Sunday, October 3, 2010

Spiritual Gumbo - Chapter One.

  In this world of ours, there are laws that God has made. The law of cause and effect, that of fate and those of accidents and that of faith, etc.   Looking back at how it came to be that we meet certain people in our lives, it becomes hard to tell which one of these laws created that event.
  Well as any story has to begin somewhere, I choose to tell this one first.  She was my first love, my childhood sweetheart. Her name is Debby.
  I was a young lad of fifteen years old. I had friend that lived across the street from me and one day he came and told me about this phone call he recieved.  It was from a young girl, as it  seemed. she and her friend were making prank calls, goofing around on the phone.  They were looking in the phone book under the name Ziffles. There was an old TV show called Green Acres, and in the show one of the charaters was a pig named Arnold. They decided to call up the Ziffles and asked if they could talk to Arnold the Pig.  What happened was that the girl accidently pressed a wrong digit and call my friend who lived across the street.   So my friend approached me with the propostion of us riding our bicycles over to meet these young girls.
 Well that's how it all began which would have the most profound effect upon me for the rest of my life.
  This is a love story.   Also it's a story of people and events which I have encountered in my life.
  I was born in the year 1953, raised up across the river from New Orleans, Louisiana.  My upbringing was quite normal as anyone in the outer subburbs of any large city.  I was the second child between an older brother Wayne and younger sister named Nadine.  My father was a mechanic/electrical engineer and my mother a domestic housewife.
  My mother was raised by her mother named Emily who lived with her brother Nick and sister Agath, both of them never married. My Grandma married a man name Morris Sapia.  Grandma had three children from this union. My mother's name was Earline and her twin was uncle Earl.  They also had an older sister named Mary.  My mother didn't know her father very well.  Grandma and Grandpa divorced when she was quite young.  Grandpa Morris was a trapper and my grandma's mother urged her to seperate from him because he wanted to raise those children back in the swamps in the old ways like the indians.  Morris was illiterate and only learned how to write his name at the age of 74.
  My mother had an unusal birth.  My grandma told me that when she was carrying my mother she saw a falling star, grabbed her leg and made a wish. She asked God to bring her a child into the world who would be gift to many people.  And indeed when she came out with her twin brother she had what was called a veil over her face. This was extra layer of skin the covered her face.  Many fishermen in those days would seek that out to nail it on their boat as it was believed to have brought them good luck.   My grandpa so proud of himself telling everyone he made a "double man".  Mom's twin didn't have any special marks, but he did have the gift of gab.  So much so that he had the nickname Chatta because he talked alot. Also on my mother's leg was a birthmark in the shape of a star.  Grandma took that mark as a sign that her wish came true.
 Now my mother was a sickly child, not a very healthy child, which caused her to miss alot of school.  She never passed fifth grade.  When she would go to school she would start telling the other childen about things that frightened them. In her innocence she didn't know any better and would just say things out of the blue.  For example once she told some of the other children that little John would in three days would  have a broken leg, and sure enough it came to pass. One time she was telling everyone that it was going to snow the next week. All the children made fun of her, because having snow this far south was so rare of an event. But when it did snow, all the children remarked how Earline told them all about it.  The teacher would pull her on the side and ask her please keep those things to herself.  Oh, but my mother just couldn't help it, she just couldn't stop from telling the other children about things she felt. This later on in her life got her into trouble with many churches and many pastors when she tried to find a home to practice her gift. Once my grandma told me that when she was young,  the principal of the school came to her house and asked her if she could take her out of the school.
 Now there a group of ladies one day approached my grandma and asked if they take her and train her to use her gift.  But my grandmother refused because they were brought up as Catholics and the ladies were fortune tellers and in those days that was considered not in line with the teachings of the Chruch.
 Now Grandpa Morris built himself a camp back in the swamp off of bayou Segnette which in those days a person could pay the state two dollars a year for squartter's rights. Now all that land is now part of Jean Lafitte State park.   Like I said, grandpa was trapper all his life, he knew nothing else. He told me that when he was younger his father raised butter beans and he would take his pirogue, a small boat made by hollowing out a large log,  and he come up to the French Market in New Orleans to sell his beans.  He had the reputation of being the Butter Bean King.  Also when grandpa and his father were young they would collect moss off the trees and dry them out to sell to Henry T. Ford in which was used to stuff those Model T car seats with.  Grandpa was a very strong man, people would use him as jack to raise the Model T's with his legs as they changed the tires.  Oh, them old cajuns were a tough lot. On Saturday night in Crown Point, which they called at the end of the boulivard there was a tavern. There was much drinking and those guys would have aligator wrestling. Granpa said there was a trick to it. He would jump in that pit and grab that gator and turn them over on top of himself. There he would be petting that gator's belly saying all kinds of sweet words to that reptile, like Oh sha tee baba, you so pretty, and that gator would fall asleep in his arms. But grandpa told me that what really happens is that those animals have a brain only the size of a pea and when you turn them over all the blood rushes out of it and they go unconscious.
 My grandma took the children and raised them up front with old uncle Nick and aunt Agath. There they were raise on a small dairy farm with a few chickens and a small garden. Now when my mother became the age of marriage, there was a man who would come around on his motorcycle. This became my father. The family encouraged this union basically because he had a job and they looked at him as a good provider.  But they were mismatched from the very start. Oh, I'm sure like all young people there was a natural physcial attraction. But as the years went on their love never developed on any deeper levels.  She was a very religious minded woman, and my father, he was more scientific in his approach to life. He never did believe in any supernatural being. Both passed away now.
 And so this was my background.  Raised with and older brother and a younger sister, very religious minded mother and atheist father. When I reached the age of fourteen my parents seperated. 
 Now as I was saying, it was this time I had a friend named Carl who lived across the street who had that prank call.  Carl and I rode our bikes to visit these two young girls. I would say that this was the first time in my life I felt so attracted to a girl. The beautiful long brown hair and pretty smile. It was love at first sight. I know I was suppose to have been a fellow for her friend ,while Carl was to have been there to meet her. But to this day, I can't even remember what her friend looked like. We playfully joked around and later she told me that when I tilted my head upside down sitting in the  kitchen chair and our eyes met that she fell for me. We didn't stay very long and on the ride home all I could think about was that I sure did meet one of the prettest girls I've ever met in my life. We didn't exchange phone numbers or addresses, but two days later I got off the school bus and this premonition struck me that I should go to the mail box and get a letter from her which would have told me that she liked me more then my friend. Going the mail box was not a habit of mine, but this day, I just knew I was going to get that letter. I knew exactly what it was going to say before I opened it. She on the other hand took a chance and sent that letter to an address from the phone book that had our family's last name, not even sure if it was the right address. This was the first time in my life that I experienced that knowing before the event happened. I was amazed that I had such a strong premonition in my life about anything. Perhaps it was what christians would call faith, that knowing that you know feeling. Perhaps it was that it happened all before and my life came up to the event, like destiny. It was meant to be. There was no hope about it, no consideration it was going to happen. Just that thought entered spontaneously in my head, go get that letter. And that premonition came true.  I was connected to that girl and my heart was opened to my first love. Much later on in my life I would think about that and reflect upon it as perhaps that was the same kind of way my mother would feel about those things she would predict openly in her youth. Something you felt beyond any doubt that would happen.
 Was it an accident that she pressed in the wrong digit? Was it fate?  Was it that the event came before the cause?  Was it part of faith? Or, was it that Love came into manifestation at it's appointed time and created our destiny?  I have come to believe that in our lives love is one those mysteries .  For us it was love at first sight.  That first attraction has a way of speaking to a side of us that is not fully conscious. Why are we attracted to some and not others?.  It's that question that can only be answered by allowing ourselves to open up to another.  One thing for sure is that the wanting of that other person is not something you force upon yourself.  It's not as if you like the person and as time goes by you learn to love them. It's already there fully developed as it were, and time passes only to show just how much it's always been there.  There is that sense that  you need not become anything more and even all your shortcomings matters not, that state of being loved is completely and fully grown.  When someone accepts you as you are, you accept yourself as you are.  You feel absolutely lovable.   And when both have this urge to be together, a passion is stirred, a longing is created.  Sure it starts off as a physical attraction, but very soon the personalities meet and each have that feelings they they have just met someone who can read your soul.  Soulmates can read each other's thoughts.  It's always amazing how one can pull the words right out of someone's mind before they are even spoken. It's like the effect of two guitars finely tuned sitting next to each other, when one string is plucked , the vibration resonates and sounds off the same note on the other guitar.  Our thoughts might be those sounds of the heart strings.  And when you come in contact with your soulmate the music of love plays in your very being, and two touch in ways beyond the physical. 
 That letter that day when I knew it would be there and what was in it created in me a connection for the first time in my life that was beyond explaination.  And there was no way to explain it except, I was in love.
 We were young and many would say it was puppy love.  Indeed it was a sweetness.  That first encounter people have when they feel that attraction is joyful.   We started the phone calls. Everynight we spent a couple hours on the phone and on weekends we would get together. Her mother really liked me. She must have because she left us alone to kiss in the living room. We were good kids. I was raised with morals and that going any further intimately required that I should be married first.  So my hands did not go below the shoulders. But we sure made up for it with the kissing.  I remember many times we had kissed so much our lips stayed chapped for days.  My mother would drop me off by her house and her mother would drop us off by ferry landing. We take excursion across the river to New Orleans, sometimes to the French Quarters and other times to parks. In those days there were many activities, always something going on at Audubon Park.  There were free rock concerts and kite flying contest put on my the local radio station.  There is one scene that took place that throughout my whole life I would always and vividly remember.  It was at one of those kite flying contest, late in the evening they sun was getting low in the sky, Debby and I laid in the grass.  The whole world seemed to have stopped as we gazed into each other's eyes.  I saw beauty in the girl's face. In those silent moments eternity flooded into me.  I experienced God in that smile.  It's a picture my mind will always remember.  We did many wonderful things together,  She was like me, an artist also.  We did pictures together and that is another thing we shared in common. We dated about nine months.   It was so nice to be young without care of any responsibility in life. 
  But all of that would change.
   At the age of 16 we had to move, and I took on the responsibility of being the man of the house. Brother joined the navy and my father was going to lived the life he wanted. I felt stuck in my new role in life. And I did the only thing I knew what to do,   I couldn't leave my sister and mother to defend for themselves. So I stayed.
  I was programmed to believe that I shouldn't get take on any responsible of having a girlfriend or even thinking of marrying if I couldn't take care of her.  Once her mother pulled me on the side and asked me if I would take care of her daughter.  She was concerned for her daughter as she had illnesses. I even saw her mother once go into an epileptic fit.
 I felt I just couldn't keep my relationship with her.  So sadly I ended it.  We did try briefly the next year, but for only about three months. By this time I was going to my last year of high school half a day and working as a busboy in a restruant the other half.  I would work all I could just to pay the bills and keep what was left of the family alive. But still I only had a few dollars to spend on myself at the end of the week. And so, I gave up all hopes of having a girlfriend.  I had no time and no money.  And so all that love we shared became to me some distant dream of the past.
 And with that, started the next chapter in my life.

 to be continued....
  Chester Dickens of SL

1 comment:

  1. Chester,
    I was greatly moved by this sharing of your soul. Thank you for taking the time to share it with me and I look forward to chapter two.