Picture on the wall brings back memories

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 3, 2008

By Kevin Chiri

I have been doing some home improvements a little at a time in the recent weeks.

I used to spend a lot of time redoing my front lawn landscaping each spring, but I must admit I’ve gotten a little lazier now and don’t worry quite so much about that.

But the wife and I did agree a while back that it was time to begin working on painting three bedrooms in the house.

I built a new house in Garyville so that I could move here four years ago with my family. It’s a four-bedroom house since I have four kids—perfect, right?

Of course each of the kids had the say in what kind of colors we would use for their bedrooms, so you can guess that they came out pretty crazy. Mikey, my 12-year-old son, picked blue for his room, my at-the-time 17-year-old daughter Vicky picked green for her room, and Jenny picked pink for her room.

But as the last few years have gone along, the kids have started to leave and we’re down to Mikey being the full-timer at the house. He is hanging onto his blue room, but it’s about a week or so away from getting redone.

As for the other two rooms, I’m finally figuring out how to do something actually different than the eggshell white colors, and both the wife and I love it. I’m using a slightly dark brownish color on a couple of walls, then a light beige on the other two, or something like that.

I finished the second room last weekend and I must say it is very nice. Just gives me a whole different feel to the room, since this one happens to be my sports-watching room, at least as long as we don’t have kids bringing grandkids to stay with us. I just happen to have a baby crib on my right, as I sit in my rocker and watch my ball games.

My wife hung a picture on the wall of my three girls. It was one of those Olan Mills professional shots where they are in their perfect little dresses, with their hair all fixed just right. Even though the picture is staged, I’m finding myself somewhat drawn to it more and more when I head into the room to sit in my rocker.

The girls are much younger, say about 10, 8 and 6. Little girls, sweet looks on their faces. And I find myself staring at the picture now, just looking at them.

I’m not an outwardly emotional guy, and it’s sort of a joke in the family how Kevin doesn’t ever show enough emotion at Christmas, or his birthday, or for Father’s Day. But nonetheless, it’s just me. However I am finding a feeling of emotion that is welling up inside me as I keep looking at the picture.

There are my girls. So sweet, such wonderful girls. I couldn’t describe the feeling of love I have for them, it is so great. But now they are grown. My mind wanders as I look at that picture.

Chrissy is 24 and just was named managing editor for an Arkansas newspaper. She and her husband Jerry will be moving within weeks, taking our first grandson Jerry Scott III up north, but fortunately only about six hours away so we can visit without too much trouble.

Jenny is now 22, married to an Army man, with my loveable little granddaughter Abby who is now two. Jenny is pregnant and another baby is coming.

Then there is little Vicky, 20, who is going to college in Tennessee and seemingly so far away that I worry a lot more about her. She is outgoing and always busy, but when she answers the phone I still say, “Hello Baby Girl.”

Yes, the girls are grown and moving on with their lives. And they are doing well, so the wife and I couldn’t be happier. But still I look at that picture and I remember when they were little. Oh what a busy, noisy and wonderful home we had.

Chrissy was always the leader of everything, organized, neat as a pin and wanting to do things. She had projects, things she was always working on, even as a young girl. You could tell she was going somewhere in her life and by golly, she certainly has.

She was just named managing editor at a twice-a-week Arkansas paper, and she is only 24. I realize most people might not comprehend how amazing it is to be 24 and already be the editor of a paper, but believe me, it is rare. However it is not surprising to me, nor will it be difficult for her….she is that good at what she does.

OK, maybe she got a good start from the old man, working as my Lifestyle Editor when she was 14 in Slidell, so yea, I guess I helped her get started. But since college, she has done it on her own and she deserves this rapid rise she is in the midst of.

Jenny is just like my wife—exactly. She wanted to be a homemaker, have babies and just be the good wife. Thankfully that is what she is doing, so she also is happy.

Her husband will be getting transferred to Fort Eustis in Virginia later this year, so that’s a bummer since they will definitely be farther away than we would like. But even when I look at Jenny in my picture, I know my girl is happy now, so it’s all good. And one way or another, you can be sure I will see her.

Then there is Vicky. Man, what can I say about that girl? She is busy as a bee in Tennessee, intent on making it in the business side of the music business. She has already made tons of connections with bands, their managers, their back stage people. She has worked concerts, and even had an internship at Michael W. Smith’s Rocket Town youth center for a semester.

Nothing will stop Vicky and we just wonder where she will end up.

But suddenly my mind snaps, and I look at the picture again.

Yes, they are grown now and yes they are gone. It hurts a little. It never used to, but now I miss them. They were such sweet little girls and now they are grown.

 I wonder if they will always want to check on mom and dad, and help us when we get older. I look at the picture and just wonder.

Kevin Chiri is Publisher of L’Observateur and can be reached at (985) 652-9545 or at kchiri@bellsouth.net