posted on Jun, 16 2010 @ 10:05 AM
It's a hard thing when it is your dad who is the one who thinks he is invincible, instead of it being you, the kid. Raised in South Louisiana, he
weathered so many different kinds of storms that, like so many there, he began to feel untouchable. He grew up during the fifties, when those in
charge were white, period. Antebellum homes stood as testament to the long held cultural beliefs in white superiority. He lived through the sixties
and seventies, when those fallacies were overturned. He married, and raised children in the eighties, and tried, in vain at times, to be the adult.
His childhood was one of indulgence, and favor, with good hard work thrown in for measured texture. He even did a stint in the Army. Like his parents
before him, he could be forgiving when the mood struck, or he could be hard and unyielding. His sense of fun, adventure, and play never left him
He was a fisherman, a boat captain, a landscaper, a business owner, a policeman, and a real estate developer. Those were his jobs. His life was on the
water, doing whatever he could on the water, including living as close as possible to it. He knew no other way to live, nor did he ever even entertain
living another way. His current, aging life in Diamond Head, MS was the one he wanted and the one he was going to live, no matter what.
He survived torrential rains and annual floods in New Orleans. He survived tornadoes and crazy lightning and hailstorms in New Orleans. He survived
hurricane after hurricane in New Orleans, including Katrina. He survived all of this without running away, ever. He wasn't leaving, come hell or high
water, and believe me, they had come before.
I called him the day of the oil spill in the Gulf. Asked what the news was, what was going on. He had no news, but wasn't worried. These things
happened all the time, he said. It would be fine in the end.
A month later, I asked him about the news now, with oil coming ashore in our old home of Empire/South Pass. Nothing to worry about, he said. Yes, the
marshes were damaged, but the earth would repair itself. Methane in the air? Nah, no worse than riding a pirogue around the swamps in the backwater
country. Nothing to worry about he said.
Calling every other day after that, as news got worse and worse about toxins both in the air and in the water, always to the same response, I am safe
here, not leaving, nothing to worry about, ad nauseum. Dad, the playful, carefree, sometimes even irresponsible guy who thought nothing could touch
him, was just being dumb now. No he wouldn't come stay with me in the North Atlantic Coast area. Yes, it is near water, but not near MY water, he
said. My worry intensified every day until I finally could take it no more.
I made the plans for the trip to see him on a Monday morning. By Thursday afternoon, I was in Diamond Head with him, catching up on our daily lives.
Friday morning I asked him to take me to our old stomping grounds in Plaquemines Parish. He had people there he hadn't seen in a coon's age, so
yeah, we could go, he said.
It was a surrealistic nightmare. Juxtaposed with remaining damage from Katrina was now waterways that looked like a comic book version of apocalypse,
everywhere the eye could see. My red tide sensitivity was nothing to the way the chemicals made my eyes water, my throat and mouth burn, and the
breath catch in my lungs. Dad, as usual, was unaffected. There were no fishing leaping into the air after insects. No birds flying overhead in every
direction, no roosting in trees. You couldn't even hear the guttural cries of the frogs and gators. Nothing but the sounds of boats on the water,
planes overhead flying low, and the ever-present mosquito swarms. The smell was more than I could bear.