18 Jan

Michaela and I drove from New Orleans to Mississippi on Saturday to celebrate my paternal grandfather’s second wife’s 90th birthday. (In the south, they call that “kin.”) The road was SO FOGGY. So foggy, I couldn’t see anything on either side of the bridges were drove on. So foggy, I got a hand cramp from clutching the steering wheel. So foggy, I didn’t take a picture!

Jackson is about three hours from New Orleans, so we had plenty of time in the car. We stopped at a Waffle House – a tradition when we’re in states that have that chain – and at a visitors’ center at the Louisiana-Mississippi border.



From there, it was straight to the church where the celebration was held.

Henrietta, the birthday girl, was thrilled to see us. I haven’t seen her in a few years– she came out to California when Michaela was 3, so it’s been three or four years– and she looks just as fabulous as ever. Henrietta is a beautician by trade and a milliner (hat maker); she always looks what my mom would call “shit sharp.” She was rocking three inch heeled booties, a Louis Vuitton bag, a cream colored suit, and a fancy hat she made herself.



Seriously– how gorgeous is she? This woman is NINETY years old!

The celebration featured speakers from various aspects of Henrietta’s life. She was the first African American to be appointed to the Mississippi State Board of Cosmetology (in 1977. Remember that next time someone tells you institutional racism was oh-so-long ago.), so there were people from that industry. She was the founder of a civic and social club, so she was feted by the club’s current president. Her niece┬áPamela did a “This is Your Life” tribute that was lovely. Henrietta is a woman of deep, strong faith, so there was also a strong religious current throughout, with several songs and blessings.

Michaela was kind of bored because it was a lot of sitting and listening, but I am glad she went. It’s an important cultural experience in addition to being a family event.

When the event was over, we went back to Pamela’s beautiful home to relax and unwind. I can’t say enough about our hosts. Pamela, her husband Fred, their daughter Gabrielle are so kind and were so generous. Pamela’s brother, who lives in Texas, also stayed, so we had a grand time hanging out.




The next morning, we had breakfast together and then Michaela and I headed to the cemetery where my grandfather is buried.


With that, it was time to drive back to New Orleans. We had to get our rental car back at an absurdly early time (that’s what happens when you rent from an in-town satellite location, not the airport center), but the good news was, we stopped at Sonic on the way back and there was no fog I could actually see while driving! It was cool to drive over Lake Ponchartrain and see swampland on either side of the road.

Back in New Orleans, we headed to our second hotel, which was on Bourbon Street. Fun fact: Bourbon Street is NOT kid-friendly. It was all drunk people, cabarets, bars, smoking, and vomit on the streets. Maybe it would have been fun in my 20s, but now, with a 7-year-old, it was mostly scary! Still, our hotel was really nice and we were upgraded to a room with an internal verandah, so we could throw open the doors to get air while facing the pool, not the street. That was our last night in town, so we laid pretty low. It was perfect!


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