My name is Audrey Marie Fontenot. I was born in Louisiana in the year 1939. I never had an easy path through life, which is why I believe that family is the most important backbone of society. Obviously I didn’t grow up with equality between the sexes, even my great-grandchildren might not grow up with the equality that we strive for, but what got me through the tough times is family.
When growing up, I didn’t start school until I was around seven years old, which is weird to think about now, with all the new pre-Kindergarten classes. My parents were sharecroppers, so you could say that we weren’t the wealthiest of folks. I had one brother and two sisters, so growing up, it was pretty crowded, and if you didn’t love your family, you hated them. Well we were about as close as a family as you would find. I was constantly sick as a child, and when I wasn’t sick, I would be out in the fields with my family. In this environment, school wasn’t the easiest it could have been. I ended up dropping out and moving to Eunice, Louisiana when I was eighteen. While I was there, I got a job working at a drive-through restaurant as a waitress. While working there, I met the love of my life, Harold Fontenot. I had to quit my job and move back to my hometown to help with family problems.
Harold would come out and visit me all the time and seven months later, we decided to get married. I moved back to Eunice to be with Harold, and in 1959, only one year later, we had our first child, Dwayne. From that point on our family kept growing with Cindy, Kackie, and our youngest child Vickie. We wanted children, but we didn’t plan to have a big family, and looking back, it truly was a gift from God.
Harold's family came from a very poor region of the state as well so he was used to home raising animals just as I was and it was his idea to eventually raise rabbits. When it was time for them to be butchered, our family had grown too attached to the rabbits and Harold had to release them in the forest. Many years later, Harold brought home a turtle, a live turtle. While I never loved turtle meat, Harold loved it and I knew that. I watched him struggle for only a short while to clean the turtle with his horrible arthritis until I pitched in an effort. He talked me through how to get the meat prepared, and after a long nap, I told him to never bring home any more exotic animals because if he wants it, we could just go to the store and buy the food already prepared. A few years later he brings home a chicken.
After decades of fun, laughter, and good times, Harold passed away. I truly realized the gift of family after that point in my life. I had nothing but support from my friends, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. To think that some of my family is treated unfairly compared to my other family is a horrible thought. When you are a family, it doesn’t matter if you are a guy or a girl. All that matters is that you should always have support from your family, and respect from your coworkers. At the end of the day, we remember the day we got plumbing, we all remember the day we got electricity, and we all remember what it was like to be put down by someone else. So why should half of us suffer?