Gerry Flores hasn’t walked on her own in over two years. She spends over 360 days per year in a 10×12 bedroom, leaving only when she has a doctor’s appointment.
There are a lot of explanations for why she can’t walk: she’s over 80, she’s overweight, she had a hip replacement and she had lymphoma. But those closest to her know it’s because her daughter, Gail Martinez, was murdered more than two years ago.
Martinez was fatally shot by her husband in a murder-suicide on April 9, 2015. In November of that year, Flores moved from her native California to Louisiana to live with her youngest daughter, Kelly Mason, who could better provide for her during her time of grief.
Flores has seven children, five of whom are still living. Through those children, she has 21 grandchildren and great grandchildren.
“I always wanted babies, so I got them,” she said, a smile spreading across her face.
She’s a sorority girl, but she’s also in a band. She’s a female drummer in a world of male musicians.
“Sometimes people are critical just because I’m a girl,” she said. “They don’t expect that or I’ll get weird comments like ‘I’ve never seen a girl up there.’ Or ‘I thought you’d suck, but you didn’t.’ People underestimate me just because I’m a girl.”
She formed emo revival band Shipwrecked with fellow LSU students David Bankston, Michael Lachney and Garrett Howell in early 2017. Emo revival is an underground movement, similar to pop punk or ‘90s grunge, that gained traction in the early 2010s.
Hyman, Bankston and Howell have known each other since high school.
“We’d always jam, but never wrote anything,” she said. “But, David [Bankston] started writing songs and then we went from there. He actually met Michael [Lachney] on Twitter, which was perfect because we needed a bass player.”
Nearly one third of all college students find themselves in a long- distance relationship. But, what once seemed impossible is becoming easier thanks to innovations like FaceTime and Skype video phone call technologies.
Long- distance couples spend an average of five hours interacting with each other every day, according to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Communication. Interactions include face- to- face communication, phone and video calls, texting, instant messaging and email.
“Spending so much time talking is very beneficial to a relationship,” said licensed family and marriage counselor Steve Fox of Baton Rouge. “‘Normal’ couples spend a lot of time wrapped up in doing things and worrying about their physical relationship, but long distance couples can focus on being friends and talking about what interests them.”
For one couple, Shelby Salley and Kirkland McCulloch, those interests include football, Christianity, pop culture and rap music. They’ve been dating for almost three years.
He’s a senior studying psychology at Louisiana Tech University. She works as an esthetician in Rockwall, Texas.