My family and I might never have met our beloved neighbor Cindy because we never intended to live on S Liberty St; it just sort of happened. One day in 2006 while slinging lattes down at my then day job I took a phone call from some one seeking to sell a piece of property. After my shift ended I pedaled over to examine the wreck of a double that would become my future home. Initially my wife and I decided to purchase the careworn home as an investment and rent it out. But after starting the work and getting to know the neighbors, we paused and shifted our focus. This was the house and these were the people we wanted to raise our kids around. And when Cindy and her husband Bob arrived a year later moving in to the white single story across the street, they could not have been a better fit. Earlier this month and quite unexpectedly, Cindy passed, and S Liberty St just won’t be the same.
Front porches. In 2015 Matthew McConaughey composed and shared a beautiful perspective to this immutable facet to life in the Crescent City. Our almost daily exchange with Cindy and Bob embodied their presence on their front porch. The same front porch Cindy meticulously would curate for most any and every holiday. A true spectacle each time, always with the utmost attention to detail and maximum effort. After all, if it’s worth doing, then it’s worth doing well, right? Halloween epitomized these forays into the celebrated life she lived. I mused on it once, and always found inspiration in her executions, not that she could ever be topped. She was the queen bee here. I would imagine even a little compulsive, like she had to do it, otherwise what’s the point? So get out of the way or lend a hand; these decorations were going to happen, and be ready to be impressed.
Forget the holidays. That front porch, that was their perch most days of the year. Their gateway to connecting to the city and to us. A growing family, we are always coming and going. Over the last 9 years those few moments here and there however brief, catching up for a few minutes or more while dashing off to ballet or returning from the school day, these ordinary exchanges wove the fabric of our very being without even realizing it. My two youngest daughters, now aged 5 and 7, have only known a world with Cindy in it. How she always gave so selflessly of her time and attention. My children, my wife and I grew to adore Cindy – and Bob too of course – their pairing and presence presumed to be a fixture. But life happens, and things change. When we learned of Cindy’s passing we all sort of stopped. Myself I was traveling when I heard, and I broke down immediately. Each day since – – – well, it varies.
No coincidences. Raising four young women in our household and having the privilege to share our lives with Cindy’s illuminated sensibility, our paths were unquestionably meant to cross. Our four little ladies looking up to Cindy’s unabashed approach in what it means to be a woman living your life on your terms as loud and as proud as you want, meeting life’s moments however ordinary as an opportunity to elevate them and make them something more. I will never forget, last year in her infectious trademark giggle she called out to my wife and I, each of us adorned in not much more than luchador masks and booty shorts, “So long slut puppies!” as we departed to join our dance krewe. So long, Cindy. Our hearts are heavy in losing you, but your light and energy will always be an inspiration. Thank you.
A second line will take place this Saturday celebrating Cindy’s life, details here. If you knew Cindy, I hope to see you there. And If you didn’t know Cindy, well, she certainly wouldn’t mind if you tag along and surely would enjoy the company.
Jean-Paul Villere is the owner of Villere Realty on Freret Street and a married father of four girls. In addition to his Wednesday column at UptownMessenger.com, he also shares his family’s adventures sometimes via pedicab or bicycle on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.