With the Water
The woman stood anxiously waiting on the dock in front of the weathered shack leaning on a gnarled black stick of a cane. A thick braid the color of storm clouds over deep water hung half way down her back as she gazed into the mists rising from the bayou. She could feel that her kin were coming home, that they were close.
“Soon now . . . there, maybe . . . Yes!” A flicker of lantern light shone yellow through the cypress trees as a boat rounded the turn at Little Bayou Pigeon. “They will be here in minutes,” she clapped her hands together and hurried to the porch steps of the shack. “I’ve got to set the kettle to boil for tea,” she spoke aloud even though there was no one to hear but the critters and the gators.
The sturdy boat eased smoothly to the small dock by the shack and a man jumped out to deftly catch it while securing a line to a post with quick skill born of long practice. He straightened gazing up to the hurricane lantern silhouetted in the window in anticipation and excitement. “Ma-ma? It’s me, Thibault! Don’t shoot!” he laughed as his wife’s eyes flew wide in alarm until he explained the joke about his mother’s considerable skill with a pistol.
The story was told about a time when she had put a bullet through a man’s ear during an argument. The joke within the story revolved around whether or not she had missed. The woman in the boat carefully passed Thibault the infant she held wrapped in a blanket and he helped her to the dock. “Ma-ma, I’ve brought someone who would like to meet you!” Arm in arm, the young couple walked to the edge of the porch as the screen door flew open and Ma-ma Boudreaux rushed out.
“Thibault! Come in, come in! I’m so glad to see you! I have felt the water telling me all day that kin was coming! But, wait . . . who is this beautiful girl and this sleeping babe?” she asked in her lilting Cajun accent.
“Ma-ma, may I present to you my wife, Claire, and my son!” Thibault said beaming with pride.
Ma-ma Boudreaux crooned to the young woman holding the child in her arms as she gazed into her eyes, “Oh, oh, let me look at you. Such a beauty! You’re a beautiful girl. Oh, Thibault, you’ve brought home a beauty! And she has given you a son? Praise the almighty, the Boudreaux name lives on. What name have you given this man-child, Thibault?
“We have named him Jamie Thibault Boudreaux, Ma-ma. But, would you christen him for us and give us your blessing?”
“Me? Why yes, yes of course I will, Thibault. It is only right and proper that Cajun blood be christened with the water here on the bayou just as you were.”
Ma-ma Boudreaux asked Thibault to pour a little water from the kettle into a bowl to cool as Claire folded the blanket back from the sleeping infant and passed him carefully to his grandmother’s arms. As she held him up to see his face in the light of the lantern, the wind blew through the Spanish moss hanging in curtains from the cypress trees. Ma-ma Boudreaux gazed into the shining expectant faces of her son and his new wife at his side in the flickering light of the coal-oil lantern and remembering when her own husband, strong Andre was still alive with his dark eyes shining and she stood close by his side. Her eyes glistened from the memory as she dipped her hand into the warm water and placed her fingertips gently on the forehead of the sleeping infant.
Bowing her head, she began, “I, Adrienne Xavier Boudreaux ask this blessing with the water. Father God, please bless this little dear one and keep him safe through fair and foul.