A surprise for an old friend underscores the value of life

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 1, 2008

By Harold Keller

The name Leroy Labat may be foreign to people who are unfamiliar with the history of River Parish or LSU football.  The Labat Legacy, however, is still the subject of football fans around my age when the season rolls around.  

During the late 1940s at Leon Godchaux High School and in the early 1950s at LSU, the name, Leroy Labat, was the topic of discussion, not only in the River Parishes, but throughout Louisiana.

Since both of us have a passion for politics, we’ve shared some interesting times together over the years.  

Leroy lived life as he played the game of football – with a positive attitude and a desire to enjoy life to the fullest.  His wife, Janice, of 50 years, passed away six years ago.  His health has deteriorated in recent years, but his strong desire to keep active has never declined.  We have kept in contact and, on occasion, go out for lunch.

Two weeks ago, I called my friend and asked how he was doing.  “Since Janice died,” he said, “I’ve lost a little of my excitement for life.  I also have a lot of pain in my legs and back.”  I asked him, “How old are you, Leroy?’  “On July 30th, I’ll be 78,” was his reply.  I then said, “On your birthday, Judge Tom Daley (his friend) and I will take you to the Cornerstone Restaurant to celebrate.”  “That would be great!” was his reply.  

It was then that I thought it would be good to invite some of his old football teammates and some players from Destrehan and Lutcher that he played against.  I made some calls and invited about 20 people with the instruction that it was to be a surprise.

On Wednesday, July 30, 19 men showed up and as he arrived, surprised my good friend.  It was a great time of fellowship and doing what was written on the cake: “Thanks for the Memories.”  When I brought him home, he said, “This was one of the nicest days in my life.”  

Later that day, I was thinking of how short this life is.  The Bible says that life is but a vapor – here one minute and gone the next.  

The people that God puts in our path on our journey toward eternity are a blessing.  I cherish my relationship with Leroy and am reminded that all the honors we receive on earth will fade away.  When our life ends, the only thing that will matter is if we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior.          

If you have any questions, or comments, please write to Get High on Life, P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084, call (985) 652-8477, or e-mail: hkeller@comcast.net