Alec was born and reared in the city of New Orleans. Often called more colorful, exotic names—Nawlins, the Big Easy, Crescent City, Mardi Gras City, and the Birthplace of Jazz—each name described an aspect of the famous French-Cajun city since its establishment in 1718. Crescent City became a popular nickname when the French Quarter expanded, following the natural curve or crescent shape of the Mississippi River.
New Orleans was certainly resilient—a city that kept crawling back for more no matter how the odds were stacked against it. Ever since the Hurricane of 1947, which had claimed fifty-one innocent lives, the Crescent City and its residents pushed on. By 1971, the below sea level city had been hit by five additional major storms, the worst of which was Betsy in 1965. Hurricane Betsy claimed seventy-five lives. Faced with life-threatening dangers again and again, the residents of New Orleans had somehow managed to stay alive, to dig themselves out of the rubble, and once again rebuild their city.
Alec’s mother, Cassidy, owned a home on Carrollton Avenue. She had inherited the large two-story from her parents, Martin and Jazibella Saguache. The residence had been passed down for more than five generations in the Saguache family. The surname, pronounced Suh-watch, meant ‘blue earth or blue water’ and each family member had indeed inherited startling blue eyes. The Saguache eyes were as blue as the Caribbean Sea, as blue as a cloudless sky. It was their most defining and striking feature.
During Alec’s younger years, Cassidy was gentle and kind, but after the long, endless days of marriage to Buck Winters, she’d changed. Her husband had effectively hidden his raunchy, carousing lifestyle for the first seven years of their marriage. After Catalina was born, he felt confident that Cassidy would never leave him. He intrinsically knew that his prudish wife would never choose to be a single mother with two young children in the dog-eat-dog city of New Orleans. He knew she would never leave the family home either.
Buck was right about that, Cassidy felt trapped. Nevertheless, it was more than that. She grew disillusioned and disheartened. Her life had not progressed the way she’d thought it would and she was truly miserable. If the truth was known about the situation, she had never wanted to marry Buck Winters. In fact, Cassidy had fallen in love with Zach Weaver during high school and had dreamed of a happily-married life with him. However, when push came to shove, she hardly had a say in the matter.
Even though Martin and Jazibella Saguache had never gone into ancestral or biological details about their objection to Zack, they forbid the union. Her parents had merely insisted that their daughter marry Buck Winters. According to both of them, he was a perfect match—if she wanted to have a family and children. Cassidy definitely wanted to have children, but because her parents were secretive and mysterious, the importance and significance of a ‘perfect match’ was lost on her.
In the beginning, Cassidy had welcomed Buck into her bed. Although he was a tall and powerful man with a good job, there was something else appealing about him, something that she couldn’t quite define. He possessed a charisma that drew her in. Even after all this time, she still couldn’t name the attraction but she suspected it was sensory…a smell, a scent of some kind that she had once found appealing and attractive, almost irresistible.
In all reality, it was a cosmic mating call that Cassidy would never understand because her parents hadn’t shared the information with her. They failed to explain the genetic implications or that the Saguache line had to continue no matter what the cost. Unfortunately, whatever the attraction to Buck, it didn’t last long. It was gone as soon as she became pregnant with Catalina.
After that, Buck revealed his true nature. He had a penchant for too much drink and too many women. He no longer sought out his wife to fulfill his sexual needs. Without the ‘matrimonial-glue’ that normally binds a couple together, he became cold and hostile. He no longer showed any care or concern for her or the children either. Cassidy felt trapped in a loveless marriage.
Each time Buck betrayed her, and he cheated on her often, another piece of her joy died. Cassidy had become a little more cynical and a little more resentful about her circumstances. She was certain that marriage to Zack Weaver would’ve resulted in a happier life. She blamed her parents for the misery she suffered and never forgave them before their deaths.
Once, Cassidy had seen the possibilities in life and the beauty in everything. She had encouraged her children from a metaphysical perspective, quoting many simple, yet profound, philosophies from great teachers. Alec remembered his mother had often said that ‘everything is exactly as it’s supposed to be.’
At one time, she had faith that everything was connected; everything was perfect. She believed that gratitude was the key to true happiness. Eventually, with no way out of the loveless marriage to Buck, she couldn’t find anything for which she felt grateful. Alec wasn’t a fool; he saw the damage done by both his parents. Now, he wasn’t sure that his mother had faith in anything anymore. In fact, he wasn’t sure what she believed.
Cassidy’s early principles of faith weren’t commonly accepted in the staunch Catholic bible-toting population of New Orleans. Many of the good Christian folk in the area shunned the young mother. They agreed with her hedonistic husband who ridiculed her for such foolish beliefs. He called her faith ‘pathetic.’ He often told her she was ‘grasping at straws.’
Eventually, outnumbered, worn down, and isolated, she observed the shambles of her life only to lose any remaining faith. Cassidy reasoned that, without the ability to create effective change, life was pointless. Without faith, she began to deteriorate physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Life isn’t always likened to slipping on a banana peel and falling to the ground. Sometimes, it is a long, scary slide to the deepest regions of despair. Such was the case for Cassidy. Now, she was a blackout drunk, lying on the sofa in a complete stupor, unaware of the condition of her surroundings and blind to the fact that her family was falling apart. Their home life had drastically changed.
Cat missed the very best of our mother and it isn’t fair, Alec thought.
It wasn’t fair to any of them, but most of all it wasn’t fair to Catalina—she deserved so much better.