The Right Thing

“I hate the right thing to do…” 

…grumbled my young cousin, her back to me as she descended the stairs.  This was several years ago in New Orleans, and I had just pushed her towards something that seemed terribly important at the time.  Her reaction to my vague reasoning reverberates like my own adolescent reaction to my mother’s frequent rebuttal, “…because I said so.”

Yet I lectured myself with the same words in recent weeks, as I postponed indefinitely a long-anticipated book tour.
George Rodrigue endures unpredictable side effects from his medications.  Like many who fight such diseases, even with successful treatment, he has good days and bad, defined lately by an overall lack of stamina.  For now, this precludes any travel.  However, this too shall pass, beginning with, I have no doubt, a return to his easel, a comfort zone he misses, and a place he’s sat only once, briefly, in the past few months.
-pictured, George’s studio, photographed this morning, Carmel, CA; click photo to enlarge-

“You’re not alone in this…” 

…people keep telling me, as though I too am suffering.
I know that!  I’ve always known that!  George and I have never doubted our strong support system of family, friends and community.  It’s true, however, that with the exception of a brief outing during the Carmel Art and Film Festival, he prefers, for now anyway, home and all the things that come with it —the view, the owls, football, and foot rubs— over the public life.

Yet he continues to impact friends and strangers not only with his artwork, but also with a presence that resonates beyond this Carmel Valley mountain, through Cajun stories and project-planning and an unwavering concern for others.

“You have to celebrate your book…” 

…insists George, even as he knows deep down that, for me, it’s not the right thing to do.  And so I postpone events, successfully halting his protests with a firm and familiar because I said so.
(pictured, all proceeds from The Other Side of the Painting, a memoir recently published by UL Press and based on this blog, benefit the arts in education programs of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts; learn more here; and read a review from The Lafayette Advertiser here-)
To those of you who organized signings and readings, thank you.  Some of you did this several times, moving dates without complaint, only to have me cancel again.  To those of you who marked your calendars to attend these events, thank you.  And to both the hosts and guests, from the bottom of my heart, I apologize for not coming through.
George and I still do hope to make a few things.  The Ogden’s O What a Night!, for example, when George is to receive the museum’s prestigious Opus Award, remains on our calendar, as does the Musical Tribute to George Rodrigue in Destin, Florida.  Up to the last minute, we hope to attend these special events and, as a back-up, George’s sons, André and Jacques, stand by to fill in for their dad, expressing his gratitude for these honors.
(pictured, George Rodrigue with sons Jacques and Andre, Carmel, California, October 2013)
Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, Louisiana Capitol Park, Baton Rouge

11:00 a.m. – Exhibit chat with curator Marney Robinson, showcasing a special exhibition of photographs and original artwork from the George Rodrigue private archives, State Library Foyer-
12:00 p.m. – Cooking demo with the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, featuring The Pot & the Palette:  100 recipes by Louisiana’s greatest restaurants with artwork by Louisiana’s most talented student artists
This irresistible cookbook, with a Foreword by Chef Emeril Lagasse, spotlights finalists from this year’s Scholarship Art Contest, a partnership between the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts and the Louisiana Restaurant Association.  Learn more and pre-order at this link
Back to feeling alone…
The only time I feel alone, honestly, is when I leave George for even the smallest errands.  The grocery store, the post office, a pharmacy run.  Those are lonely, empty and, fortunately, temporary places, always complicated by the right thing to do.

“You have a beautiful smile…” 

…noted a kind Rodrigue fan last week, one of fifty or so patient, flexible folks who turned out for Coffee & Conversation at the Jefferson Parish Library in Metairie/New Orleans, where we visited on a facetime screen rather than in person.
The compliment meant a great deal to me, not only because I share our mother’s smile with my sister, but also because deep down I worry and, occasionally, panic, as we humans do in such situations.  However, deeper down, the reality is that I’m incredibly happy.  You see, I am never alone… 
…because I have George.  And by God, that’s worth smiling about.


-pictured above, Rodrigue Studio, Carmel, California, October 2013-
-for more art and discussion, please join me on facebook

7 thoughts on “The Right Thing

  1. Oh my dear friend you hit the nail on the head! That is my life too. And we are both very blessed that we are not alone. I look forward to seeing you when the time is right. Until then know that love and prayers are sent your way often.

  2. Continue to do the right thing. George is #1–all those other folks will be there later, when the time is right. Love and prayers to you and GR.

  3. My prayers an thoughts are with George Rodrigue, as I write this comment. He and I are first cousins, and as far as I know, have never met. Unless we did when we were very little. I was introduced to Blue Dog many years ago through my uncle Cyrus Rodrigue. I feel a kinship to George, an pray God gives him strength an healthy days ahead. Your cousin,
    Elaine Landry

  4. George, a prayer to Ste. Antoine to always find the strength you need to keep on doing what you love.

  5. Many thanks, everyone, for these thoughtful and sincere comments and well-wishes. I've shared every word with George, and we are both deeply touched. The very best to you and yours, always-

  6. It is sad that you and George had to miss the Opus award ceremonies, but as he suffers you as his soulmate suffer also in your own way and for him,too. May God bless you both in these dark, valley days, and may you two know many more victorious mountain top days filled with experiencing how much you are loved and appreciated for all you have done for others. Blessings,

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