I met my Amy Soileau Dupre Veillon a few months after my mother died. Father Joe Breaux introduced us in this very church. I did not know that in two years she would become my second mother – my mother-in-law.
It’s a long story.
She has a long story. She has many, many long stories: Amy stories, Momma stories, MawMaw, Granny and Great-Granny stories.
We are all part of her story. This church is a huge part of her story.
She was all in when it came to her Catholic faith. This was her home, her peace, her place to recharge. And then she gave it back with so much love – almost more love than one person should possess.
Her love had a gravitational pull that you could not escape. Once you came into her orbit you were family.
We still do the Granny Tap at home. She would sit next to you and slap your leg with quick little taps as if to say “Isn’t this nice, the two of us here together. Let’s enjoy. I love you.”
“Uh, Baby, fix me a plate.”
If there was a better cook than Amy Veillon I never met them. She taught me more about cooking than I could learn from any TV show. And I would try to cook like her. I would try so hard to get my kids to say “It smells like Granny’s house!’ But no one’s house could smell as good as Granny’s. Two words: shrimp dip.
Now her pecan praline cake was amazing, but can we have a moment of silence for that bleeping Coconut Wait Cake! It’s immortalized in Tony Chachere’s Second Helping cookbook, and so many have tried. They’re come very close, too, but I’ll tell you, they only know the words. She knew the music.
When we lived away Cathy would come home sometimes five or six times a year. I said she had to go home to recharge her smile. After I lost Cathy I was still going home to recharge my own smile.
Then one day I came home with a smile of my own, and I was hesitant to tell her why. I finally did share with her that I met Pamela, and Miss Amy cried. But she told me something that has stayed with me to this day.
She said that I must have been very much in love with Cathy because someone with so much love has to share it with another.
Then I remembered that she walked my same path a long time before. Married to L.T. Dupre for 20 years they were blessed with 8 children before she was widowed so young. Later Mr. Cliff blessed her with five more, and for the next 40 years they grew 40 grandchildren, 48 great grandchildren and 4 great-great grandchildren.
Like I said, her love was immense. She not only embraced my new family, but she treated them no differently. There were no asterisks. She had new grandchildren and great grandchildren, and she never forgot any of them.
I lived with Miss Amy for a year after she offered me a place to stay for a couple of weeks when I was relocating from Florida. No one could have written a better sitcom.
I sat in Mr. Cliff’s chair and she in hers. She always had a candy bowl nearby, probably black jelly beans, and the clicker. She could wield that TV remote like a weapon. I clocked her at 63 channels in 12 seconds once. But at 6:30 every evening forget about phoning her because The Wheel was on. And I learned that it was impolite to guess the puzzle before she did.
One night she was zipping back and forth between Antiques Roadshow and a baseball game. Boy, she loved her some sports, almost any sports. She was flipping so fast between the two that I sent a text to my wife “I think Derek Jeter just bought a rare armoire.”
Her love was unlimited. Her patience? Eh. Let’s say she knew what to expect from people and she demanded it.
Miss Amy was a saint to put up with me for a year. But the real halo belongs to her daughter Marilyn, who, for the last eight years, tended to her every need and made her comfortable. All of the sons and daughters played a role, but Marilyn stepped up and offered her home as Mom’s home. And for that we offer our undying gratitude.
So many stories.
As Karl said it’s the end of the world as we know it. She was our constant, our North Star, our heroine.
Now we have to say au revoir, a bientot.
But the story of Little Amy Soileau from Goyoville (sorry, I channeled Mr. Cliff had for a second there) has not come to a close. Her story lives on in each one of us, and we must always remember to live it with a smile, with faith, with perseverance and above all with love just as she has showed us.
We are all blessed to have been a part of her story.
Eulogy delivered at the Rite of Christian Burial 7/6/2020.
Categories: What was I thinking?