Archie Jr. was recently kidding his mom about her loving,
playful way of spitting watermelon seeds at you. It seems that
when everyone would be at a family gathering and eating watermelon,
suddenly - smack! A watermelon seed would hit you on the side
of the head. You'd look around, not see anyone who looked responsible
and go back to eating. Next thing you know - smack! Another watermelon
seed. Eventually, after a few more seeds, you'd catch Carolyn
in the act.
Carolyn loved to do the unexpected, and if surprising you with a watermelon seed was a way to get a smile, she'd do it. She lived her life joyfully and generously shared this joy with others, no matter what personal challenges she faced.
Because Carolyn didn't let challenges get in her way. Most
people never knew she was blind in one eye from a childhood accident.
She was it wouldn't keep her from doing anything. And it didn't.
Carolyn and Archie, her loving husband of 58 years, worked hard and sacrificed to give her three sons the best they could. They both had full time careers, commuting home to the suburbs and always finding the energy to put hot meals on the table for the family every night.
Archie was the love of Carolyn's life. They enjoyed the same things and did everything together. They traveled, enjoyed their fishing camp, enjoyed their camper trailer, Mardi Gras parades, Mardi Gras balls, visiting family and friends. She was constantly recounting the fun they had, the new friends they made and how many people liked them.
And Carolyn adored her three boys, her seven grandchildren and her great-granddaughter. She was proud enough to brag to anyone who'd give her the time, and even to some who wouldn't. To her three sons, Carolyn was an inspiration and a guiding hand. She was always telling them there was nothing they couldn't do if they put their minds to it. And often, when they were ready to throw in the towel on something, she'd offer suggestions and challenge them to find a way, find the time, find an answer.
Which is exactly how she managed to balance her rich family life with
a career as a sought-after biological lab technician. Carolyn was invited to work with a number of doctors on significant pieces of medical research. She was valued for her attention to detail, her commitment to the goals and deadlines of the project, and her resourcefulness in solving problems. The doctors she worked with praised her, noting, in their own words, "her ability to take a project and improve on it remarkably." Many of her research projects were published, and she often received top credit, over the doctor's name. She was especially proud of two of these projects"The Neurological Effect of Three-Centimeter Microwave Irradiation." And "The Staining of Brunner's Gland and Other Neutral Mucins by Carmine, Hematozylin and Orcein in Alkaline Solutions." And she understood what that meant.
As most of you know, Carolyn prized creativity and imagination
and was filled with it. That was apparent in everything she did.
For example, her Easter egg hunts were legendary. Much like traditional
hunts, she'd hide plastic eggs and give prizes to those who found
the most. But, each year she'd think of a new twist. Such as the
year Archie Jr. tried to surprise her by sneaking in his own cache
of plastic eggs, identical to the ones she usually hid. And he'd
have gotten away with it, too. Only, once again, Carolyn had thought
of a new twist, marking each of the eggs she'd hidden with a special
prize code. Archie, Jr. was foiled.
Originally, the prizes for the Easter egg hunt were always cash. Then one year, Carolyn did the unexpected again, giving out prizes of groceries: boxes of macaroni and cheese, canned vegetables, red beans by the bag - the odder and funnier the better. And somehow, she always managed to make everything come out fair and even for all, with everyone, somehow, winning exactly what she wanted them to win. And she always knew what would make them laugh.
The egg hunt was always held in Carolyn and Archie's back yard - in the gardens they proudly nurtured. Carolyn would offer you a tour of the garden every time you went over to the house, and there was always something new she wanted to show you. It could be a beautiful flower in bloom or a new tomato or eggplant just starting to ripen. And she was always eager to share everything she grew, whether it was something good to eat or something to brighten up a room.
Carolyn and Archie were always good with their hands - resourceful at fixing things and imaginative at making something out of nothing. Eventually they found their niche and creative outlet through folk crafts. They created a wide variety of fabric, wood, painted and sewn crafts, ultimately zeroing in on Angel Dolls. Archie made the heads, and Carolyn made the rest - from fabric she'd gather from here and there. Sometimes she'd use an old quilt given by a relative, some antique handmade lace, even her own grandmother's dresses she'd inherited. Each angel doll had its own name, and Carolyn could tell you the origin and story behind each piece of fabric on it.
She was very proud of the popularity of these dolls at the
craft shows and boutiques they attended, and with the fact that
they were sold in a shop in the French Quarter to appreciative
collectors from all over the world. She even used her imagination
to customize special theme dolls for the holidays and created
modified versions of her angel dolls for topping Christmas trees.
One of her proudest moments came when our church invited her to
make the angel for the top of our Christmas tree. She named it
Glorious, and it is!
Carolyn never drank, never smoked. That was the explanation she offered when asked why her skin looked so young. Just several months ago, she'd get really tickled when doctors would walk into her room and think they had the wrong chart. People were always surprised to learn she wasn't as young as she lookedand lived!
Carolyn had a rich and wonderful life. She accomplished everything she put her mind to. She was a devoted wife. A loving and inspirational mother. And now it's her turn to be with the other angels in Heaven.
So, one day, if you're outside, and there are a few clouds in the sky, the birds are singing, and suddenly - smack! A watermelon seed hits you on the side of the head, you'll know exactly where it came from.