It’s been many years now since I sat down to write a Thanksgiving column and realized that it was my family that meant the most to me at this time of counting your blessings.
Since then I’ve been mentioning my spouse, kids, grandkids, great-grandkids, brother, nephews, etc., mostly to remind myself how well they’re doing and how lucky I am to be kin to them.
It’s the one day a year I write about my family, and I’ve been surprised that some people tell me they enjoy hearing about these folks, even though they don’t know them in person.
Anyhow, here goes:
My wife Katherine, aka Lady Katherine, continues her work with people with mental illnesses, using her talent as an artist to help them find their own talents and new ways to express the up and downs of their lives. She inspires me daily.
Tammy and Boyce
The big news in the Anders family this year has been the move of daughter Tammy and husband Boyce from Zachary to Long Beach, Mississippi. (Can you say “beach bums”?). She’s still doing medical coding for Ochsner, while Boyce, a retired fire chief, has retired again, this time from the industrial safety field. But I think their ultimate goal is to live the kind of life Jimmy Buffett sings about.
Tommy and Nicole
Son Tommy (aka Pokey) and wife Nicole also moved, a little further out from Zachary, where they are enjoying the country life (and raising chickens!). A retired deputy fire chief, he’s safety directory at the Lane medical center, while she’s a popular hairdresser.
Granddaughters and more
Granddaughter Katie and husband Glen are still in Lafayette, where she’s in insurance (like a good neighbor) and he’s in the offshore oil supply field.
Their children, my great-grandchildren (!) are Ethan, 7, and Emma Claire, 4.
Granddaughter Mandy and husband Corey live in Diamondhead, Mississippi, but both work as nurses in a Slidell hospital. With three children under 5 — Leah, Macy and little Noah — you could say they’re a bit busy.
Granddaughter Tayler and husband Adam are still in Zachary, where she’s a radiology tech at Lane and he’s a firefighter in both Baton Rouge and Zachary. Their son, little Austin, will celebrate his first birthday this week.
Grandson Ron is in his senior year at Louisiana College in Pineville, where he’s a pitcher on the baseball team. He spent his summer playing for the Casper, Wyoming, Cutthroats (named for trout, not criminals).
Grandson Clint spent his summer at the LSU fire training school, becoming a firefighter. He now serves the Zachary Fire Department in the footsteps of his dad, uncle and brother-in-law.
Brother and family
Brother Louis is still selling Kubota equipment in Oakdale, and spending his off days tooling around on his Harley or in his Corvette. Sister-in-law Jane, a retired high school guidance counselor, has become a Master Gardener — and loves it.
Their son Judd is a physician in Reno, Nevada, and he and wife Stacy are staying busy keeping up with twin boys Jakob and Justin.
Nephew Jason is an attorney working in New Orleans and living in Metairie with wife Marian, also an attorney, and sons Jackson and Colin.
Nephew Josh is in the oil “bidness” in Houston, and he and wife Melissa, a nurse, have the only little girl in my brother’s family, Vanessa.
Valeri and family
Katherine’s sister Valeri is in the tourism promotion business, and has worked with several states and cities. But her heart is in her beloved New Orleans where she’s been heavily involved in the recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina. And her French Quarter apartment is a handy gathering place.
Val’s son Wil and wife Jen live in the Detroit suburbs with little Arabella. He’s a computer guru with Sears. And on Tuesday, they welcomed little Aliana into the world. Quite a Thanksgiving present. .
Younger son Wes, wife Michelle, and their daughter Nola, live in Chicago, where he’s with an international planning firm and she’s a dental hygienist.
Grandson Landon would have been 21 this year.
Before spina bifida took him from us at 15, he was making plans for the kind of car he wanted — one with hand controls and a special door so he could get his folding wheelchair in and out easily.
He wasn’t going to let anything slow him down, and he stayed active until the very end of his young life.
I’m thankful for the success and happiness of all the members of my family and Katherine’s family, and thankful that we had 15 years with Landon.
I’ve got a lot to be thankful for — good people in my life, including a wife who puts up with my hectic life, a job I love, and more or less good health.
Oh, and by the way, I’m thankful for the many people who write this column for me — every day but today.
Write Smiley at Smiley@theadvocate.com. He can also be reached by fax at (225) 388-0351 or mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.