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Location: New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Leonard Earl Johnson (photo credit Frank Parsley) covered Hurricanes Katrina and Rita (2005), and the 2010 British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico for ConsumerAffairs.com. He is a contributor to Gambit Weekly, New Orleans Magazine, SCAT, Baton Rouge Advocate, Advocate Magazine, The Times-Picayune, Country Roads Magazine, Palm Springs Newswire and the anthologies: FRENCH QUARTER FICTION (Light of New Orleans Publishing), LOUISIANA IN WORDS (Pelican Publishing), LIFE IN THE WAKE (NOLAfuges.com), and more. Johnson is a former Merchant Seaman, and columnist at Les Amis de Marigny, New Orleans; and African-American Village. Attended Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship at Piney Point, Maryland. Winner of the Press Club of New Orleans Award for Excellence, 1991, and given the Key to The City and a Certificate of Appreciation from the New Orleans City Council for a Gambit Weekly story on murder in the French Quarter.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Even Oil Barons get the Blues / October 2012

Yours Truly in a Swamp
October 2012

* * *

Even Oil Barons get the Blues
by Leonard Earl Johnson
Hurricane Isaac rolled into New Orleans for 2012's Katrina Day Party dressed-up like memories of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  

We made-witness, as some religious folks say, and saw that day anew.  And felt things about it in a new way. Saw the route from there to here more clearly. Moving on.

We '05-ers know what post traumatic stress syndrome is. It is when something happens bigger than you can get your head around, then comes back later -- in a different focus.

And the winning costume this year was Isaac, the Hurricane! 

Every year, since 2005, we send a note to members of Temple Shalom, Lafayette, thanking them for fishing us from FEMA's harsh nets. Without them we might have landed on an army cot and an airplane to Boise, Idaho.   

"FEMA says they are doing better, now," L. A. Norma said, "but they said that in '05, too."

With each note we enclosed a small gift -- like last year's tiny book of Romanian cartoons none of us much understood.  We didn't include a gift t
his year, just a notation that Isaac was our forget-me-not gift this time.
Bumps that go Titanic in your head, like The Storms of '05, are bumps that change your route in Life. Last week, my Sister checked our Mother in at a hospice nursing home -- upsetting for us all. A big bump.

Like poets and artists, she now sees in metaphorShe is 96, and mostly blind. One day last week a string of little strokes showed her lost-vision that her bathroom was flooding -- from the ceiling and floor! She phoned for help, but she was seeing inner-eye views. 

In our dreams water is the sub conscience, Freud tells us. He also knew flooding was a Life altering bump. 

LEJ at The Well, Homus House
Photocredit: Melisa Dronet
I have no sweeter memory of my Mother than her phone call on my 69th Birthday. (When you are 96, your Son is old too) I was chewing cud with a colorful bunch of Lafayette oil barons, lawyers and husbands-to-younger wives. Our lunch was a treat from one of the oil barons.  It was Wednesday's all-day happy hour, and our fourth glass of Medicinal Red was well under way when the phone rang.

Our group leader held up a finger and hushed an approaching supplicant, "Leonard's Mother is on the phone," he said in respectful tones. The group fell silent.

Her nurse dialed the phone, she said.  She wished me a happy Birthday, but when I asked she didn't remember what she was doing sixty-nine years ago.  When I reminded her she laughed.

You could see the word, Mother, form on every lip and in every eye. Sometimes even oil barons and old scribes get the blues.
Copyright, 2012, Leonard Earl Johnson
All Rights Reserved

Papa LEJ
photo credit: Maureen Brennan