November 26, 2020

Family Memories

By Glenn

My dad, CW3 Yves “Buster” Melancon, served twenty seven years in the United States Army. This meant that most of my first fourteen years were away from my extended family.  Holidays were a treat. 

Unlike my cousins, whose parents stayed closer to South Louisiana, I only saw my grandparents at Christmas.  Eventually, I only saw my grandmothers.  Both of my grandfathers died before I developed any real memory of them. Death cuts short new memories.

From second to fifth grade we lived in Bamberg, Germany.  During those three years, we were almost completely isolated from our family.   In 1973 a long distance call was expensive and an overseas call was a luxury.

Bamberg Rider

Dad retired in 1980, and we moved to “The West Bank” across from New Orleans for his new life.  The metroplex offered him a variety of job opportunities.  I’m sure a big benefit for both my mom and dad was living within an hour of their mothers and most of her brothers and sisters. 

We did see them more often, especially at huge Cajun weddings.  My mom had twelve brothers and sisters, and I had 50 cousins on her side.  During my high school years, we gathered to eat, drink, and dance.  For the first time I got to know my cousins.

After those brief four years, I moved off to college in Lafayette.  Visits home became less and less frequent.  At that point Christmas became an annual event at my parent’s house.  My dad’s mother had a stroke and moved into their house.  Dad’s siblings and my cousins all gathered to put a smile on Maw Maw’s face.

In 1989 I married Jackie.  We met in Lafayette, but remarkably she had grown up in my mom’s home parish, St. Charles.  Jackie knew many of my cousins on the “Landeche side” of the family.  Our wedding was in Luling, Louisiana, not far from New Orleans.  Both of our families and many of our high school and college friends attended.  We sure passed a good time.

Over the next four years, I worked on my Masters and Doctorate in History.  Since Jackie was teaching in Lafayette, we lived there.  Luckily, her extended family on her mom’s side lived within an hour.  We had plenty of support for our first son, Christopher, and then Alexandre was born.

We both knew life would change when I graduated from LSU.  That’s when I got a job at Southeastern in Durant.  We found ourselves hours away from home, but not family.  I had two aunts that lived in North Texas.  They had come here long ago to work at TI. 

This year will be different.  Christopher is in the US Army and Alexandre is in the US Air Force.  We don’t know exactly what Christmas will look like, but Jackie and I will be eating Thanksgiving dinner alone.  We want to make sure the people we love stay safe to make memories with them.  

Our parents taught us that true love requires sacrifices. We will live to celebrate together next year.

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