It is September 2010. Time flies when your having fun.
I've been blogging now for a little over two years and have enjoyed every minute of it.I started this blog for two reasons.
First I wanted to record some of my thoughts and feelings I felt were important to pass on to my children and grandchildren. Often, I have thought maybe I have been a little TOO transparent. Possibly, there are things children and grandchildren are better off not knowing. But if I have to ere in this life, I guess I will have to ere on the side of translucency.
Secondly, by writing down some of the memories of my childhood, both positive and negative, I hoped to find some way of making peace with my past. And I have. Why does it take some of us a lifetime to realize that our parents were just human beings and flawed ones at best? Perhaps it's just me, I don't know. But I do know I have closure now that I did not have before starting this blog.
(Me visiting my mother's grave site located in the ninth ward of New Orleans June 2010)
I made two very significant journeys back to my childhood hometown this summer, New Orleans. Both trips affected me profoundly. It's been difficult to describe and put words to feelings, but I feel now I am ready and I must at least try.
It is the ending of my story and yet it is the beginning.
The first was my trip to the National Hansen's Disease Museum in Carville, Louisiana. In times past it was known as the "Hospital for Lepers". How could I have been brought up in New Orleans, just forty miles down river from this place, and not known this special place existed. Not once had I ever heard this place mentioned in my home, my school or church.
What a special world this was. A place for outcast, for flawed and rejected people not only from our country, but from all over the world! I never had leprosy but I'm sure I would have felt at home there as a child. It sounds crazy I know, but I wish I could have lived there.
I'm told that there was a lot of love there in spite of all the hindrances. Some folks were exiled there for a lifetime for a disease that was never even contagious, as we now all know or at least should know .
There's a part of me that's angry it took fifty-seven years to find out about Carville. I'm privileged to have finally visited there and met Simeon Peterson, a life long resident and sufferer of Hansen's disease. He doesn't have to stay there anymore, but he does so because he WANTS to and works as museum guide. I love the Simeons of this world!
These great warriors of "leprosy" eventually overcame all the obstacles placed upon them. The patients, doctors and nurses and Nuns at Carville played a huge role in finding a cure for this disease. What a real bunch of heroes were they.
After leaving Carville I mentally buried what few childhood feelings I had left of feeling flawed, rejected and outcast.
There are no walls that surround "Carville Leper Colony" now as they once did.
And as for myself? I kicked the last few bricks out from my own lifetime of self imposed walls after having visited there this summer. To God be the glory.
EPIPHANY ACT II
On the fourth of July weekend my husband and I journeyed back to New Orleans to enjoy the fireworks and also visit some of the lovely plantation homes located along River Road. I also had been fascinated by the excellent news coverage of the gulf oil spill provided nightly by Anderson Cooper at CNN. I thought, who knows maybe I'll get to see him as he is there every night reporting from the Riverwalk.
(Oak groves trees, if you look closely at the end of these two rows of trees you will find a white cross right in the middle.)
River Road is unusual road to travel. On one side of the highway there is the levee. On the other side of the highway you find beautiful plantation homes, oak trees, churches and homes. And oddly, chemical plants are located along this road as well. No offense, but those things are just ugly!
( Houmas House Plantation )
On Sunday the fourth of July we drove into the inner city of New Orleans and visited a beautiful little mission church called Vintage Church on Magazine Street. It felt odd for me to attend there. As a child I only knew of Catholic churches in New Orleans and it was a blessing for me to attend this little Baptist Mission church.
(Green building is Vintage Church, Magazine Street, New Orleans.)
We went back to the hotel room and rested awhile after church. After resting we headed back into the city to look around at the Riverwalk area and await the beautiful fireworks display that takes place yearly over the mighty Mississippi River.
One of the first stops we made was at the Cafe Du Monde. This famous coffee and beignet (square donuts with powdered sugar)shop has been part of my family history for long as I can remember. My mother worked there as a teenager as did most of her siblings. My uncle was the manager there for some forty plus years. I still have second cousins that work there today.
(Cafe Du Monde, it really hasn't changed much through the years.)
(A diabetic coma waiting to happen)
Merriam-Webster defines epiphany as "a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something".
Now I have to tell you, I've never, to my knowledge, experienced an epiphany before, but as soon as my husband and I stepped out of the Cafe Du Monde, I knew I was experiencing one. We had paused for just a moment to take in all the sights and sounds.
Two feet in front of us a wonderful jazz band were playing their hearts out. I was amazed they could play so very well in the hot, scorching heat of the day. Happy families milled all around us, some wearing red, white and blue. I'm sure they too were anticipating the fireworks show to come. I looked across the street and gazed upon the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral. My eyes rested momentarily at the street performer all ablazed in gold paint assuming various poses. To my back was the Mississippi River. I couldn't see her but I knew she was there.
As I stood there and took in all the sights and sounds, I was overwhelm with feelings of love, joy, peace and happiness. I had spent the better part of my adult life trying to reconcile my childhood with this city.
And now, in these few brief moments, as I listened to the Paulin Brothers Brass Band play, I made peace with this city. Not only peace with New Orleans but peace with every aspect of my childhood there.
Good people live here. Not everyone that lives here is a drunk or drug addict. There are good churches here with good people who attend them. Hard working, dedicated people who love and care for their families reside here. Not every family is a freak show as I had so often felt of my own.
And no, I never did get to see Anderson Cooper that day. But I did get to see his team and talk to them. They said he had the night off for the holiday and that someone else would be doing his evening show. Oh well! :) Apologies to my Fox & Friends fans. You have to admit though, AC did a great job on the oil spill crises.
So, my story ends here. Does that mean this is the end of my blogging days? By all means no! For you see tomorrow is a new beginning. Tomorrow will bring new challenges, new joys, new sorrows, new opportunities to make peace with whatever it is that may trouble you. Folks, I am thankful that Jesus IS and will FOREVER be my bridge over troubled water!
To God be the glory!
"The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."(John 10:10)
Blessings of peace and all that is good: Debra