new outlet. And you, my (as of today) seven followers, have become my audience. It's not that I don't love all seven of you, but I would like more.

Call it a cyber inferiority complex.

Of course, I know that not everyone likes to read pointless stories about my life and my family and my job.

But if you give me a chance, I might just entertain you once in a while.

But even if you don't, I'll keep writing.

I need the practice.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas Cookies




It started as a simple thing on my Christmas to-do list.

One year, I said. Some day, I said, I want to make Christmas cookies.

They always look so pretty in the magazine and television ads, perfect little snowmen dusted with white sugar, Santa with his white beard made of frosting, glittering snow flakes and those perfect little gingerbread men.

I can do that, I said.

I say that a lot. "I can do that." I believe it too. But more than that, it was something I wanted to do -- especially once Lora Leigh came to be.

In 2003, Lora Leigh was a month shy of 3 -- the perfect age. And I finally found my window of opportunity -- Christmas Eve Day, during the afternoon, before church. It also seemed to be a good way to kill those impossibly long hours of the last day before Santa Claus comes (and before church).

Armed and ready with one little container of a dozen or so never-used cookie cutters, my grandmother's ancient rolling pin, a few cans of colored icing and a can of shaker flour, we gathered around the dining room table and created. And made a huge mess.



Lora Leigh was thrilled, however, and offered up a huge homemade cookie for Santa (which he dutifully ate!)




It was only the beginning of what has become a wonderful Christmas tradition at our house. Christmas Eve Day is reserved for cookies.

Over the years a wide assortment of friends and family have joined in the fun. Daniel and Courtney have even turned it into a little competition.

And my one little box of cookie cutters has morphed into six rubber containers of every imaginable color of icing and sugar sprinkle and more than 100 cookie cutters.

We still make a huge mess.





But while the mess can be cleaned, the memories are indelible.

And it has become one of my favorite parts of Christmas.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Resolved

So, here it is -- the first day of 2011.

1/1/11.

Full of hope and possibilities. A new beginning. A new set of calendars and day planners.

I sat down this week and began to fill them out. For the past 21 years I have automatically marked certain dates -- the first weeks of March for the basketball playoffs; the last weekend in May for softball; the second weekend in December for the football finals. The last Friday in August...

But no more.

Now I only had to mark the usual birthdays and anniversaries. The rest is left blank. Full of possibilities.

2010 wasn't a good year for me.

I lost a job I loved and with it, my identity. I was moved, kicking and screaming, into a job I hated and resented. It hurt. It still does.

But I'm learning to live with it.

I'm happy to have a job. A good-paying job. And there's a lot to be said for 9-5.

I waited most of the year for something to happen with my book and still am. I got great, positive feedback from many who read it. I got an agent. I got impatient.

I go into 2011 still waiting. Still hoping.

Just as I did last year.

On this day one year ago I started another diet.

But I walked less than I should have.

I ate more than I should have.

And I yelled more than I should have at my little girl and my little old Mom.

So I hereby resolve:

To be more patient.

Not to expect so much from my 9-year-old child. Or my 53-year-old husband. Or my 77-year old Mommy.

To do more with all of them.

To hug and kiss them more.

To eat less and move more.

To let go of the life I had.

To be happy that I have a job -- a good one -- at all.

To let this space be my creative outlet. Even if no one reads it.

And to continue to have hope.