How do you start over again 89 years of age?

You want to talk about guts, you want to talk about determination then you need to meet Eugene Milton Meyer, Sr. This simple yet extraordinary man loved two things dearly in his life. He loved them more then he ever loved himself.

Mr. Meyer loved his beautiful petite wife, Lilly more than he loved life itself. He also loved the family home he and Lilly built in Lakeview in the early 1960’s. We, his family and people who know him and that love him, thought that when his beautiful bride Lilly died – he would die too; but he didn’t. He wanted to, but he couldn’t – he was just too healthy. Then when he lost the other love of his life – his beautiful simple modest home in Lakeview that he worked so hard all of his life to pay for and maintain, we all thought for sure this might be the last straw. All of us who love him, saw this strong but fiercely loving man struggle with wanting to give up – throw in the towel and yet also wanting to rebuild. How do you rebuild something you loved so dearly? How do you replace the love of your life? He never replaced his beautiful Lilly – he never wanted to. He never really wanted to replace his beautiful little home in Lakeview – but he did. It was probably one of the hardest things this dear sweet man ever had to do in his life besides bury his beautiful Lilly. This dear sweet man was broken to his core when Lilly passed away. He couldn’t die even though he wanted to so. What he did instead - he built a loving tribute to her: a beautiful pink memorial mausoleum in Lakelawn Cemetery. He visited her everyday for years and still visits her several times a week. This is a man that when he loves you or he loves something – he doesn’t love you just a little bit – he loves you with everything he has. He loved Lilly with all of his heart and soul; he loved his home in Lakeview with all of his heart and soul.
Lilly Meyer
This is a loving tribute to one of the most remarkable men I have ever known in my life. No he is not Donald Trump or Obama - he is “Bubby” Meyer or “Grandpa Meyer to me. He is my son’s grandfather. I was married to his son. He had more influence on my life than my parents did – in many, many ways. This man is a quiet simple man who went to work everyday and worked 12, 16 and sometimes 24 hours a day at a power plant for NOPSI (New Orleans Public Service). He saved every penny, nickel, and dollar he could for years; he saved them one at a time and put them in savings accounts. Bubby and his beautiful bride, Lilly, grew up in the depression era and married shortly thereafter. Mr. Meyer served our nation very bravely in World War II – having to leave his bride at home as he had to serve our country thousands of miles away in a foreign land. He never wanted to leave the love of his life - but he did. Bubby NEVER thinks of himself as a hero; he NEVER considers the acts of his sacrifice during World War II as anything but the honorable thing any American would do. He gets very upset if anyone even implies he is hero – yet he is.

So after the War, Lilly and Bubby saved and saved; they lived very frugally. He worked long hard hours so they could build their “little” dream house in Lakeview in New Orleans. Both of these hardworking people grew up in New Orleans. They loved this city too, but they especially loved their Lakeview. Little by little, they saved and saved and eventually they had enough money to buy a lot in Lakeview and build their dream house. Everyone who knew the Meyer’s knew how much they loved their home. They maintained it meticulously. I don’t ever remember anyone ever walking on their hardwood floors with shoes. Up until the day that Katrina hit, the hardwood floors in their home that were almost 50 years old were as shiny as the day they were installed. The hardwood floors had the original varnish on them and they looked brand new.

The ceramic tiles in the kitchen and bathrooms that were so popular in the 60’s and in all homes in Lakeview, looked “brand” new. There was no soap scum or mildew in the grout of their tiles – no sir. They worked hard for that house; it took them long hard years to get that house. It took a lot of pennies, nickels, dimes and dollar bills to get that house. Bubby and Lilly took care of that house like they always took care of all the people and things they loved with the greatest care and concern. Bubby and Lilly were not saints but they probably come as close to any saints I’ll ever know. They were hardworking, simple people who love and loved with all their hearts. No one who ever met them could ever say one harsh word about them – not one. I have never heard any one ever say one unkind word about these two remarkable yet determined people.

After years of living and raising a family in their simple but modest home, the Meyer’s paid off the mortgage on their little castle. A few years later, Bubby retired from NOPSI and he and Lilly looked forward to spending many happy years in their comfortable cozy home. Unfortunately, fate had something else in store for this loving couple. Lilly would be taken to heaven only a few short years after Bubby’s retirement. Broken hearted and feeling defeated, Bubby found a way to continue on. He continued to live in the house that his beautiful Lilly maintained for him for so many years until another woman named Katrina had something in store for him.

On August 29, 2005, Katrina flooded Bubby and Lilly’s lovely Lakeview home. Flooded is not the word; Katrina destroyed the most tranquil place in New Orleans.

My grandson, Taylor, always said that to sleep at the Meyer’s home in Lakeview was like sleeping in heaven. This was true. It was so clean, so quiet, and so tranquil – just like them. When you entered their home (in your sock feet) you immediately felt safe and serene. You felt like you never wanted to leave. Katrina ended that.

I saw one of the most loving yet strongest men in my life struggle with issues of life and death as fate had handed him one more blow – one more blow that he just did not want to ever have to handle. For God’s sake – the man was 85 years old – what else do you want, God. He was faced with economic turmoil not to mention the loss of another one of his loves. All the pennies, nickels, dimes and dollars he saved – were now going to have to go to replace a home he never thought he’d ever had to rebuild. He struggled with wanting to die, hoping he would die so he wouldn’t have to rebuild. Yet, he didn’t die. So then he struggled with having to rebuild. How do you rebuild something you don’t want to rebuild? How do you rebuild something that you loved and lost and don’t want to replace? How do you “tear down” / “destroy” the love of your life? How do you do this when you are 85 years old? Bubby loved his home on 227 22nd Street – just about as much as he loved Lilly. After awhile everyone that knew Bubby, knew he loved that house because Lilly had been so much a part of it. To everyone who knew and loved Bubby, we all knew that Lilly and 227 22nd Street were synonymous – they were the two loves of Bubby Meyer’s life.

Somehow, someway, some place this fragile yet strong man found the courage to rebuild his life again. He was now 89 years old. What courage, what stamina – what strength. What a blessing this man is to all of us. He teaches us all everyday that no matter the obstacle – no matter how great the heartbreak – yes even if there is a struggle for life and death – choose life. It is hard – but “just do it”. He did it. Now mind you, everyone who knows Bubby, knows there were a lot of indecision, a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety, a lot of doubt – “Am I doing the right thing”? This fear and trepidation has not really ended in his mind. Yet, we who love him, admire him - in spite of his flaws. His greatest always shines through to us.

Bubby Meyer is one of my heroes. He has been the man I have admired the most in my whole my life - before any President, any spiritual or military leader. He is and has always been a simple, quiet man who has lived a quiet, honorable life. He loves deeply, even though he doesn’t always show it. He is a man of few words and he can be a puzzle at times. In all, he is a man, a human being who struggles and has struggled through some of the greatest tragedies in life and some of the greatest tragedies of our country – yet he succeeded in spite of it all. He was loved deeply by a quiet, shy and beautiful woman, Lilly. He is loved dearly by his son, his grandson, his great-grandchildren and his beautiful and strong sister, Jackie and her wonderful loving, loyal and supportive children, Judy and Jerry (Bubba) Burke. We are all so proud of him; we are so happy for him; we are so very happy that he has a new home. We will create new memories now but still remember the old Lakeview home. The old Lakeview home may be gone but it is not forgotten. We will always remember the love, the tranquility, the safety of 227 22nd Street; just like we will always remember and love Lilly and Bubby Meyer.
How do you start ALL OVER AGAIN at 89 years old?
The home that love built!

Mr. Eugene M. Meyer, Sr. - my hero with my very handsome and smart grandson, Taylor Meyer

No comments: