DEVILLE: Searching For Perspective

It is the time of year when Tiger Town gets really busy.

Sure enough, football season is typically the most happening time around campus, in terms of sustained excitement and national attention.

But come the end of February and the beginning of March, there are more sports going on than you care to count.

You can literally take your pick and there's a sport that will quench your LSU thirst. Men's and women's basketball is hitting the home stretch, baseball and softball are getting cranked up to full throttle, all-day track meets at Bernie Moore; there is a little something for everyone.

And yes, for you diehards, spring football.

Les Miles and the Tigers hit the practice fields at the Charles McClendon Practice Facility Friday afternoon for the first of 15 official workouts.

Toss in early recruiting chatter, something that never ceases in this business, and it makes for a pretty hectic weekend as you can imagine.

My Sunday morning started off fairly normal.

With a full slate of activities, church was out of the question on this brilliantly sunny Sunday morning. So with the newspaper in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, I clicked on the television while looking over the boxscore of LSU's Saturday night 22-11 win over Duquesne.

That's when my Sunday turned from normal to anything but.

The phone rang on the bedside table and the caller ID told the entire story. An 8:15 a.m., Sunday morning phone call from my mom in north Louisiana could mean only one thing.

And my fears were confirmed.

My sweetheart of a grandmother had passed away at the tender age of 102.

It wasn't a big surprise. Confined to a nursing home, her health had deteriorated over the last several months. I recall my last lucid conversation with her. It was an hour-long visit last June on her 102nd birthday. My brother and his wife were there from Oklahoma as well as my parents; a truly happy day.

By the time Christmas arrived, she was beginning to fade. It was a wonder she lasted into 2008. She made it into the New Year, but passed quietly in her sleep sometime during the night of March 1.

Gladys Tommy Copeland Wilson was born on June 17, 1905 in Fountain Hill, Arkansas.

Coming from meager roots in a small south Arkansas town, she moved around quite a bit as a young person spending short stints of time in Kansas City and Tulsa before finally settling down the small mill town of Bastrop in north Louisiana.

I am taking this opportunity to speak candidly of my grandmother because there will not be very much made of her passing. Speaking with my folks this Sunday afternoon, there will be no official funeral, only a graveside service sometime on Tuesday. Besides my immediate family and a sprinkling of distant nieces and nephews, there are very few people left to celebrate the life of this 102-year-old lady.

And that in itself makes me sad.

She lived so long, saw so many things and experienced so much.

I recall a conversation with my grandmother over 10 years ago just before she entered a nursing home. I had recently gone on a date in Monroe during my college years and had stopped by her house to visit. She asked what we did on the date, to which I replied we went to a movie.

"What'd you see?" she asked.

I replied, "Titanic."

Without blinking an eye, she remarked, "I remember that."

There are times in life when you must step back and get some perspective. That was definitely one of them. To recall an event that happened, at that time, some eighty-plus years earlier, was amazing.

My grandmother lived through two World Wars, the Korean, Vietnam and both Gulf Wars. She survived the Great Depression, the Cuban Missile Crisis, experienced both Kennedy Assassinations, the Civil Rights Movement and watched the Roaring 20s evolve into the disco era of the 1970s and lived on to understand what rap music was.

And for you Tiger fans, here is something to ponder. In my grandmother's lifetime, LSU won three national titles (1958, 2003, 2007) and endured the reign of 25 of LSU's 32 head coaches dating back to the 1905 season; ironically beginning and ending with two Michigan grads as coaches. D.A. Killian, a Michigan alum, led the Tigers from 1904-06; Les Miles, also a man of maize and blue, is currently the most successful coach in school history.

And finally, here's a claim few people can make. My grandmother experienced LSU's last three undefeated seasons (1905, 1908, 1958) - and lived to see the 21st century.

Now that's perspective.

Rest in peace Grandma. We will miss you dearly.


Matt Deville is the editor of Tiger Rag. Reach him at

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