A blog by Lori Lyons

Friday, June 17, 2011

Ghost stories

The game long had been dissected. 

The pizza long had grown cold. 

Whatever buzz The Coaches might have gotten from the now-empty Bud Lights had long since worn off.

Hours had passed since the baseball victory of the day. Plays replayed. Players praised and criticized. And nearly an entire bag of Skittles consumed for dessert.

Just another night at our house, spent around the dining room table. Post game.

Over the hours the stories had gone from baseball to football to teachers to principals to newspapers and back.

But as the time approached the Witching Hour the stories turned to the scary. We began to use the voices our parents and big brothers used to use to try to scare the bejeezus out of us. And the hair stood up on the back of our necks.

But we weren't telling ghost stories.  We were telling true stories.

The stories about the houses that disappeared. The stories about the people with axes in their attics. About the people that got out and the ones that didn't. 

 The stories about those of us who spent endless hours in our cars with our families and our dogs and every treasured possession we could fit, driving somewhere. Anywhere. North. Away. Trying to find a safe place to land.

The stories about being there. Staying there. Out of harm's way. Making the best of the situation, taking turns shopping and cooking. Wondering when we would be able to go home. 

Wondering if we still had a home to go back to. If it still had a roof. If it now had a lake or a river inside it. 

Wondering if our friends and families were safe. Or still alive.

Because for a while we did not know.

With Hurricane Katrina barreling though the Gulf of Mexico, my in-laws, Jane and Pappy Luquet, left their little house within sight of the beach with a change of clothes and enough medication for a few days. Jane did remember to take her jewelry.

They went just up the road a ways to Kiln -- The birthplace of Brett Favre -- to stay with friends and relatives.

For the next week after Katrina wiped their town off the map, I hogged my stepdaughter's computer, scouring the Internet message boards and the Red Cross web sites trying to find their names on a list of survivors. Or not.

My husband and his best friend recounted the story of their first trip to Mississippi after learning that they were alive, on a mission to rescue them and get them whatever medical attention they might need.

Six days later they found them, drinking beer next to the now-green pool, completely oblivious to the fact that they no longer had a house and that we were worried to death.

My in-laws' street after Katrina. That's their pine tree in the middle of the frame.

No. These aren't ghost stories. These are hurricane stories, the stories of Katrina and Camille and Betsy and Ivan and Gustav and Andrew and Audrey and the big one that destroyed Last Island.
And they still give me the shivers.

This post has been submitted to Lovelinks #11. 
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  1. Have you been to the Katrina Experience in the Presbytere? You must, must, MUST go to it. It's heartbreakingly amazing.

  2. Now I have shivers. What a terrible time that was for the entire country. I'm glad your family was safe.

  3. What a devastating event that was. I'm glad nothing happened to your family. I can only imagine what a relief that must've been. Visiting from lovelinks.

  4. This post sent shivers through me as I read it.
    Your in-laws showed through their actions that even following the most horrific and scary experiences that there's not much we can do but get on with living life (and be thankful we're alive)

    Visiting from Lovelinks

  5. I have never read a story from somebody who knew someone affected this deeply by Katrina. Compelling. Thank you fro sharing. And I loved the introduction with you painting your family life.

  6. Thanks for reading everyone!

    My in-laws moved in with us a week after the storm and stayed one year and one week. My office was closed for four weeks. That's how I got our pool, actually. We NEEDED to expand our living space. Two women, one bathroom and one kitchen didn't add up. My father-in-law has passed, but my mother-in-law now lives in an assisted living center. Their lot in Waveland is still bare.

    Krystal -- I TRIED to go to the Katrina exhibit during my last vacation. They picked that day to close early. Will try again before it closes in August.

  7. Much scarier than ghost stories!

  8. Serious chills reading that. Glad your family members were safe, sippin' a beer by the pool when help arrived. That picture shows sheer devastation. :(

    Thanks for sharing. Visiting from lovelinks!