ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

I Remember Maman

Updated on January 1, 2015
Left to right: Father LaForest; my mother, Odile Melchior; and my grandmother, Florina Grenier Melchior,
Left to right: Father LaForest; my mother, Odile Melchior; and my grandmother, Florina Grenier Melchior,

My first memory as a young child of my grandmother, Florina Grenier Melchior, is of her getting ready for the short walk to daily mass at 6:00 AM. She was quiet, but not somber, as she prepared her mind and heart to receive our Lord in Holy Communion.

She and my grandfather had come to live with us out of necessity. Now it seems providential.

My grandmother left her birthplace, Quebec City, in the province of Quebec, Canada, when she was fifteen years old to attend a Catholic boarding school in St. Louis, Mo. (During that time, her family moved to Joliet, Canada, which is called the “City of Churches”—referring to the fact that there was a church on every corner.)

A boarding school in those days was called a “finishing school.” This was to indicate that by the time a young girl left, her education was considered to have ended.

The students had regular classes which included English, Latin and French. French was required because for many years French was the international language. Latin was taught as preparation for daily mass. And in a school of that kind, everyone was expected to learn proper English.

Music was also a part of the curriculum. The students could learn the instrument of their choice but most chose the piano. Art was also taught and my grandmother produced several interesting drawings. She also painted a large portrait of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, which is striking in its emotional depth. It hangs in my living room today.

A certain time every day was spent learning to embroider and crochet. Both of these things were de rigeur for a young woman.

Upon graduation, my grandmother was sent to live with her uncle, Father Fabian LaForest, who was pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in the village of Carencro, LA. She became the church organist. She later married a young planter, George J. Melchior, and began life on his cotton farm near Carencro.

A Life of Service

One would think that someone of my grandmother’s background and education would have been aloof and detached from the things around her. Nothing could be farther from the truth. She helped establish the sodality for young people, which encouraged devotion to the Blessed Mother. She gave a communion breakfast each year for the graduating seniors at the local public high school.

During the typhoid epidemic, when many lives were lost, my grandmother visited every house on the farm to instruct the tenants how to stay healthy. She taught them to boil everything—dishes, clothes, sheets. The floors and walls were scrubbed with lye soap. As a result, no one on the farm became sick or died.

Later, things were not easy for my grandmother. She lost her first child, Yvonne, in infancy. She and my grandfather lost crops three years to the boll weevil. The bank which my grandfather helped establish failed. But the most devastating challenge to my grandmother’s faith came when their home burned and they lost everything.

All of these things occurred before my grandmother entered my young life. Looking back, it is remarkable that she never mentioned any of it. The Faith was the bedrock of her life. It was the foundation upon which she responded to the events of her life. It was the reason she was never bitter about any of it.

Kittens and Fairy Tales

Time with my grandmother was always entertaining. I spent hours on the arm of her chair listening to Hans Christian Andersen stories and other European fairy tales. She never tired of repeating the stories over and over again.

Once, when I found a baby kitten outside, she let me bring it into her room. She made a ball and tied it to a string of yarn, so the kitten could play with it and try to catch it.

Many nights I felt asleep listening to her read aloud to my grandfather. She read the works of American journalist Westbrook Pegler, the William F. Buckley of the day, along with other popular commentators.

She herself was a writer. She submitted poetry and essays to the local paper using a pen name, Kewena, which is a Native American tribe in the Michigan area. Her articles were reflections of local culture and provided a glimpse of life in the area.

A Living Memory

I hope I can be forgiven for taking these many years to recognize the heroic life to which my grandmother was called. I hope she is aware of my love and gratitude to her. When I am sitting in the dim light of morning mass, I feel my grandmother’s presence. I hear the rosary which we recited every night. I hear the prayers of St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Ignatius Loyola, and the Litany of the Blessed Mother. Holy Mary, Holy Mother of God...Mirror of Justice...Seat of Wisdom...Comforter of the Afflicted...Cause of Our Joy...The words of the Latin mass also remain with me: "Introibo ad altare Dei, ad Deum qui lætificat juventutem meam." (I will go up to the altar of God. To God who gives joy to my youth). All these things played a role in my formation.

My grandmother passed away many years ago, but her memory is vivid. In so many ways, she is still with me, and will remain.

I hope somehow she can be aware of this humble offering.

~Florina Roy Alexander, December, 2014, Shreveport, LA

© 2014 Flo Roy Alexander


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I absolutely loved your recollections of your grandmother! I am researching the carved pew ends at St. Peter's in Carencro and hope to supply the parishioners with an account of the people those pews represent. George Melchior and Florina Grenier Melchior are among those who purchased pew end carvings. I am currently trying to collect stories/pictures of 200 + families represented. I am so excited to read your account; it gives such depth and insight into the people who inhabited Carencro in its early days. Hope I can perhaps quote you in my little study. God bless for sharing these wonderful, heartwarming memories!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)