A blog by Lori Lyons

Tuesday, June 7, 2022


 There have been many times that I have been proud as a parent.

I was proud of all the Student of the Week certificates, the Honor Roll listings, her Young Authors award, her ONE goal in basketball.

I was proud of the way she walked into the hospital that awful day for her spinal fusion, seeming to have no fear. And I was proud of the way she handled the pain after. She was pretty damn brave through all of it.

I was incredibly proud the day she and her high school choir performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City and nearly burst at the seams when she was chosen for a small ensemble. 

I was proud of every college envelope and packet that was pushed through our mail slot -- and there were dozens of them. But I was really proud of the ones that said she had been accepted and that they were giving her scholarships to attend -- especially the one from Loyola University in New Orleans (my alma mater). 

But I was still proud the day she made up her mind and put the sign in the front yard letting the world know that she would be a Northwestern State Demon to study music.

Since that day in 2019 there have been more moments for me as a proud parent and stepparent..-- Dean's List, President's List. More choir performances. 

Then there was the day she called to let me know that she was changing her major -- to Journalism.

Never in her nearly 20 years had she ever even hinted that she might be interested in a career as a journalist. We thought she'd be a singer for a while. Then she wanted to produce music. But she never wanted to be a reporter. Certainly not a sports reporter.

Oh, she had been to more "Take Your Daughter to Work" days that she could ever count thanks to my 30-plus years as a sportswriter. Mostly she would play on the computer in my old office, or ask to borrow my laptop while I finished up a story. She went to her first baseball game at two weeks old, but she couldn't tell you what an infielder is, nor an outfielder. And she has no idea what 6-4-3 means.

There was that one time we went to the local Biz Town, a simulated town at a local college where elementary students get to experience working and get "paid" for a day's work. Of course she chose to be a reporter for the town's newspaper -- like her mom. 

But I'll tell you this: The girl can write.

One of the first stories she wrote won a Young Author's prize. I read it after the fact. It was a gripping tale about a young girl hiding from monsters or aliens or something under a bed while she begged for help into a telephone.

"Where did you get this?" I asked her, incredulous.

"I wrote it," she replied.

"But where did you get the idea?" I demanded. "How did you come up with this?

"It was in my head," she said.

Yes. Yes, I was pretty much accusing my child of plagiarism. But no. She wrote it. And she won an award for it.

Over the years she would occasionally ask me to read a paper or an essay for school. Rarely, if ever, did I have to edit a thing. 

The girl could write.

When I was working for our local paper my then-editor asked if she would like to write an op-ed about scoliosis awareness. She did and it was wonderful. I was proud (there's that word again) to see her first byline in the newspaper I worked for. That article led to an email from a magazine publisher who asked her if she would like to run a longer piece about scoliosis. She did that one too.

And the girl could write.

Her college essay brought me to tears -- and not just because it was about her dad and me and about how she had been adopted at birth and how that affected her life. It was moving, but it also was just beautifully written.

So I'm guessing you can imagine what I felt the day she called me and said she was joining her college newspaper as a reporter.

Then she became a section editor.

Then a copy editor.

And, this spring, she was named the Editor in Chief for next school year.

There aren't enough synonyms for "proud" in the entire world.

And then today, she headed off to my old paper (in my borrowed blazer) for her first day as a summer intern. 

I also have two AMAZING stepchildren who make me proud. My stepson was a stellar high school athlete and now is a high school football coach (following in his dad's footsteps as a coach) and a great dad to two little girls. My stepdaughter is a strong, vibrant, smart, independent woman who worked at Disney, kicked ass in sales at a couple of local hotels, and now is the director of on-campus recruiting at Tulane. 

But there's nothing quite like your child following in your footsteps, walking your path, dreaming your dreams. 

It makes me very proud. 

And amazed.

And also a little worried.

The world is a tough place for journalists today. People don't respect us the way they used to. Some people outright hate us for just doing our jobs. I got my fair share of harassment back in the day, but not like it is now. And while women have made great strides, especially in sports journalism, jobs are difficult to find. And difficult to keep. Just look at her mom.

But I know this: The girl is a fighter. And the girl can write.

And whatever she does, I'm proud to be her mom. 


Sunday, May 22, 2022

Dear Teaching,

 Note: I was going to do this as a lesson with my sixth graders the last full week of school. Let them read Kobe's "Dear Basketball" poem, let them write their own version.

 But they're done. Their little brains have pretty much shut down for the school year. Mine isn't that far behind.  As I was prepping for this lesson, I figured I needed to write one of my own so they could have a model. It's a bit personal, maybe too personal for them. But I think I needed to write it. 

Dear Teaching:

You were not my first choice.

Writing was, then reporting.

But that doesn't mean I haven't thought about you,

flirted with you,

dreamed about you.

I guess you were always my backup plan,

my "someday"


My infatuation began with I was just a little girl,

rushing home from school to relive my day's lessons

on Grannie's kitchen blackboard

and giving Grandpa and Rhett homework.

We got a little closer in college,

when I changed my major from Communications to English

and decided I wanted a book-filled office and a big desk,

a classroom full of eager students. Flexible hours.

But then my childhood dreams came true.

A newspaper job! I was a reporter. A journalist. A sports writer. 

Spending Friday nights and many other days chasing high school kids for quotes and waiting futilely on coaches to return phone calls.

I was happy. And well paid.

Until dividends became more important than me. More important than quality. More important than people. And the men in ties decided I was expendable.

I lost more than a job, 

I lost my identity,

My purpose,

My soul.

So I floundered for a while,

Working three or four jobs to pay the bills,

Getting mother-in-law Jane dressed and fed and to and from,

Until I couldn't do it anymore.

I got another chance to write and report,

Be a big fish in a little pond,

An old dog learning new tricks.

But the young guy wanted it his way or no way.

And it was my mama's turn to need my help.

Then I found you again

Quite by accident.

Or maybe it was Fate.

It is the family business after all.

Either way, I found my purpose again,

A place to use what I knew and learn new things too.

To meet a whole new generation of children,

Some of them are the children of the children I knew,

In a place where everybody is family.

I'm happy here. But not so well-paid.

That's OK. There are other rewards.

Not just the cups, cookies, lotions and potions, gift cards and notes.

The smiles,

The thank yous.

The success stories.

The laughter and the tears.

The hugs.

The lessons I've taught and the lessons I've learned.

Knowing I may have made a difference now and then. 

Some think you were my Plan B.

You were, but not really.

It turns out, I loved you all along.

I just didn't know it yet.

Monday, March 7, 2022


“Life is mighty precious when there’s less of it to waste.” — Bonnie Rait

When I was a little girl, my birthdays weren't just special, they were a big deal. I mean, between my mama and my grannie, my birthdays became events

There was always cake from the Spic 'n Span bakery, always ice cream (Brown's Velvet Neapolitan), always Hawaiian Punch in Grannie's milk glass punchbowl, always lots of family and school friends, and always lots of presents. 

Some of these events got a little crazy. For one, my mom rented an entire set of kids' carnival rides a few blocks down the street. For my 10th, one of my classmates delivered a report on the following Monday detailing everything he ate at my birthday party.  At my 11th, several of my friends debuted our brand new "Granny dresses," which had just replaced mini-dresses as the hottest fashion trend. And Ricky Farmer kissed me while we were slow dancing at my 12th. I celebrated getting my driver's license at my 15th and got to drive my two besties to dinner.

Surprisingly, I didn't get a big Sweet 16 party, even though I really wanted one. I brought a cake to the local Shakey's Pizza Parlor, though, and invited a bunch of my friends. My 17th birthday was actually celebrated in one of my favorite bar/restaurants at the mall. The Louisiana drinking age was 18 then, so my friends put 18 candles on my cake. I was such a regular that no one even questioned it. 

My real 18th birthday was celebrated at another hometown restaurant with my mom and my boyfriend at the time. My 19th birthday was my first away from home. I cried in my college dorm room. I think several of the next birthdays were celebrated at various bars in New Orleans, including the venerable Pat O'Brien's. 

Then things got lowkey for a while -- until I turned 30 and gave myself a pretty big bash where everyone wore black to celebrate the "end of my youth." 

30 Hurt

Since then, there have been few truly memorable birthdays. I expected my husband would acknowledge my 40th and 50th in some ways, but, you know -- baseball season. But Mardi Gras landed on my 51st, then I took my two favorite friends to the beach for my 52nd, 

and threw myself an epic big 70s disco party for my 54th.

And just a few hours from now I will mark another BIG one. Sixty. 


When I was young, I used to think 60 was so old. I remember when my Grannie and Grandpa were 60 for goodness sakes! They both retired from their jobs at 65. They were old people. Then my grannie lived to be 88. My grandpa lived to be 90. My mom died at 84.

I'm not a math whiz by any means, but if the law of averages holds up, that means I have about 20 years left to live on this earth. Just 20 years

That's not a lot of time...

to write that next book...

to get my others published...

to read that stack in the corner...

to move to the beach...

to visit Scotland and Hawaii...

to go to a college World Series...

to see my daughters get married and have a child...

to see my husband and my stepson win state championships...

to eat crabs and steak and cake with whipped icing...

and to celebrate birthdays....

I've been pretty sad thinking about this the past few weeks, realizing that I'm on the downslope of time and everything else. When I was 30, I wished I had the body I'd had at 25. When I was 40 I would have killed for the body I had at 30. At 50, I wished I could go back and slap my 40-year-old self. Now I'm 60 and wonder why I can't still dance down the street to the local park like I used to. Or pull weeds. Or sweep. 

And what the hell happened to my damn eyebrows?! 

I'm lucky, so far (knock wood), to have good health with only some aches and pains and a still-working brain. Maybe it's good genes. My mama, even though she had a heart murmur for most of her life, worked until she was 82, commuting every day to the French Quarter and partying at the casino every chance she got. She got a little dementia at the end, but I swear I believe it was the meds they had her on. My Grannie had a rougher time with diabetes and her arthritis, but she and Grandpa were entertaining the old folks at the old folks' homes in Houma well into their 70s. 

So, as I begin my 721st month on earth, I will try to be grateful for every moment I get and for every item I get to cross off that bucket list and for every moment of joy I find. I will try to fight time and keep my body and my brain in good working order. I will live, laugh, love, eat, drink and be merry. I will eat crabs and steak and cake as often as I can. I will try to get my family together as often as I can. I will listen to 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s music and sing the lyrics because I remember them and I will drag my husband to all the old bands' casino reunion concerts. I will dance in my car and while I'm doing the dishes. I will float in my pool until my solar lights come on. I will read trashy romance novels -- and some good ones too. I will binge watch Netflix. I will go to the beach. I will continue to try to teach young people how to write a sentence, a lead, and a headline. I will watch baseball and football games and every Olympics opening ceremony. I will drive with the windows down. I will plant more roses (even though Marty hates them). I will keep my plants alive. I will go out to dinner. I will cherish every moment with my kids and my grandkids, my grand nieces and nephews. I will love my dogs (even when they hog the bed). I will write when I need to and continue to tell stories, including those two next books. I will waste some of my time on Facebook. OK. I will waste a lot of my time on Facebook. 

I will remember that this is time that so many did not get -- my daddy, my brother, Parker, several of my classmates, kids I wrote about, my friend Connie and so many other Covid victims, the two Wandas, Pete, Mark, Ed, Brandon...

And I'm going to celebrate every birthday as though it might be my last because I always do -- starting with Saturday's 60s themed party for old hippies.



Saturday, February 5, 2022


When Gail Lodrigue handed me that tiny shrimp-colored baby on that cold January day 21 years ago, I thought all my dreams had been answered.

I could not have been more wrong. 

Besides all the years I had thought about the day I would become a mom someday, I had been actively dreaming of having a child for the previous six years. No, I had been actively working on it. So when a nearly complete stranger handed me hers just a few moments after giving birth, it was the culmination of years of work. I thought it also would be the end of years of pain and angst.

But as any other mother will tell you, nothing hurts more than being a mom. And it begins almost immediately.

When Nurse Danielle came in to our little makeshift corner of the NICU and asked if we had held our new baby girl yet, she was our hero. But a few minutes later when she made my baby cry, scream and squirm while she held the little shrimp under the faucet and began scrubbing away the remnants of her birth, I was ready to punch Nurse Danielle in the face.

And later that night when we decided not to force the hospital staff to give us a room because they were scarce that weekend and we decided to just go spend the night at my brother’s house nearby, I spent the whole night regretting it. I tossed and turned and, when I did sleep, had nightmares about something happening to my new baby girl while I wasn’t there. It’s 21 years later and I still have guilt over leaving her that night.

But, that’s what being a mom is — a lifetime of worry, guilt and pain for your child. I’m now 21 years in to that life and, fortunately, it hasn’t been too bad. There have been no major disappointments or broken dreams. She went through school as an Honor Roll student, had friends, sang in the choir, won the Young Authors contest a few times, didn’t have a bully. She didn’t fall in love so there was no broken heart to contend with. The only drama we had was when she failed to get into the district’s Talented Art program — twice, which is utterly and completely absurd if you ask me. Don't get me started. 

Then she got into the college of her choice with a full ride, earned a spot in its choir, became an editor at the school newspaper, had her bestie for a roommate and scored more achievements and honors. And now she does have a boyfriend, one who doesn’t make her cry. 

And now that she is entering her final year of college, she is full of big dreams. She wants to be a journalist, but not like her mama. She wants to write about music and bands, maybe work for one as a publicist. She wants to get married and have children, and she wants to move away from our tiny town and spread her wings. 

And as much as that thought hurts my heart, I have to accept that her dreams are now my dreams. You see, once we become moms, our dreams don’t really matter that much anymore. Oh, I still dream about living in a beach house one day, but more than that, I dream for my kids. I dream that my stepson will win a state championship in football and be lauded as the Coach of the Year. I dream that every football player who goes to Tulane will meet and remember my stepdaughter and thank her for all that she does. I also hope that she finds her prince. And I hope that my daughter becomes a wonderfully successful writer in a big city with a handsome significant other who treats her right (the way her dad treats me), that she as as many children as she wants with ease. And pets. And that she lives a long, healthy happy life.

And that she comes to visit me at the beach sometime.