Posts Tagged ‘wedding’

It’s been four years since Hurricane Katrina hit, wiping out nearly all of my childhood haunts on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and causing unimaginable destruction in New Orleans. It also did thousands of dollars in damage to my home in Mobile, Alabama, but that’s an afterthought considering what happened to folks west of there.

The dichotomy of kindness and chaos during Katrina’s aftermath did a number on me. At times, my faith in the innate goodness of people was strengthened, but then another tragic headline would tear that faith to shreds.

I didn’t know where my mom was for two days. Turns out she lives on the highest part of Biloxi and just had wind damage, but the only images of Biloxi on television showed blocks of flattened houses. The last image she had seen of Mobile before she lost power was the appropriately named Water Street, filled with so much water that there were waves cresting over street signs.

Fears on both sides were put to rest when Mom, her boyfriend and their two bad little dogs pulled up in my driveway on the third day.

Not two years earlier, I had scattered my dad’s ashes in the Mississippi River from the levies near the French Quarter, returning his remains to the city he loved, the city whose music inspired him. The Mississippi River had, in turn, scattered itself all over the Crescent City.

I had left two of my dad’s saxophones with a horn dealer in New Orleans a few months before the storm. After his death, I had decided that they needed to be in the hands of someone who would use them.

Several weeks after the storm, I made a halfhearted attempt to track down the dealer and check on the horns. I found out that his warehouse had been destroyed, and my best guess was that his delicate old home had, at the very least, sustained massive wind damage. I was close to being ashamed of myself, checking on $1200 worth of horns when parts of the city had virtually been wiped from the map.

The thing is, I didn’t really want the money (though it would have bought a good bit of non-squishy carpet), and I certainly didn’t want the horns back. I just wanted to see if they survived the storm.

My fiercest hope is that they survived the wind and the water and the looting, that someone picked them up and gave them to a down-and-out musician, or hell, SOLD them to a down-and-out musician for Sheetrock money, and that they’re making music on the streets of New Orleans to this day. My worst fear is that they’re rusting away in a landfill, or entangled in debris at the bottom of a neglected waterway.


The last time I saw my dad play was at my wedding. He was the kind of guy who needed an assignment to make it through four hours of socializing with strangers, and putting him on stage was a great move. He knew how to blend in with the band without upstaging anybody, though he threw in some ass-kicking solos when the moment was right.

I was cool with the idea of not knowing exactly where my dad’s remains would lie. Really, I couldn’t wait to get the box out of the house after it arrived in the mail. I never had any intention of keeping ashes in a vase on the mantel.

Sometimes I have this vision of his ashes flowing through the streets of New Orleans in the floodwaters, landing here and there, making themselves a permanent part of the spirit of the city.

I miss my dad, and I miss New Orleans. But the thought that his saxophones might be helping entice tourists to toss dollar bills into a horn case on a street corner somewhere makes it all a little more bearable.

Read Full Post »

Me on my wedding day

Me on my wedding day

My mom on her wedding day.

Mom on her wedding day

First of all, how much of a babe was my mom on her wedding day?

I was flipping through old photos on Mother’s Day, and it occurred to me that most brides get the same wedding-day advice from their mothers – stand up straight, blot your lipstick, don’t drink more than two glasses of champagne every hour, etc.

My mom didn’t load me down with nitpicking advice. On the way to the ceremony site, she sat next to me and explained that she really liked my fiance and thought he was the perfect man for me. She added, though, that if I had any idea that I didn’t want to get married, for any reason at all, then we would just keep driving.

I was never clear whether this “we” included my future father-in-law, who was chauffeuring us both around. My mom is the queen of Plan B, so for all I know she had a black Trans Am hidden behind a billboard, ready to make our getaway a la “Smokey and the Bandit.”

Trust me, if the woman ever got behind the wheel of a V8 muscle car, no one would catch up to her until she hit the Texas state line.

I didn’t take her up on her offer, and neither one of us has regretted it. If I hadn’t married my fiance, I think she may have tried to adopt him.

I don’t know that I ever told her how much I appreciated the thought, though, knowing full well that she was willing to risk a museum full of angry out-of-town relatives if I needed an out. And if I had to let anybody drive 130 miles an hour while I was stripping off wedding gown parts and letting them fly into the wind, it would be my mom.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: