Our family took a little road trip a few weeks ago. Many people call this a vacation, but when you travel with my husband, it is a road trip as we do a lot of driving and looking and “let’s see what’s down this dirt road” kind of thing. But I digress. We arrived in Durango, Colorado on a beautiful, sunny, 80 degree, no humidity afternoon. We spent several days in this cute little town that was formed when the railroad was being built. We travelled to Cortez and Pagosa Springs, then to Taos, Santa Fe, and Roswell in New Mexico. We saw some breathtaking sights, enjoyed perfect weather and spent some quality family time together. One of the best experiences we had was meeting a woman at Denny’s in Big Spring, Texas. She was a little fireball of a woman that bussed tables for a living. She sat down with us to chat and it turns out she is from Chalmette. She relocated from Katrina as a single mom, with her three sons who at the time were ages 15, 13 and 11. Not long after she relocated, she had a stroke due to a brain aneurysm. The doctors told her only 2% of patients survived the type of stroke she had. She simply told them they had never met a Cajun before.
Due to financial reasons, she has never been able to go back—not even to visit her parents. When we asked if she liked it in Big Spring, her eyes got wide and she said, “Oh no. What kind of place is it that you can’t go outside barefooted because something will bite or sting you, the water is undrinkable, and the hot wind always blows?” She went on to say, “I told my sons if you bury me with my shoes on, I’ll come back and haunt you.” She paused for a moment and added, “I miss the grass under my feet.” And while she may have had every reason to be sad or bitter, she was just the opposite—joyful and full of life. We gave her a hug when we left and offered her a ride back. For a moment, I seriously thought she was going to take us up on it. She walked arm in arm with us and told everyone in the restaurant, “Goodbye ya’ll, I’m going home.” I thought of her for many miles down the road. I admire her tenacity and felt so inspired by her example of survival of the human spirit. I hope she gets to go back home one day and feel the grass under her feet.
P.S. If you are ever in Big Spring, Texas stop by Denny’s and ask for Joann.