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Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 1999


  Wash. Post


  Opinions Letters to the Editor Editorials Columns

Get high on life

Harold Keller / L’Observateur / September 1, 1999

The Bible says that God knew each one of us even before we were in our mother’s womb. It also says that He has an exciting, perfect plan for ourlives.

Last week, I attended the funeral of Mr. Joseph J. Babin of Lutcher. He was92 years of age. He is survived by his wife, the former Inez Bourgeois, andthey would have celebrated 70 years of marriage on Oct. 3. They had eightchildren – five girls and three boys. One daughter and two sons precededhim in death. He leaves behind 19 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren. I didn’t know Mr. Babin, but I knew some of his family.What makes the death of a 92-year-old man so newsworthy? It really isn’t his death, but his journey through life that amazes me.

Saturday morning, at the mayor’s prayer breakfast in Lutcher, I was seated next to my friend, Jay Richard, a son-in-law of Mr. Babin. I againexpressed by sympathy and we got to talking about Mr. Joe. Jay sharedwith me that Mr. Joe came to St. James Parish in 1908 on an orphan trainfrom New York. Paul and Estelle Babin wanted to adopt a boy and waitedpatiently for their request to be granted. Then they received word from anorphanage in New York that an 18-month-old boy would be on the train when it passed through Lutcher. Mr. and Mrs. Babin met their adopted sonwho had no name, but only a tag with Mr. and Mrs. Paul Babin’s name on itand the date of the boy’s birth, which was Feb. 3, 1907. The Babins namedthe young boy Joseph J. Babin.I spoke to one of his daughters, Betty, and she said that her daddy was a good daddy – different, had a great sense of humor, was a good provider and, basically, was happy, except when he worked the 12-8 shift at Shell Chemical and the kids were noisy and woke him up.

The family has tried to trace his roots, but were unsuccessful. The NewYork orphanage had been destroyed by fire, and most of the records were gone. The closest they came to identifying him was that, maybe, his namewas Joe Jonato, but no one was certain.

I was fascinated with the story of Mr. Joe. No one ever knew his real name,but a loving, Heavenly father knew him before he was in his mother’s womb and his life is living proof that God has an exciting, perfect plan for each of us.

Harold Keller is a regular columnist for L’Observateur.

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