|Words to the wise...
"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C. S. Lewis
"The most outrageous lies that can be invented will find believers if a person
only tells them with all his might." - Mark Twain
"It is difficult for those to see whose paycheck depends on them not seeing."
- Upton Sinclair.
"It doesn't matter whether inaccurate information is intentionally or accidentally put in our paths,
we have the uobligation to know that something is accurate before we repeat it. And it doesn't matter whether the slander is
directed at friends or enemies." - James P. Tartaro.
Maxie Martin Chauvin, 1921 - 2004
My Mom didn't have it easy.
Her education ended abruptly at the eighth grade so she could help her
family survive the Great Depression. Regardless,
she continued learning all of her life, setting an example that reverberated
throughout my life, my brotherís and our sisters' lives and her grandchildren's
I think that Mom would appreciate a eulogy, even a belated
one - I was barely able to stand and speak simple sentences at her funeral in
des Allemands, Louisiana - in which her intelligence and determination to learn
and achieve despite what today would be considered crushing adversity was
celebrated, so that's exactly what she's going to get.
Mom went through three husbands in her lifetime. Her first husband, Herbert Guidry, drowned
tragically, leaving her with five young girls to care for. Her second husband, Armand
"Lerrie" Frickey - my younger son's namesake and my brother's and my
father - took my sisters in, and he and Mom raised us all until he died of a
heart attack at the age of thirty-eight, leaving Mom with my sister Brenda, my
brother Dwight, and me to finish raising.
After Dad died, Mom took in other people's laundry to wash
and iron, and sewed and mended, too.
Then a lump grew in her one of her breasts, a lump of cancer. I remember my sister Paula and her husband
Frank, a generous, irascible, tough Tunica Indian from Marksville, taking me into their home while Mom went to the hospital in New Orleans to be treated.
In the early 1960s, oncology barely existed as a medical specialty, so Mom endured a radical mastectomy, then doses of radiation that left half of her body scarred and discolored for the rest of her life. She came back home, battled the lingering effects of her surgery and radiation treatment, a crippling bout with depression, and went back to taking in other people's laundry in order to make the pension checks go farther.
And you know, Mom prevailed. It wasn't pretty at times, because great battles seldom are, but
she kicked adversity a new ass. Mom's
laundry business gave way to better work clerking in a discount store ten miles
down the road, and she eventually became assistant manager of one store, then
manager of another. For years, Mom's
store was the most efficiently-run part of the Dollar General chain in the Gulf
Coast, month after month, because Mom had attended what is sometimes the best
school for business, the University of Hard Knocks.
By the time I'd left des Allemands for college in Baton
Rouge, Mom had much time on her hands, and was re-introduced to Joe Chauvin,
who she knew as a child. Before I knew
it, those impetuous kids had run off to a Justice of the Peace and gotten
married. At the time I was fighting
both severe depression - and in those days, there was no magic pill to handle
that, no more than there was for Mom - and teenage stupidity, and I didn't make
it to their wedding, something I regret to this day.
Mom and Joe had their ups and downs, but they stayed
together until Joe died last fall, after twenty-nine years of marriage and a
gradual decline in health. Joe Chauvin
was a hard-working man who had had about the same number of hard knocks in his
life that Mom had had in hers. He made
"Frank Barone" in Everybody Loves Raymond look like a wuss,
but he'd also give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. Toughness and extreme generosity aren't the
worst combination in the world.
In fact, what made Joe Chauvin gruff and opinionated was the same personality that has kept our country free all these years - men who were tough when toughness was called for and also knew how to take care of their families. Joseph Chauvin bore a lingering death graced with some of the more painful and less dignified complaints of extreme old age with courage and resignation to what he knew must be..
Joe was in constant misery and in his last year, he'd reached the point where the resources we all draw on to put on a brave face for others had almost run out. Nonetheless, Joe did reach out past his pain to reach out, as much as his condition permitted. It was not so much sad to watch, as infuriating that someone who had led a decent life and not done anything to deserve a life of torment nonethless, had one - it's not difficult to imagine more deserving candidates for such an end.
After Joe died, Mom began to decline, too. I spent a couple of weeks with her in des
Allemands when it looked like she was getting over what had put her in the
hospital just after Joe died, and honestly, she looked all right - until she
started having trouble and we had to bring her back to the hospital. She didn't even have to stay overnight while
I was there, so when my sister Brenda called to let me know Mom had gotten
badly ill again, I could feel my heart drop through my shoes to the floor under
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Mom went to live with Brenda, who works from her home in
Elton, 200 miles from des Allemands and could be with her all the time, and
went into her final decline in the spring of 2004. I took the bus down from Denver to be with her those last two
weeks of her life, and as ghastly as the story of Jesus climbing Mount Calvary
to be crucified seemed to me as a child, watching my Mom slide out of life,
shedding her usual sharp awareness of everything around her and seeing her die
by inches is something that will never leave me.
For months after Mom died, when I dreamed of home, she was
there in my dreams. Four days ago, I
had the first dream about home in which Mom had passed on, the way she had in
real life. I don't even pretend to know
what that means. My wife Denise thinks
it is my subconscious mind's way of accepting what is. All I know is that it's high time I wrote
this and put it out on the Net - it's not much, certainly not as much as Mom deserves, but it's what I have.
Mom, you touched so many lives and asked for very little for yourself.
May God find a nice place for you in Heaven, and give you that wonderful chair you gilded with your work for others here on Earth.
Denise, I and the kids send our love and ask again for your prayers.
|Denise's and my grandson (Mom's great-grandson) and our son (Mom's grandson) Eric!!
|Eric gave us a grandson - Brandon William Pellegrin-Frickey. He's bigger than this now, I'll update ASAP.
Vance's Links to Interesting Stuff
A page of military-related links all over the Web : These links are intended for the use of military enthusiasts, historians, writers, modeling hobbyists, and others.
"I'll sleep when I'm dead,"a song by Warren Zevon. Some of you reading this will understand why I like it.
Neat sites which don't fit in with any of my other link pages.
"Christian Urban Legends" This Canadian site exposes several false rumors and outright lies which are circulating all over the Christian and other religious communities. Fascinating reading, especially if someone in YOUR life constantly insists that the Procter and Gamble soap company is owned by satanists and/or the Unification Church.
Vance's Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Links: a lot of good data on "emerging diseases" such as Ebola, weaponized disease strains, chemical weapons, radiological and nuclear weapons and the defenses against them mounted here in the U.S. and around the world.
NOTICE: There is no information on this site on how to make a weapon of mass destruction. Disseminating information on how to make such weapons is a violation of Federal (U.S.A.) Law (18 USC 842, et seq.) which I will report to the proper authorities should I learn of it.
And spacecraft get their own page -
Vance's Rocket and Spacecraft Links- A number of links I have found which may prove interesting to spaceship and rocket junkies, some history, some obscure current information.