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Chapter 11 Katrina Living in a nightmare

It is now nearing the holidays, yet nothing was changing. The end of October was only a couple of days away.

I sat in our cottage Halloween night, with a small bag of candy, knowing there would be no trick or treaters. Halloween for over thirty years was gone, but the memories remained.

I would give out 7 or 8 huge bags of candy, some came back 3 or 4 times I loved hearing their laughter. I knew the kids went down the street, changed mask and came back.

I miss my neighbors sitting on their porch handing out goodies, year after year each Halloween. I wonder if they thought about the past Halloweens on Hoxie this year? I'm not sure how they would feel.

I guess that little girl in me will never go away, God I hope not. I loved Halloween when I was a kid. Maybe I was just being silly but I missed the laughter. Now it was like any other day, sad isn't it?

I guess I am truly a romantic,are there any more like me? People that treasure those wonderful years of fun and laughter?

I will never let go of the times Mom took my sister and I Trick or Treating. Gosh, here I sit at almost two in the morning writing this book, missing my Mom so bad. I know things change, you can't live in the past, but you can store the memories.

I must tell you of a few people that came into our life. Right after we moved to Ocean Springs we went to the grocery store to get a few things. I met Alicia the first day,she was so nice and welcomed us to the neighborhood. The next time we went I took Alicia a set of my books. We are friends she is a sweet person.

Then along came Mickie, now she is a trip funny when you need her to be, understanding in times of sadness. We talk almost daily, she calls me or I call her. Mickie has her hands full working, and taking care of her husband Dennis.

One day not long before Thanksgiving the phone rang, I answered it. " Hi you don't know me, but I am a friend of Jenette's ( Victoria) to me. My name is Ann and I just wanted to call you. tell you I care."

The moment I heard her voice it was like I had known her all my life. We talked about Katrina and the home Buster and I had lost. I told her about our little cottage, how grateful we were to have it to live in.

I told her about this book and the other books I had written that were published.

She spoke to Buster, the three of us became close that first night.We talked about Jacee, my son John and his wife Jackie's little girl.

I asked Ann for nothing told her we were okay but she had a plan in mind. She wanted to be Jacee's secret Santa. Now do you see what I mean? Ann is a great person. Boxes started arriving from Ann, things for all of us, not just Jacee.

I sent her a set of my books, it made me feel good when she read them called and said " Johnnie I love your books".

Ann walked into our life when we needed her and she needed us. It is like we have known each other forever.

She and Jackie talk on the phone just like Buster and I talk to Ann. Jacee loves talking to her, it also makes Ann's day. She is apart of our family.

Thanksgiving eve, I was putting togehter the ingredients for my " famous" dressing. My moms tried and true, never fails to delight your taste buds. I'm sorry did it sound to you that I was bragging? Well, you are very observant, I was. I think of mom each time I make it, I hope she can somehow know I still make her dressing.

The next day the family went to our daughters home for dinner. She had the only house left standing that had room for us all.

As I walked in, there was the dinning set, the one Buster and I had spent so many happy hours just being together.

The food was all good, yet I could hardly eat anything, there goes my IBS again. As we sat there I had such mixed emotions. One made me smile, Katrina had not gotten our table. The other a deep, hurtful sadness knowing that it would never be at 177 Hoxie St. again.

I remember the last Christmas my Mom and my Brother were in their trailer. They had shared a home Mom was very sick and so was my brother. My sisters and I took turns going over cooking, cleaning, taking my brother to the store or whatever they needed that day.

Just after Christmas 1997 I was taking the tree down for them. I had all the ornaments and tree boxed up.

The words my brother said will never leave me, " why don't you put that in your trunk, this is our last Christmas together". I tried to reason with him but he meant what he said, so I put the things in my trunk.

I had plans to just leave them there, put them up for Mom and my brother again.

By the following August they both chose to go into seprate nursing homes.

My brother passed away in November of 1998. The following Christmas 1999 would be the last time I would put up a tree n Hoxie until 2005.

My son Curtis was killed in a car wreck in January of 2000. Mom died in December of 2000.

It was like my spirit was broken, I could not put up a Christmas Tree. I bought gifts, celebrated, but no tree. At long last in 2005 I put up a tree in our home on Hoxie, the last Christmas we would ever have there.

Then along came Christmas in our cottage, I had not planed to put a tree up. I just could not see a reason to but then I saw Jackie's tree. She had a huge tree covered with white Angels. It had every month of the year on it. This was her memorial tree, for the people that lost their lifes in Katrina.

She told me where I could buy the Angles. I put my small tree up with an Angel for each of my children, Buster and when Buster and I were married. There was also an Angel for all the people in our family that had passed away.

Ann sent us so many wonderful gifts. Cindy Victoria's daughter and many of their friends sent us gifts also.

I will put up a tree every year now, the "Angel Tree" and add Angels each year. Some of the Angels will be for all these people who made me see what Christmas means to me now.

When I celebrate the birth of Jesus, I will celebrate the people He has put in our life.

I think people come into your life for a reason, if it be a mere 5 minutes or over thirty years.

We had joy, sadness, and grief on Hoxie Street. Some of the people from Hoxie will always be apart of me. I may never see some of them again some of them I might.

Buster and I have been blessed to have these new people in our life. I have a feeling they will be here for a long, long time.

I sat in our living room New Years Eve and then it happened, poof 2005 was gone, it was now 2006! Thank God 2005 was gone!

I looked into my scented candle and said " it's all going to be fine" I was wrong, very wrong.

Dad told me we all have an Angel.

I'd like you to meet mine.

GABRIELLE LEE

Come sit down beside me for a spell,

Let me tell you the story of my Gabrielle.

The first time I saw her I was only three,

I was scared of that big dog behind the tree.

She came to my rescue chased him away,

She has never left my side 'til this very day.

The first time I talked to her I was only four,

She said honey don't you worry about that boy next door.

She told me her name was Gabrielle Lee,

She was sent from Heaven to protect me.

She laughed at me when I wanted to drive,

She gave me a hug " you are only five".

She sat by my bed each and every night,

Told me stories of wonder and delight.

Everyone said she was my imaginary friend,

When they said that she would look at me and grin.

She was there holding my hand in times of sorrow,

She always reminded me look for tomorrow.

She has been by my side throughout the years,

Always been there through laughter and tears.

She is a bit bent her clothes tattered and torn,

From caring for me from the day I was born.

She took me for walks beside a clear stream,

She taught me to never let go of my dreams.

Most of all she still stands by me.

My Angel, my friend, my Gabrielle Lee.

ęcopyrights ~ Johnnie Oakes ~

10/31/02