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Robichaux: Sharing memories of Kathy Wilson Robichaux

Immortality isn’t the stuff of legends, anti-aging potions or vampires with pointy teeth. Immortality is memories passed down through the generations, reminding us that this person was here. They were real and they were loved.

The dead are never really dead to us as long as we continue to speak their name. Today, I want to share memories of my grandmother, Kathy Elaine Wilson Robichaux, who passed away from cancer complications on Oct. 16, 2015.

She was a lifelong resident of St. John the Baptist Parish and a parishioner of St. Joan of Arc Church. My Granny lived for decades in a little raised house with stone steps and a porch swing off of Old Highway 51 in LaPlace. She and my grandfather, Lynn Robichaux Sr., raised five children in that house.

Granny was incredibly empathetic. I think she took things to heart more than most people, and she was most content when her family was happy. Every year, even when her children were adults, she ordered my dad and my Aunt Denice a half-lemon, half-chocolate doberge cake from Cora and Dora. My dad asked her once why his sister’s name was always listed first on the cake. He was only joking (she was exactly one year older than him, after all), but every year after that, my dad’s name was always listed first.

If my cousins and I argued on vacation, as children do, she would channel her energy into the kitchen. Soon, there would be a fresh batch of peanut butter fudge or some other delicacy that diverted our attention without fail.

Oh, how she could cook macaroni and cheese, dirty rice, and green bean and chicken and broccoli casseroles. Most of these meals were eaten along with birthday cake the last week of each July at Hillcrest Lake Villas in Abita Springs.

It was not, by any means, the most high-class vacation spot. It’s only an hour from home. The dock is falling apart and the “lake” has been coated with thick, green algae for at last half my life. Despite its flaws, Granny looked at that lake and remembered how beautiful it was in the 1980s.

On that last week of July each year, I would get up early in the morning with her and sip hot tea mixed with milk. It looked just like coffee, but neither of us were coffee drinkers. With her tea and a cigarette in hand, she would head out to the balcony and revel in the nature around her. She saw beauty in the swampy cypress trees and heard music in the calls of birds.

Destin, Florida was another place where she loved to sit out on the balcony and listen to the soft roar of the ocean. The beach was usually our first vacation of the summer, and Hillcrest was the second.

Granny loved music and dancing. I remember riding in her car in summer 2013 as she showed me the new Sirius XM stations on her radio. She was so excited to transport herself back to the sounds of the 1950s and 60s with the touch of a button. It was always a joy to her to hear my more musically inclined cousins play songs from The Beatles on their guitars.

As in tune as she was to the past, Granny also seemed to have some degree of intuition about the future. I think she had a touch of a sixth sense, if there is such a thing.

Weeks before Hurricane Isaac, Granny became so nervous and kept talking about rising water. She couldn’t get it out of her head. The little house she raised her family in had withstood Hurricane Camille, but it was Category 1 Hurricane Isaac that brought the flood and led to the home being demolished. By that point, my grandparents had moved next door to the house my great grandparents once occupied.

Above all, Granny was a caretaker. She worked for years as a home health nurse, and her caring nature extended far past her career. It has evident in her compassion for animals. One of the last times I visited her before she went in the hospital, she put a bowl of food on the porch for what I assumed to be a cat. Within seconds, the fattest opossum I have ever seen waddled toward her, sniffing around for its afternoon meal.

July 4, 2015 was the day everything started unraveling health-wise. I’m thankful to still have many good memories to make up for the sad ones that came at the end.

I love reading stories about the people in our community. Our newspaper, in some ways, is like a community yearbook. If you would like to write down and share memories of a loved one, please contact me.

Brooke Robichaux is news editor for L’OBSERVATEUR. She can be reached at 985-652-9545 or at brooke.robichaux@lobservateur.com.