The false Y2K scare notwithstanding, the turn of the millennia yet proved to be an intimately impactful year in my life.
The year before had brought me my beautiful first born, who was now on her way to meet her grandfather for the first time. What she didn't know was that this would be one of the last times she, or any of us, would have with him. My father was 60 miles away in a hospital, recently diagnosed with advanced and aggressive cancer. What was worse was this meeting incidental as we were en route to the same town for a funeral. Our beloved Aunt Rita, my father's baby sister, had lost with the same monster that was ravaging my father.
I am one of 7 children. Most of us still live in Lake Charles, LA. But one of my brothers and I lived some distance away in Lafayette. Arrangements were made for my small family and Kenneth to stay at our brother's house in town.
When we got to Lake Charles, we went first to see my father. He was weak and on meds but awake enough to sing my daughter a song that my family sings to all the babies and toddlers. She recognized the little ditty and hugged him. It wasn't long before he grew tired and needed to rest. So we left for the funeral home for my Aunt's wake. The funeral would be the next day and it would be early. We left there and went to our brothers' home for the night.
Upon waking the next morning, Kenneth had a tale to tell that blew us away! According to Kenneth he was visited while he slept by our late cousin Rene. She was a lovely, spirited young woman we lost to an automobile accident about 6 years prior. Kenneth described this dream as concurrent with reality. Meaning that he was in my brother's house, wearing the clothes he slept in, etc... Mirroring reality to a tee. He told us that Rene sat on his bed with him and told him that she was there to help Aunt Rita crossover and not to worry for her. She said that soon my dad would be with her as well and that all was as it should be. This was no shock as Dad was in a sorry state and Kenneth felt relieved that the suffering would soon subside. What she said next, though was truly shocking. She said that she came to him to warn that one of us would soon be sick as well but not to give up because it could be beaten. He asked her who would it be and all she would say was not to worry. The dream ended there.
Six days later, my father was gone. So in the span of one week my family lost two cherished members to cancer. What a year!
Life goes on and so we returned to our home in Lafayette, doing the usual day to day things. My daughters' nights however would change quite a bit. She was only about a year and half old and still waking nightly for a bottle. This was my week to tend to feedings. (Yes! I am a good Daddy!) One night I awoke to her cries and stumbled towards her room. Usually she would cry until I picked her up. This night she stopped before I got to her door. I walked in to find her standing in her crib. She said to me "The man" in toddler-speak.I asked,"What man,Sweetie?" looking around the room. "He sing" she said. I could not get anything more from her. I wrote it off as a dreams. But dreams have power in my family.
That same week, as I was settling in for a mid-afternoon nap, the phone rang rousing me. I was in that mode of sleep where you're resting so lightly that you are aware of your surroundings. I answered the phone groggily and was greeted with a familiar voice. It sounded like my Dad, but plenty of my relatives sound a lot like my Father. "Hey boy!" Whatcha doin'?"said the caller. I am struggling to place the voice and not wanting to offend so I played along. "Nothing much" I say. "When are you going to come visit?" says the mystery caller. "Who is this?" I demanded! To which he answered, "Who do think!" By now I am suspecting this is someone's sick idea of a joke! This guy sounds like my Dad but he has passed away. Maybe this jerk doesn't know so I say, "Okay I'll visit. Where are you at?" But he evades the question saying "Monkey...you know where I am!" My jaw dropped. Only my dad called me that! Was this really my Dad? "You haven't been by yet. Come see me,Monkey." "Dad is that you?" I choked. "Be Good, Monk! I have to go..."he trailed. "WAIT! I still have "the line went dead," Questions..."
I laid back down absolutely dumbstruck. I don't remember falling asleep or even hanging up the phone. I awoke hours later wondering what had happened. Did I receive a phone call from my Dad? Or was it a dream? My head struggled but my heart was certain. I went visit my Dad's grave the next day. And all has returned to normal.
It's been 11 years and since then and my brother Kenneth was diagnosed with kidney cancer...
And YES HE BEAT IT!