Saturday, November 14, 2015

This is tragedy ... this is heartache

Amy, about 4, with Miss Rose.
     Oh, Amy, we loved you so.
     Amy was the little girl who lived across the street from my parents' home. We knew her all her life.
      When our Jason -- at ages 3, 4, 5 -- came to visit with his new Oma Rose and Opa Louis, one of his favorite things to do was go play with Amy. They were the same age.
      They were a matched pair, both blond(e) and sweet and cute, two kids playing in the driveway or the garage. Loretta and Lynn Geneux, Amy's parents, were as proud of her as we were of Jason. My parents thought of Amy as practically another grandchild. 
      The Geneuxs lived on Schaub Drive in Shreveport for Amy's first decade (brother Emile came next, and sister Amanda followed). Lynn Geneux became our family attorney and, with Loretta, were my parents' "protectors" as they aged.
      Many people took care of Rose and Louis, but few as much and as consistently as Lynn and Loretta, even after they moved to another nearby neighborhood. If there was a Van Thyn family function, the Geneuxs were there. They were loyal.
      We thought about that Thursday, one of those days -- one of those phone calls -- that devastates you.
      We were getting ready to go exercise at the downtown YMCA when my phone rang at 9:47 a.m., and Lynn Geneux got right to the point.
      "We wanted to let you know that Amy died yesterday [Wednesday] morning," he said, hesitating. 
      What do you say to that?
The Keck family in summertime: Amy, William, Audrey, Jim
      He then told me a little of the circumstances. Amy Geneux Keck, age 41, wife of Jim (married for seven-plus years) and mother of 6-year-old twins Audrey and William, was nine months pregnant and at home in Houston when she began to feel labor pains. She was having trouble breathing.
      She told Audrey to call Nonnie and Papa in Shreveport. Audrey did and told them Mama was having the baby -- due near Thanksgiving -- and they better hurry to Houston. She then yelled at William to call 911.
      It was Amy who called 911. The medics arrived, and Amy got herself on the gurney. But, it is thought, she stopped breathing by the time they took her out of the house. They tried to revive her on the way to a nearby hospital, but ... no.
      The baby also died.
      Adeline Claire Keck, Geneux grandchild No. 8, never had a chance. 
      When I told Bea, her first response -- after sobs -- was that "you don't expect that to happen in today's world."
      As Lynn told me in a later conversation -- after I asked permission to write this blog piece -- the cause might have been a pulmonary embolism (blood clot). They are awaiting autopsy results.
       There had been no warning signs, not in a doctor's visit Monday. Some back pain Tuesday, but it all looked good. And then ...
      Lynn Geneux was in the Jesuit High School Class of '64, not an athlete -- not
All the Geneux/Keck/Ericson family; that's Jim and Amy, far left
even that much of a sports fan -- but one of the excellent students for which that school is known. He has been wise counsel in so many matters as our attorney; as a caring person, my parents believed so much in him.

      When Dad had so much trouble with French attorneys and the government trying to settle his first cousin's estate -- Dad was the heir -- Lynn worked hours, days, months, a couple of years on the case. Not sure he ever charged Dad for any work; if he did, it was a cute-rate bargain.
      Loretta Gates Geneux, like Bea, was a country girl who came to live in the city. She was from Coushatta, La. -- Bea's mother's hometown -- and, for you baseball fans, a cousin of the famed Joe Adcock.
      She has her country twang, a delightful, upbeat person who is sneakily funny. She doted over her children -- and Miss Rose -- and she's the best Nonnie anyone could ever be.
      We have known so many great people, and the Geneuxs are right there.
      Lynn reminded me that Loretta was nine months pregnant when, after a weeks-long search, they found the house for sale on Schaub Drive. They signed the papers on July 1, 1974, moved in on July 5, and Amy was born July 10. Welcome home.
      Our Jason was 4 months older. They each started school the same year, graduated high school the same year (1992) and attended LSU (separate locations) at the same time. They each married the same year, each a few years into their 30s, had children the same year.
      Amy became a teacher, first in Shreveport and then in Houston, where she moved because it was Jim's hometown and he had a job as a chemical engineer. She taught in middle school (social studies) and elementary school.
      To be honest, we were not that close to Amy after they moved from Schaub Drive. But to look at her Facebook page now, and the many, many posts from longtime friends and her students, she was so much like her parents -- just as sweet and kind (and funny) as we remember her as a little girl. As a teacher, she obviously was dedicated and diligent.
      But mostly, she was about family. The Geneuxs are about family.
      Amy and Jim's twins are the oldest grandchildren and the first of two sets of twins; Dr. Emile, a dentist in Shreveport, and wife Dr. Beth, an OB-GYN, have twin daughters, and two younger daughters. Amanda (and Jeff) have a daughter and grandchild No. 9, a boy, due in February. 
      It is a loving, tight-knit group, and we admire them. On Loretta and Amy's Facebook pages, there are so many wonderful family photos -- many taken by Jim, who is a skilled photographer (side business) -- and so many neat posts. 
      They've had their challenges, serious health issues with two of the grandkids, and other difficulties. But they were patient and persevered.
      And now this. Our hearts ache for all the Geneuxs, especially for Jim, Audrey and William with the loss of their wife and mother.
Our little Amy, with baby Emile
      Their grief is profound and, no comparison, but for us, the rest of Thursday was full of tears and remembrances. There was no trip downtown -- too much emotion -- just long walks for each of us.
       Amy and the family was about all I could think about. It is difficult to fathom such a life ending so tragically.                        
       "She was a good mother," Lynn said of his oldest daughter, his and Loretta's first baby. "She lived for her children and for her family. She was good to them, she was good to Emile and Amanda, and their kids.
       "It is not supposed to be this way," he said, choking up at the thought (but not as choked up as the person he was talking with). "But it is."  
       Amy, the beautiful little girl who lived across the street.
        The Geneux family posted these visitation/funeral arrangements:
        Sunday: visitation, 5-8 p.m., Klein Funeral Home, Cypress-Fairbanks, 9719 Wortham Blvd., Houston, TX 77065
        Monday: Mass, 4:15 p.m., St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church, 10135 West road, Houston, TX 77064
        Tuesday: Visitation, 5-8 p.m., Rose Neath funeral home, 1815 Marshall St., Shreveport, LA 71101
        Wednesday: Mass, 1 p.m., St. Joseph's Catholic Church, 211 Atlantic Ave. 71105, burial to follow at Holly Springs cemetery near Coushatta, LA



  1. So very sad. I like to think Amy and her baby are somewhere together being welcomed by Ro and Louie.

  2. Thank you for your loving and kind words about Amy and her family. You had a perfect description ---Lynn and I grew up next door to each other as "only children." We met in 1952 and have shared many sad and glad times---I appreciate your story so much. Words just escape me right now.

  3. From Lynn Geneux: Thank you so much. I have read it over and over again. It was a wonderful tribute for a wonderful daughter, mother and wife but particularly a mother. We will miss her deeply.

  4. From Loretta Geneux: It was beautiful and written to perfection. We appreciate your words and kindness so very much. Miss Ro is enjoying seeing them.

  5. From Jim Keck: Thank you for the wonderful article about Amy. It means a lot. I will certainly show this to the twins when they are older.

  6. From Beth Harvey Geneux: Thank you. Beautifully written. They will love reading this over and over.

  7. From Pamela Summerlin: Your blog on Amy was so perfect a tribute. I didn't know her, but here's a strange coincidence. The day Amy died, my daughter's best friend was at Willis-Knighton Pierremont about to deliver her first baby. Her doctor (Beth Geneux) was called away for a family emergency. Unusual for her to leave, given that the patient has seizures, was pre-eclamptic, delivering early, and an older first-time mom. We knew it had to be a dire emergency. Here's the rest of the story ... the patient's brother is an OB/GYN in Houston, and Amy was his patient.
    I am so sorry for the loss of your family friend.

  8. From Elsa Van Thyn: Something I remembered about Amy -- when she got married, she had Mama and Daddy (Rose and Louis) walk down the aisle as honorary grandparents. Your blog was so moving.

  9. From Cullen Conly: What an awesome read about an awesome woman, and her amazing family. They have quite the bond. Most families wish they could have the "family dynamics" that the Geneuxs have. Please everyone, keep Lynn, Loretta, Emile, Beth, the twins X2 and the lil "Irish" twins, Amanda, Jeff, and Amelia and obviously Jim Keck in your thoughts. Such a tragic loss. We will miss you, Amy, sooo much.

  10. From Connie Emmons: So sad. But it sounds like she is with her Heavenly Father. May God's peace be with her family.

  11. From Laura Beeman Nugent: I had the pleasure of directing sweet William and Audrey this summer during Cinderella at SLTA. Amanda is also a friend of mine. Amy was a constant presence, always there to help in any way possible and sometimes just being a positive influence, helping with the children. William and Audrey were also working on Aladdin Jr. and as always, Amy was there to help. Hearing about Amy on Wednesday morning, my breath immediately caught in my throat and I choked back tears of sorrow. While my time getting to know Amy was very short, it was quite evident why she was so loved by so many people. Her light might be extinguished on Earth, but that light will continue to shine in her precious twins and in the way she treated people. She was a beautiful example of the type of person we should all strive to be. Many prayers and thoughts of peace and love to Loretta, Amanda, and the Geneux, Keck, and Ericson families.

  12. Cheryl Weatherholt: This is so sad. Your words were beautiful and a great tribute to the kind of person she was. Prayers for her friends and family. May she rest in peace.

  13. From T-Willie Moore: Thanks for the sweet blog on Amy. I taught with her at Caddo Middle Magnet. She was a sweetheart. We all loved her. So sad. Praying for her family.

  14. From Kathy Miller Regan: I learned of this tragedy last night when reading this blog. I can't describe how sorry I am and will have you all in my prayers. With love.

  15. From Brenda Morgan Wilson: So very sad. Emile is my dentist. He is a great dentist and so caring. Now I have a glimpse as to why. Will be praying for them all.

  16. From Jerie Shirley Black: Such a lovely tribute to this family. This is so tragic. I knew them only in passing. Bless them.

  17. From Dee Bustillo: Thank you for posting this lovely tribute to Amy. James and I are heartbroken for Loretta and Lynn.

  18. From Bob Tompkins: Thanks for writing this difficult blog. Beautifully written. I don’t know -- or didn’t know -- the girl across the street, but now I feel as if I do know her because of your blog.
    And I am devastated for the family and for you and yours. As a Catholic, I believe in life after death for anyone of any faith who lived according to a well-formed conscience and basically followed the Golden Rule. Judging from your piece, that was the case with Amy, and obviously the baby was pure as freshly fallen snow.
    They are, I trust, in paradise.

  19. From Beverly Denver: I so wish there was something I could do down here (Houston) for this family. This is so very tragic. I don't have any idea how anyone could possibly deal with this.

  20. From Leon Barmore: This story on Amy touches us all. So sad.

  21. From Sandi Tison Atkinson: Very sorry to hear about this loss in your life, but your blog painted a story of such a beautiful spirit. May she rest in peace with her unborn child.
    There is so much sadness in the world this Saturday, but this one is personal for you. I am profoundly sorry.

  22. From Sylvia Pesek: Oh, that's heartbreaking, and as Bea said, it's just utterly unexpected in today's world, but a reminder that we never, ever know what this world holds for any of us as we march inexorably forward in the Mortality Parade.
    My heart goes out to Amy's family, and to her friends, and to her students, and to all those who have had someone so obviously special and precious ripped from their life.
    For those of us who are parents, the most unthinkable thing, the thing from which our mind recoils as if from a searingly hot iron, the thing we most dread ... the thing we're almost certain we could not endure or survive ... is the loss of a child. Grief is too small a word.
    Thanks for sharing this, and to her family for letting you do so. It's a reminder to all of us to hold each other just that much closer, and to never, ever take each other for granted.
    To Life!

  23. From Kirby Ramsey: I am so sorry to learn of this tragic event. I will keep this young lady and her family and friends in my thoughts and prayers.
    This sounds so similar to what happened to one of my students at University of Louisiana-Monroe. She was about 24 and was expecting. She and her husband had moved to Baton Rouge and she was within a short time of delivering her first child when she had a pulmonary embolism.
    At that point in my life I was not aware that a pulmonary embolism can be that dangerous. It surely can be. She also passed away. When I heard about it, I was devastated. Her name was Shirley, but I do not remember her married name. Also, a truly wonderful young lady who should be enjoying a life with her family and friends.
    Thoughts and prayers for your family and for Amy and her family.

  24. From Bob Basinger: Sorry about the loss of your friend. Amy sounds like a very special person.
    Life is very fragile.

  25. From Tommy Canterbury: That was a wonderful piece. Feel like I know the family. I know their love for y'all is every bit the same.

  26. From Roger Braniff Sr.: We saw the obit in our morning paper for your "young" friend Amy. What a beautiful young lady she is. As you wrote in your blog, this stuff is not supposed to happen in today's world with the medical technology available.
    Can not imagine how this family, husband and children can reel in from such a shock, and to know it was two, not just one. Only the Lord knows why, and only He can comfort them in time.
    A wonderful tribute and honor that you gave them in your blog. Thanks for sharing; makes up stop and appreciate what we have a little more.

  27. From Janet Glaspie: I read with a heavy heart about our neighbors, the Geneuxs (once a neighbor, always a neighbor). Lynn was a gentleman attorney, for sure -- and those are so rare! Loretta, too -- a gem of a human being. I did not know their children so well, but I do recall that their son (I think) won an essay contest, thanks to his listening to Rose, and he read his essay at a Holocaust Memorial service. That might be the last time I saw Lynn and Loretta before I moved to Florida. Anyway, the tragedy their family has suffered is unimaginable to me. My heart goes out to everyone who has been touched by this amazing family, as we all feel the loss.