Sunday, February 25, 2007

I heard the news today, oh, boy...

Again, I have to thank the Beatles for a blog title, sort of (I read the news today, oh, boy...). And I did read the news--the obituary--but I heard it first.

The phone rang at 8:30 this morning. Normally, I don't pick up the phone until I hear who is on the line, but I was in the kitchen waiting for the coffee, so I checked the caller ID. My father's name appeared, so I figured my mother was calling me (my dad only calls in an emergency, usually late at night or when I'm in Austin).

I answered, "Hello?"

"I didn't wake you, did I?" My mother's voice.

"No, Mom. I'm just waiting for the coffee to brew. What's up?" I usually just cut to the chase.

"Oh, Kathy. Mr. Paul died yesterday." We chatted a bit about the cause and who was taking care of his one surviving brother and when the mass would be held. I promised to light a candle for him and say a prayer; we hung up after I said I'd stop by to see her on Monday.

"Mr. Paul" is Paul DeBroeck, and I've known him nearly all my life; he and his wife, Miss Mickey, were our surrogate uncle and aunt after we moved to Shreveport from New Orleans when I was seven. When we moved to north Louisiana, we left a large, loving group of relatives behind. The DeBroecks stepped in. Miss Mickey became my mother's best friend. She and her husband took care of us when my parents needed help, and I remember staying with them when my family went out of town--I was in college and couldn't take off.

I have never, and I do mean "never," met two more selfless people in my life. They did not have any children of their own, so every child was theirs. They devoted an extraordinary amount of their time to St. Catherine's Catholic Church in Cedar Grove. Miss Mickey (Her real name, I think, was Mary Michael because her dad expected a boy) wasn't Catholic, but she was just as involved in the church as her husband. They appeared to be two of the most contented, happiest people I've ever known. They were kind, helpful, funny people.

I remember the phone call I received when my son was just a baby. My dad called me Thanksgiving week--I want to say it was in 1981, but my memory is fuzzy--to tell me that Miss Mickey had been murdered, shot to death in their home at Wallace Lake. She and Mr. Paul were going out of town to visit their nieces and nephews. Mr. Paul came home from work and couldn't find her. Her car was gone, but the front storm door was unlocked--Miss Mickey never left her door unlocked out there, especially if she had to leave the house.

Mr. Paul looked all over the house for her; he called everyone he could think of, including my mother, because he thought Miss Mickey had gone into town. Finally, he saw a sheet draped over what he thought was something his wife wanted to take on their trip. When he lifted the sheet, he found her body. She had been shot point-blank in the heart; the bullet lodged in the concrete slab of the foundation.

When the police finally caught the guy who killed her, he was in Georgia. He had stolen her car and credit cards because he "just wanted to go home." If the guy had asked, she would have driven him to the bus station and purchased a ticket to take him wherever he wanted to go.

Mr. Paul survived any number of tragedies, always with a quiet dignity. His second wife, Clyde, slipped into Alzheimer's Disease a few years after they were married. Mr. Paul cared for her until her death. He cared for his brother Hubert until he passed away. I wonder if he felt like Paul Edgecomb in The Green Mile, that he was destined to outlive everyone he knew.

I never heard him complain; he never lamented. He lived his life with joy and humor. No matter what happened, people could count on him for anything at anytime. I hadn't seen him for several years, but whenever I did see him, he always had something kind to say to me.

In keeping with his giving nature, Mr. Paul donated his body to LSU Health Sciences Center for research.

If saints walk on this earth, I knew two of them. The second one died yesterday; I will say a prayer for him and to him.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

You may be a lover, but you ain't no dancer...

The Beatles provide me with many blog titles. I don't know that I really have anything to write that relates to the title of this blog, but that line from "Helter Skelter" came to mind after I watched the video about the Beatles' Apple Corps and their recently-settled lawsuit with Apple, Inc. According to what I heard, everybody wins, including Michael Jackson, who owns an interest in Sony, which owns the rights to a chunk of the Beatles' catalogue. According to the news story, this will make much of the Beatles' catalogue available on iTunes, and, thus, the consumer (that's me, obviously) will have greater access to it.

Well, that might be good news to others, but I already, pretty much, own a huge chunk of the Beatles' catalog. I started collecting the Beatles' albums when they first came out on vinyl, though my copies aren't worth much, since I played the hell out of them. But I did manage to replace my albums with cds, as soon as those were available, and I have a few of them loaded on my iPod. If I could point to the band that pretty much defines my life, I'd have to point to the Beatles.

When the Beatles first appeared on Ed Sullivan back in the day, I remember making everyone in my family be quiet so I could hear them. Of course, I couldn't hear the band because the young women in the audience were screaming too loudly. Sullivan had to shush them several times. It didn't help. The only thing I wanted for Christmas that year was their latest album and that's all that I received (big family, not much money). I didn't complain. My sisters did, though, because I played that album incessantly. They couldn't wait for me to get another Beatles' album so they could hear something different.

My feelings for the Beatles run deep; when my husband and I divorced, the only thing he did that angered me was to sell my copy of the White Album in a garage sale. I can forgive my ex everything but that! I managed to replace it (on cd), but that particular album is probably worth more now than he got for it. I might have been able to retire on it.

The Beatles and their music span nearly every decade of my life (except for the '5os--that decade belonged to Elvis). They didn't last as long as The Rolling Stones, but they sure did age better!

John Lennon died soon after my son was born in 1980. When I heard the news, I sat in a rocking chair, holding my son while I cried. George Harrison's death saddened me, too. His contribution to music, while not as familiar to most people as John and Paul's, is profound; he should be remembered for all of his work, but people who don't agree that "Here Comes the Sun" and "Something" are two of the most beautiful songs ever written are not my friends. The tribute concert, performed exactly one year to the day of his death, is one of the most moving concerts I've ever experienced. And his son, Dhani, could be Harrison's clone.

I'm hard pressed to think of one important point in my life where the Beatles don't figure in. I feel as though their music is part of my DNA. I don't care who owns what--legally. As far as I'm concerned, their music belongs to anyone who grew up with it.