Below is the epilogue I wrote to accompany “Born on the Bayou.” It ultimately ended up being cut from the final version of the book, but I thought I would share it with you all here. Thanks for reading.
Like a fire bell in the night I was awakened to the sound of my middle son crying. I jumped out of bed and ran to his bed side. He was rubbing his eyes, trying to catch his breath as the morning sun trickled in through the window shade
“What’s wrong son?” I asked putting my hand on his chest.
“I had a nightmare, dad..” he said sniffling.
“What about?” I asked pushing his hair up on his forehead.
“I dreamed you weren’t my Dad, anymore..” He said crying and panicked.
“You dreamed I was dead?’ I asked concerned.
“No, you were alive you just weren’t my dad anymore…” he said hugging me and looking away.
“I’m always going to be your dad, son…forever…” I said with a tear in my eye.
He got up from his bed and he got a tissue. He was still startled, but now awake he knew that it was just a dream. He hid his face from me thinking that he shouldn’t cry, for after all he was a little man now at 8. I patted him on his back as he blew his nose and I said:
“Son, it was just a dream. Today is Thursday, you’ll have fun at school, and then we’ll have football practice..I’ll cook you breakfast after your brush your teeth…see you downstairs…”
As I walked back to my room, I reflected upon the father-son relationship and the long shadow it casts on our lives.
I thought about how fast my boys will grow up and how soon enough they’ll have their own sons, and they’ll have their memories of me.
My dad died after a long and complicated illness on August 20, 2011 at UCLA medical center. My brothers and I watched him take his last breath.
When a man’s father dies something irrevocable occurs. We ascend in rank and we feel more alone.
We try to remember what our father said to us that can be part of our new tools as we go forward—our thoughts and burdens are compounded with memories of their lives; their ups, their down, their successes, their failures. My Dad’s hammers and anvils.
I know that much within me I can attribute to the early years with my Dad. Memories, stories, skills and loves. The way I raise my own boys is in no small part due to the truths my Dad avoided, but ultimately learned anyway.
We all learn the truth in the end.