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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Great flood of 1927 - New Orleans
Wish I could remember to whom it was that I spoke of my fears of traveling to New Orleans ... .

This is the weekend that my son, David, had gone to elaborate lengths to try to organize a Charbonnet family reunion in our ancestral home of New Orleans.  It was to coincide with the return of his two daughters, Alyana and Tamaya, to the US after several weeks of travel as students through Europe.  They were to meet us in New Orleans on June 21st (tomorrow).  We would spend several days of celebration with the relatives gathered there.  We would visit St. Louis cemetery where so many of our ancestors have been interred over centuries.  There would be a gathering at Corpus Cristi church in the Tremé, the Catholic church that was built by Louis Charbonnet, my paternal grandfather, and in whose name there was so much family pride and honor invested.

Though we learned of it after the reunion plans were made but unknown at that time, our cousin Municipal Judge Desiree Charbonnet would be announcing her candidacy for the Mayor's race in New Orleans!  This was the summer to celebrate, and  Desiree's time had come -- she would be the first woman of this historic city to seek this high office, and a Charbonnet to boot!

Grave of Voodoo Priestess Marie LaVeau

 St. Louis Cemetery
Weeks ago, as the date approached, for nameless reasons, I began to experience a sense of unease.  A kind of disquiet.  I was torn because -- given the fact that my 96th birthday comes in September -- this might well be the last chance to visit the city of our origin.  I was fairly certain of that, and at a point where David's plans seemed to be falling apart, had written a general message to the family supporting those plans, and gently pleading that alternative plans to postpone to next summer be tossed.

I may not be here.

It was decided that this weekend's arrangements would go forth, and then the fears set in.

I kept postponing making reservations, and -- unable to give a reason -- started to try to justify my reluctance because of frailty, of "aging," though I was continuing my 5-day work week with no difficulty.


I finally admitted to someone (and I can't for the life of me recall who that was), that it was fear, that I'd had a dream that brought that 1927 Great Flood back to reality, and given that June was the beginning of hurricane season in the Gulf -- I became consumed by a disabling fear that lasted for several weeks and could not be shaken.

It made no sense since this was the same weekend during which we'd -- only a year ago -- spent a week in New Orleans for the honoring at the WWII Museum.  There had been no such feelings of dread at that time, and that, too, was the beginning of hurricane season.  Why this sense of prescience now?  But it was undeniable, and persistent.

A few weeks ago, I finally found the courage to call David to tell him that I was not going to be able to make the trip after all.  I could hear the crushing disappointment in his voice, and -- in a day or so -- learned that he, too, cancelled, making the trip impossible for my granddaughters to end their travel summer at the reunion in New Orleans.  I felt profoundly guilty of bringing this important reunion to a halt by my inability to shake the unreasoning fear ... .

Heard just a few moments ago by radio that there is a flood warning reaching from Houston, Texas, to the Florida Panhandle over the next few days.  It is expected to bring 12 inches of rain through New Orleans over the next 24 hours, with serious flood warnings.
A senseless foreboding?

I'm not so sure ...

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