Thursday, September 8, 2005

Close to Nowhere
By Linda Jones

Christine is found

It’s been a long, hard journey for many, many people and I am happy to report that for one of the ones I love, at least they’re safe.

It was a huge relief the Monday morning that Katrina hit the coast to hear Christine’s voice on the telephone saying she and “Grandma” were safe and out of harm’s way.

They’d left their home in New Orleans at around midnight and got to Jackson (Miss.) around 2:30 a.m. They’d stopped at a gas station and getting back on the Interstate they got lost. Instead of heading north, towards our house, they somehow went west and ended up in Monroe, La.

Christine is not technically family, but as my friend Jane says, “she’s related by heart, not by blood.”

Christine and our daughter have been “best” friends since elementary school. Christine’s dad was in the Navy and was transferred to Millington Naval Station. We lived out near Shelby Forest; and Christine’s family moved into our subdivision.

Originally from New Orleans, it was a long time before I could completely understand everything that Judy, Christine’s mom would say — she had a very Creole accent.

Christine and Dana spent endless hours on their bikes, cruising the neighborhood and playing in a nearby field — both were/are very tomboyish, so they spent most of their waking hours outside.

Christine’s dad was transferred again and it broke both the girls’ hearts when she left. But unlike many childhood friendships, this one lasted. Christine spent quite a few summers here in Mississippi with us after we moved here and a couple times traveling through, she and her parents would stop and spend a night.

Christine’s mom had been diagnosed with cancer and treated for several years before she finally passed away. Six months after her death, Christine’s dad died — they diagnosed colon cancer shortly after Judy died and he passed away within a few months after diagnosis.

Christine eventually moved in with her maternal grandmother, who has always lived in New Orleans. We’ve gone to New Orleans several times since to visit her.

Christine had begun nursing school not too long ago, so her visiting our neck of the woods again had been put on hold for a while.

It was a huge relief to hear her voice Monday morning; but then we didn’t hear from them again until Friday. Grandma didn’t want to “impose” on us, and with the hurricane heading straight up Interstate 55, they kept going west.

Christine and Grandma are now in a shelter at LSU in Shreveport.

We’re working hard on Grandma to get her here!

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