Wednesday, October 6, 2010

You Will Be Tested..... Trust Me On That.....

There comes a time in each one's life when we are put to big test. I am not talking about being annoyed with some of the daily nuances that we encounter, but rather a few large tests that will determine much about our faith and resolve. Times when we are really pushed to our limits, when you actually think for a moment that you can not and do not have the power to pull yourself together and face this moment, that you are emotionally pushed to the brink of quitting. Are any bells being tolled for you?
It could be from a death of a parent, spouse or child, or the loss of a job that has you wondering how you will make ends meet when others are depending on you to be strong. The times when you are faced with hurt feelings from someone who you thought was close to you, or maybe feeling despair in your life for being treated poorly by those same folks.
As hard as it is to keep the faith during these situations, you must just do exactly that. I wonder how my mother was able to handle what was cast upon her shoulders during WWII, from the hands of the pure evil of Nazi Germany. Witnessing the effects of her father being ravaged and brutally beaten, helplessly watching as he died. Losing any resemblance of her once happy life, being caught up in the hell of the Labor and Concentration Camps, and finally being separated from her loving mother, the only person she had left, last seeing her on the morning of her sixteenth birthday. How did she overcome being distraught, the pain and terrible memories of that traumatic time in her life? She simply forgave those that did her so wrong. She put her faith in God Almighty and he helped her realize that would be all she would ever need to do. How sweet is that!
The next time you face a defining moment in your walk through life, remember this simple message, Forgive those who trespass against you, and forgive from the heart. God will take care of the rest for you!
Love John

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Walk In My Shoes........

I decided to get back to posting on my Blog after taking a couple of months reprieve. I just could not find the will to write after I lost my dad earlier this year. Having Henry live with us for the last few years of his life was a blessing that God allowed me and my wife to share in. I started this Blog for one specific reason, and that was to bestow honor on my mother and to share some stories about what she had experienced, the way she approached her life and the never ending love she had for her family. Tonight I write about her manner of dealing with her sense of intelligence.
I have come to learn much about my mom since her death, it's strange how memories and understanding can open entire new views on a person. Nonna was very smart, I will say much smarter than most of us, but she understood that she had to attach kindness when dealing with others. Perhaps she was just gifted at an early age, after all, she could read and write in five languages by the time she was nine years old. It could have been genetic or the fact that her parents went out of their way to educate her, either way, she had many gifts. Once I had gotten older and realized a little about my mom, I began to see the fact that she was one smart lady. One thing that I can say, is that she never made other people feel "dumber" than her, even when it was apparent. She was special that way and as I remember her words of encouragement and promise, along with just listening to what someone had to say, I often wonder what she may have been thinking. How did she always find a way to make you feel important and cared for?
I can think of few exceptions to this principle that she lived by. As she had seen so much in her life and dealt with many situations, you had better not mess with her loved ones! During the last years of her life, she was very sick, and I witnessed her will to survive really kick in. She was in the Hospital and was being treated by numerous Doctors, one of the nice gents decided to have a Phycologist stop by and evaluate her. Not only was she hurt by this thought, she got angry, one of the only times I have seen her get this way. Pity the poor soul, because she started playing mind games with him, and let it drag out for a few days. I witnessed his visit on one occasion and actually was sorry for him. She finally must have tired of this and let him off of the hook, explaining that she was not mentally challenged, just in severe pain. He left, never to come back, and she looked at me with a smile and said, I bet I won't see him again! I had to laugh a little as mom settled back into her bed.
My mother showed me that the most intelligent people on earth are the ones who don't have to try and prove it, and that, my friend, is a very valuable lesson to remember!
Love John

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

I'm Feeling A Little Depressed.....

I started off this day feeling a little depressed, when on my way to work I passed a bad wreck. As they were working to free a trapped person, I was thankful it was not me. Then I stopped at an intersection and saw a man sleeping under the bridge with a canvas bag that held his worldly possessions, and I started feeling a little better. Then I passed a hospital that was full of sick people and I thought, I'm glad I was not in there. I then passed a billboard that had a picture of starving children who are waiting on something to eat, poor things were malnourished and crying. As I adjusted my sunglasses, I drove by a happy looking blind man being led by a seeing eye dog, and wondered what on earth he had to smile about. Then, as I turned my air up a little, I passed someone who was changing a flat tire, and man, the sweat was pouring off of them. I then started to straighten my new silk tie and, wouldn't ya know it, I drove past the Goodwill Store. Some lady was going in with her kids and I thought, poor soul. I was almost at my office, when I passed the Courthouse and saw a couple fighting about something and their little girl was crying for them to stop. I thought about another broken family. All of a sudden I had a deep thought..... I was a lucky man! I woke up this morning and could hear the alarm clock, and I could see it was 4:30 A.M. I washed my face with hot water and fixed me a cup of coffee and looked in my refrigerator, and I had food to eat. I dressed in clean clothes and went to my car, that was running fine and had gas. I then drove to my job and remembered how blessed I am to be able to work. I thought about having a loving wife who cares for me and a nice home. That's when it hit me!! I had no reason to feel depressed about my problems, for they pale in comparison to what many other people are dealing with today!! All of a sudden, I decided to make the most of this day I have been given and to never look back!! What about you?

Love John

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Get To Know Henry........

Here's a chance to get to know Henry Bannister and learn why he was such a special man.
Born William Henry Bannister on October 31st, 1927 in Bogalusa, La. Henry was a child during the depression and had a tough childhood, but most people in those times had to do without. Being in the country, the family grew their own food and made do on hard work and love. This set the stage for the kind of man Henry was to become. He graduated from Bogalusa High School in 1944 and joined the Navy, serving as a Corpsman aboard the USS Okanogan, a troop transport ship. Henry left the Navy in 1948 to pursue his Education at LSU. He roomed in the Football Stadium Complex and had great memories of his Tigers. Henry's second cousin, Charlie McClendon, was the Coach at LSU for many years. Henry loved " Cholly Mac" as he was affectionately called. Henry met the love of his life, Nonna, in 1950 and they were married on June 23rd 1951. While going to college, he worked at a Grocery Store and at a Funeral Home. He had many stories to share about those days.
They began their family in 1953 with the birth of William Henry Jr. and bought their first home for 8,000.00. Elizabeth was born in 1957 and John in 1959, so Henry built a bigger home on Winbourne Avenue in Baton Rouge,La. He laughed later that he paid almost 16,000.00 to build that house, a lot of money in those days. He worked the gates at Tiger games and made 20.00 per game, which bought quite a bit of groceries. Henry went to work for H.J. Heinz Company and was promoted several times during his career with them. He transferred to Houston, Tx in 1971, then to Memphis, Tn. in 1978.
Tennessee was a good move for Henry and Nonna and they enjoyed many happy years together. Nonna loved to cook and we all loved to eat, and fresh vegetables were plentiful in Tennessee. Henry's favorite hobby was fishing, which he would try to do often. He loved the sport and found solice in being on the water with his boys.
When Nonna finally told Henry about her past and when he saw all that she had saved, he took it upon himself to spend years compiling Nonna's life into a manual form. The culmination of this effort came to fruition when her Memoirs were published into a book in 2009. Henry was determined to see this happen as his way of honoring his wife and keeping her memories alive. He stated that once the book was done, he felt that his life's work was over.
One word comes to my mind when I think of my dad over his life, and that word is CONSISTENCY. He could be counted on to maintain his word, to work hard at his job and to love his family with all of his might. Henry also made a lot of sacrifices through the years, both for his family and his friends. He was loved and respected by all who encountered his smiling face.
I have heard from over 100 people since his death yesterday, and these words are repeated over and over. Soft spoken, kind, soothing, smart, helpful, loving, dedicated, inspirational, high moral fiber, honest, funny, charming, a true gentleman, one of a kind, a good man and on and on.
I will miss my dad as a father and a friend. I will miss his insite and advice. I will miss his charm and charisma and I will miss taking care of him as he aged so gracefully. Yes, dad, you have left a huge hole in my life, but I will go on as you would want me to. I will carry your good name with me for all the days that I live, and I am PROUD of you and how you lived your life!
Until we meet again, I Love You!!!
Love John

Monday, May 10, 2010

How To Be A Good Man.........

The trumpets have sounded as my father, Henry Bannister, went to his heavenly home this morning. He will be missed by all those who loved and knew him. Henry made his path through life for almost 83 years and he taught some valuable lessons to many along his journey. One need not just listen to what Henry said, but simply watch his actions to learn about living a life the correct way. The good Lord has gained a true jewel of a person on this day and I am excited that Henry and Nonna are back together, along with all of his other loved ones that had gone before.

My father was many things to many people along the way, but one can be assured that he was consistent in all that he did. He was a strong man of faith, having learned about God as a child, and never forgetting what he was taught. When faced with a choice, Henry always went with the high ground, choosing what was moral and right. He was a great son, Husband, father, Uncle and friend to those who crossed his path. He was extremely kindhearted and gentle and was most considerate of others feelings.

Henry had a special way of soothing people with his demeanor, voice and smile. It must have been hard for anyone to not be drawn to him because of those qualities. I grew up admiring my father because he was a man whom I knew had the respect of others and I have spent my entire adulthood striving to be that type of man myself. I remember that hearing others call out to Henry and come up and shake his hand, that my dad was well liked and as I grew older, I realized that he was also very highly respected. He told me many times that a man's reputation will follow him, whether good or bad, so be careful to always keep your word, work hard and honest and to be aware of other people's feelings. This is how Henry lived his life and he can be proud of the fact that we will carry on with dear memories of him.

May God Bless Henry!!

Love John

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bitterness... A Hard Pill To Swallow.....

As I walk through this life and deal with different people, I am still confused when I run into or interact with ones who are bitter. I have to wonder what makes them come across in this manner. Are they harboring resentment towards anyone or anything in particular or are there deeper wounds that are ingrained inside that push towards the surface and can not be stopped? Are they upset because they believe they have not received a fair shake in life and deserve more? Do they justify showing others how miserable they must feel as they lash out at the world?

I do not know the answers to the above questions, but I do believe the following. We make our own beds in life and we have the choice of how we react to things that occur. Many of those are simply circumstantial and happen on a regular basis. Most of the time it is due to our own choices that we have made, so why be bitter? We should not think that we deserve anything other than what we work for and do ourselves. Anything else that comes our way should be considered a gift. That's right, You don't deserve anything!

Do you think that Nonna had plenty of times that she could have been bitter? Of course she could have, but she made the choice to look at the positive side. Do you believe that Henry had many of the same opportunities to relish and wallow in self pity and feel bitter? Of course he could have, but he knew that would only be hurting himself. I learned many lessons from my parents, and one of my most prized stickem points is to love yourself first and it will be much easier to love others. I am not saying to think of yourself first, but just the opposite. Try to live your life so that people will think highly of you when you can not hear what they are saying. This is how Henry has lived his life and I will continue to strive to be like him.

Remember this, if you are bitter about things in your life, it's a hard pill to swallow and you are the one who has to do the swallowing.

Love John

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Little About Henry....

As I write this tonight, my father Henry, is in the fight of his life. He is very sick and in Intensive Care and is really doing his best to survive. This man has had a great and long life and he is aware of that. I have had the true pleasure of being with him almost everyday for the last several years, being his son, friend and caretaker. What a joy he has been and I am very thankful that I had this time. I have also had the chance to talk about what happens next for him as he struggled with being ill. He was very clear what his beliefs and wishes were and that he was comfortable in his faith if he was called home. Henry has earned the right to maintain his dignity and to know that he is loved by his family, and he deserves to be comfortable if this turns out to be his time.
What I know is that Henry Bannister has lived the way a man should for a lifetime. He was a wonderful son, a caring and loving husband for fifty-three years and fifty-three days. He raised three children and is a supportive and teaching father right up until today. He is loved and adored by his grandchildren, nieces and nephews. He is admired by people he has worked with and known for many years. He has lived his life the correct way, from his work ethic and his compassion and caring way he has handled problems that he has faced.
My father taught me years ago that a man's reputation will follow him, whether it is good or bad, and to be careful how you carry yourself through life and always treat others with the respect and integrity that you want to be treated yourself. He taught me that doing the right thing and not looking for the easy way was the best policy. He taught me that I should pour my passion into whatever I was attempting and to always give my all. Dad, I have tried my best to live my life as you have taught me to and you were a wonderful example to follow. For this I can thank you and tell you that your advice was solid, and although things in society change, the basic lessons of life are the same.
Tonight I pray for you to have peace and to do your best to recover, but I also say that if you can't make it, it's okay, you have earned the rest. You are loved by many and are a very special man! I love You!
Love John

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Life's Not Always A Dance.....

“People grow old only by deserting their ideals, Macarthur had written. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up interest wrinkles the soul. You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope as old as your despair. In the central place of every heart there is a recording chamber. So long as it receives messages of beauty, hope, cheer and courage, so long are you young. When your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then, and then only, are you grown old. And then, indeed as the ballad says, you just fade away.”
Douglas MacArthur
The above quote may very well state the secret to never aging. Sure, our bodies change and begin to wear out as we get older, but if we are lucky, our minds can carry us for a long time if we have the right attitude. I stood by my mother right up until her days on Earth were over, at least from a physical standpoint. Her memories I choose to keep going as long as I live. The end was hard, I would say the hardest thing I have yet faced, but her number one concern was who would take care of her beloved Henry. I reassured her that he would be fine and I would see to his care as he aged. It does require a sacrifice by me and my wife, with some adjustment to the freedoms of being an empty-nester, but when your father is cut from the cloth that Henry is, you find ways to make it all work. For some people, out of sight, out of mind is how they choose to deal with aging parents and loved ones. After all, everybody is so busy working and living their daily lives, who can blame them. Others just can't deal with the emotional stress that goes with the territory and it is easier to find a "place" for them to be cared for. I am not chastising that choice at all, and many choose to cross that bridge. Life's not always a dance.
I choose to get the most out of my father as I can while he's around. I choose to show him honor, the honor he has earned by living a good life. He has so much wisdom and knowledge that his 82 years have taught him, yet to share. I tend to think about what adjustments he has had to endure, and endure with mostly a smile on his face. I wonder what he thinks about when he is quite, is he reflecting on Nonna and their 53 years together? Does he worry about his children, that have reached middle age? Do his days seem ten times longer than mine do because he does not have much to do? Only he can answer these questions and as is most often the case, older people don't always open up about their thoughts. What I do know is that my job is to make him as comfortable and provided for as I can, and I would not treat him any other way.
Yes, it's true that life's not always a dance, but when you still have hope, love and something to live for, it continues onward. Be sweet to those who brought you into this world, heck, treat them like you treat your friends!
Love John

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Where Is The Needle On Your Compassion Meter?

I this photo Nonna was recovering from Rheumatic Fever while in the hospital in Germany. The girl sitting next to her would spend time reading and visiting with Nonna for hours upon hours. She stumbled upon my mom one day and found out a little of what she had endured and that she was all alone. Something deep inside of her was triggered to be willing to do this for Nonna. It would have been much easier for her to say hello and move on about her business, as I am sure that she had other things she could have been doing instead. She was young and attractive, the war had ended and everybody was going about rebuilding and starting new lives. Why take her free time and spend it with someone who she had not known, who had never been her friend and who was from another country? What was it about Nonna that attracted her?

I will tell you that she was full of kindness and had a deep hearted compassion for her fellow human beings. If she had not directly witnessed those atrocities, she surely had heard all about the evil that was done. She decided to care and be a friend to my mother, to spend time with her and lend her support in any way that she could. What a wonderful way to show God that you love him by caring for others. She had to put Nonna ahead of herself, which is true sacrifice, the real meaning of love.

My dad, Henry, has been in the hospital for the last week, having trouble with his Esophagus. As I was leaving late yesterday evening, I noticed a man pushing a small girl in a wheelchair across the parking lot. I guessed that she had MS or some other issue and they had been to physical therapy. I sat in my car and watched as he stopped at his car, opened his trunk, then opened the back door. He picked her up and struggled to place her in a car seat and strap her down, then took a deep breath and went to the trunk and folded up the wheelchair and placed it securely in the car. I immediately thought of what sacrifices this man must be going through for his daughter and I started to get a little teary eyed, not because I felt sorry for him, but because he was showing me his love and dedication and compassion, without knowing anyone was watching him. That, my friend, had an affect on my heart and showed me that my Compassion Meter was working fine.

No matter what we deal with, all the problems and stress that we each face, someone else is carrying a burden much heavier than us. The good news is that God will not give us more than we can handle, but we have to walk with faith to understand that this is true. Where is the needle on your Compassion Meter?

Love John

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Lest We Forget...........

Lest We Forget.... Sixty Five years ago today at 3:15 P.M. the prisoner took control of Buchenwald Concentration Camp from their torcherers. The clock on the main Guard building stopped and even now shows that exact time. Many of the Guards, realizing the end was near, fled into the woods in an attempt to flee. When the American Soldiers arrived a short time later, they were sickened and in disbelief as to what their eyes were showing to them. A day or two after the camps liberation, Harry Snodgrass, a twenty three year old soldier from Tennessee, was given a tour of the camp by a Lithuanian prisoner who could speak broken English. Snodgrass recalled " I went into the commanders office and there were lampshades made from the skins of Jews. Near the Crematorium, they used the ashes of prisoners to fertilize the fields- the ashes of dead people. After an hour, it just became too much- I was stunned, just stunned. We don't even treat dogs like that."
UNTERMENSCH- The German word that means inferior people of poor quality and of little importance, value or merit.... SUBHUMAN! That's right, the Nazi's had that mindset about both Jews and other races that were not Aryan.
To any living survivors that have not shared what happened to them, I tell you that NOW IS THE TIME. Nonna realized that she was getting old and her health was failing and she owed it to her husband, children and the rest of the world to share her stories. Not for any self gain, but so that the world would know and remember that evil must be stopped, that this dark period of mankind should never be allowed to fade away. She knew that History has a way of repeating itself. Was it easy for her to get these horrors out of her soul? NO. It was the hardest thing she had ever done, but she felt obligated to share them so that they would never again occur.
Hitler was defeated and deniers today must also be defeated. It takes courage to face evil head on, but you must find a way to tell us while you still can, Lest We Forget.
Love John

Friday, April 2, 2010

Are You Washed In The Blood?.........

My mother was the strongest person I have ever known. Her will to go onward and do whatever it took to move ahead was evident no matter what adversity was facing her. She had survived an enemy that millions could not overcome. She had beaten the odds and managed to make it to America, the dream that her father had for her. She found her own way to put terrible memories out of her mind and make a new, happy life for, not only herself, but for her entire American family. She overcame poor health conditions several times in her life and would bounce back more determined than ever before to live on.
During WWII Nonna lost almost everything and everybody that she cared for. Her Father was beaten severely by The Nazi's and died in her arms. She was removed from her homeland, never to see it as long as she lived. Her brother, grandmother and entire family left scattered like straw in the wind. Her Mother was taken away on Nonna's sixteenth birthday and placed in The Concentration Camps and she was never to see her again. Even Nonna's name was changed for a period of time to Lena Schultz. All of this occured at the hands of Hitler, Stalin and their henchmen. Earlier I said that Nonna lost almost everybody and everything that she cared for. There were two things that she would not lose. The first was her dignity. Her father had taught her at an early age that no matter what happens to you in life, never lose your kind spirit and inner strength that you are made of. Always carry yourself with dignity, no matter how ugly things get. Nonna learned that lesson and passed it down to her children, for that we are blessed. The second thing that Nonna could not lose was her Soul. You see, her Soul was given to the Lamb of God at an early age, and Jesus had a firm grasp on that Soul, and no one, not even Hitler could take it away from those hands.
I'm not going to preach here, but I will state a fact that I am 100% sure of. If someone came into your life today and told you that they would take care of every bill and debt that you had, no matter how old or how much you owed, how would you feel? That's right, you would forever have total financial security and never want or need anything. Do you think that you would have a Peace come over you? I will tell you that your most ugliest debt has already been taken care of by an innocent Lamb, all of your debts have been washed away by the blood of that Lamb. That Lamb is Jesus Christ and all he asks from us is that we believe with all our hearts that the debts are gone. Nonna had faith in God to see her through the darkest of hours known to mankind, and believe me, she would never have made it without that faith. So, my friends, I have a simple question to ask and that is Are You Washed In The Blood Of The Lamb?
Happy Easter
Love John

Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Mother Was Special......

As I awoke this morning to celebrate my day of birth, my thoughts went to my loving mother. This was a special day for her too. She always had a way of making a big deal out of her children's birthday and did a little bit extra to let us know that we were special and loved.
One year I somehow got a little anxious to have my birthday and I "pushed " the date up by one week. My mother did not know that I made invitations and hand delivered them to all the neighborhood kids for a birthday party. I came up with the idea that if I invited my friends on short notice, the moms would not have time to buy gifts. Well, you realize that children hate to miss a party, so the mothers would have to send them with money instead. What a plan I had come up with as I went door to door inviting my friends to a birthday party that was to happen at 2:00 that day, and since it was already after 12:00, I was sure I would get money from them!
When I got home and told my mom that my friends were coming over at 2:00 for my birthday party, she said " JOHN, you're birthday isn't until next week!" " What have you done to your poor mother?" My mother had to drop what she was doing and go buy a cake and get ready for my party, which she did without saying anything else. I think she found it so funny that her son would pull something like this that she wanted to see the results for herself! Well, at 2:00 on the nose, I had over 20 kids on my patio having cake and Ice Cream. My plan worked to perfection, as most of my friends gave me money.
That was the first year that my mom had to buy a cake instead of making it herself and she reminded me of that day many times. I have had 40 special days since then, but I will always remember my mom for being willing to help me out of the mess I had created that year.
Nonna was always willing to sacrifice for her children and she made sure we knew that we were loved and cared for. As I look back on my life, I can say that I am very thankful and feel blessed to have had the kind of parents that I had and I know that all people have not been as lucky as I.
If your mother is still with you, give her a big hug today and let her know what she means to you. If she is away from you, call her and tell her that you love her. If your mother is walking with Angels, be at peace knowing that she is smiling down upon you!
Love John

Sunday, March 21, 2010

You Can Hear More Than You Can Ever See.....

As I awoke to a beautiful Spring morning here in Florida, I decided it would be a good day to take my dad, Henry, out for a car ride. When you move to a new area, there is so many places to explore and see for the first time. The best way to learn about new surroundings is to take a ride and with sunny skies and mid 70's, the road was calling me. So I loaded up Henry and the camera and headed down Highway 13 South. Highway 13 runs along the St. John's River and takes you out to the country. Lots of Live Oaks with Spanish Moss mixed in with woods, Palm trees, swamp land, horse farms and farming. With windows down and driving below the speed limit, I was seeing a lot of great picture opportunities. Often passing by, only to make a U-turn and go back, pull off the road and take pictures. Henry has lost most of his eyesight, so I would point out things to him and tell him what everything looked like as we drove. We came to a spot next to the river called Bass Haven, and I pulled over and we sat there for a few minutes, just enjoying the fresh air and sounds. That's when Henry said something that really sank in deep. He said, " Son, did you realize that you can hear a lot more than you can ever see?" I thought, well, he has done it again! Words of wisdom that can be applied much deeper than just sensory abilities. Henry continued, " If you will listen to others the same way you listen to the birds singing, you will become a wise man" " The sounds of nature truly can speak to you, but you don't listen to them completely until you can't see them anymore" " When I hear sounds of water lapping at the shore or the wind blowing in the trees or the chirping of birds, it can take me back to specific moments in my past that seem as fresh as yesterday"

I sat there for a few silent moments, maybe a minute or so, to let what he was saying sink in. Then we headed down the road again in quietness for the next couple of miles. I would stop every few miles and pull over so that Henry would get the most out of our trip.

I believe that life can be a lot like a ride in the country. You can stop along the way and absorb your surroundings or you can speed past everything and miss out on the little things along the way. The birds singing may be your friends and the water lapping lazily may be your hobbies and the breeze in the trees may be you showing that you are considerate of others. I encourage you to slow down and take the ride in the country as you go through your life. You can truly hear a lot more than you can ever see!!

Love John

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What Happens After You Reach Your Pinnacle?

I met a man a few years ago that was speaking about his achievement of making it to the top of Mount Everest. He detailed the risk and dangers that his group went through, failing the first two attempts and finally reaching the pinnacle. The pain and remorse that was felt by coming so close, only to be forced to turn back. The time it took to plan another expedition and the cost involved to reach a goal only a few had achieved before. A goal that had cost many people their health and some the ultimate sacrifice, their lives. I went down to the front of the auditorium once he had finished his talk and got the opportunity to ask him a few questions. The first thing I wanted to know was would he plan another climb, and he said "no", which surprised me a bit. When I asked him why not, here's what he said.
" I have had one main goal in life since I was a kid, and that was to climb Mount Everest. I am only in my mid thirties and now that I have accomplished this feat, I struggle each morning with the idea of what will I set as a goal next" It's kind of hard to top climbing that monster. I am reaching deep inside to find another way to find satisfaction in my life, but I struggle with this"
I just had to let what he said sink in and I thought about it for a few weeks. I never have looked at success and failure the same way again. When you have a goal and you fall short, you still can try again and again, learning from mistakes and finding a way to victory. Once you have made it to the top, what comes next?
The answer is that you must have new goals and aspirations to reach out for. You must open your mind up to new things or you will just be going through the motions. That, my friend, is no way to find happiness.
My mother's goal after Germany fell, was to make it to America, which she did. The hard part for her was to keep on dreaming and setting new pinnacle's to reach for, otherwise, it would have been hard for her to find happiness. Happiness is a state of mind that each person must choose themselves. A great way to start this process is to have definite goals that you want to strive towards, and failure along the way is to be expected, as long as you pick yourself up and keep moving on.
Are you cheating yourself out of the chance to fall because you are afraid to reach for your pinnacle? Failure makes the taste of victory very sweet, but you have to have aspirations in order to know when you have reached the top.
I hope that you reach that pinnacle and enjoy the ride!!
Love John

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Real Treat as Henry Writes A few Words...

I sat down with my dad, Henry, this morning and asked him to share his thoughts on Nonna's book and what has been a very personal experience for him. Here's a few words from Henry:
When I first learned the scope of Nonna's past and all that she had been through, I felt it was important that she write it all down, so that her children first and then the rest of the world, would know her story. After her death in 2004, I set out to find a way for her story to be told, and with God's guidance and me moving to Jackson, Tn. I was able to meet Carolyn Tomlin, a writer and neighbor, who started the wheels in motion to have Nonna's story told.
I thank God everyday that a quality publisher such as Tyndale House would see the value and worth of what Nonna had written, and make my wish come true by publishing her work. It has been almost one year since her book was released and soon we will have a paperback edition as well as foreign editions. I am humbled and amazed, although not surprised, that things are moving so quickly.
I feel honored that her book is beginning to attract worldwide attention and that it is being nominated for awards less than one year after being released. It makes the more than fifty-three years I was married to Nonna come full circle. Her Legacy will live on, hopefully for many generations to come. I guess you could call me a Happy Old Man, because even at 82 years old, dreams do come true.
May God Bless you as he has blessed me,
Henry Bannister

Friday, February 19, 2010

Nonna Bannister Nominated For An Audie Award...

This spring holds many exciting things for my mother's book. A German Edition was just released, which will make her life story available to the very people that Hitler took advantage of. This will no doubt allow them to see just how forgiveness can lead to healing.
A soft cover Edition is to be released in March by Tyndale House Publishers, which will place Nonna's work in many different outlets, allowing thousands more people to find out about her life. This Edition will also open a lot of doors in educational circles, allowing more students to study her book and the Holocaust from a different perspective. A Norwegian Edition is in the works and will be out later in the year.
The most exciting news comes from The Audio Publishers Association. APA has announced nominations for its 2010 Audies competition, the only Awards program in the United States devoted entirely to honoring spoken word entertainment. Winners will be announced at The Audies Gala on May 25th 2010 at The Museum of The City of New York in New York City. There were 1056 entries submitted for the awards and a panel of judges selected the finalists. The Secret Holocaust Diaries was selected in the two categories listed below.
*Anne Frank Remembered
*The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Nonna Bannister
*The Golden Willow by Harry Bernstein
*True Compass by Ted Kennedy
*Valkyrie/ The plot to kill Hitler
Inspirational/ Faith-Based Non Fiction
*The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
*Lord of the Ringless by Dee Aspin
*The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Nonna Bannister
*What Southern Women Know About Faith by Rhona Rich
*The Word Of Promise Audio Bible by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
What a wonderful achievement for Nonna and all that she lived to tell about and I know she would have been humbled that she was noticed in this manner. Nonna was such a sweet person who never had unkind things to say about anyone and whose heart was sincere. Good luck mama, we are so proud of you and we love and miss you more every day!!
Love John

Monday, February 1, 2010

It's The Little Things That Matter The Most....

When I remember my mother, it is the small things that she did that come to my mind first. The way she could make you laugh with such ease or the special words she could say that gave something a different twist. The kind things that she would go a little bit out of her way to do for others or just enjoying watching a TV show with her. Nonna had a way about her that put you at ease, always making sure you were comfortable and felt at home in her presence. This was who she was, after all that she had experienced in her life, she knew what was important to convey to others and that was to take care of the little things and the good Lord will take care of the rest.
Nonna was very wise to understand that people would remember the little things she did for them years after they would forget about any success or possession that she called her own. She walked this path her entire life and most who knew her will tell you the small stories of their time with Nonna and what an impression she left in their lives. People will forget how fancy your clothes were, how nice your car was and most of what you accomplish for personal gain. They will remember the talks you had with them and the time that you made them feel special and cared for.
As you work towards having a good life, never forget that the people who care about you the most, don't care what kind of car you drive or what job title that you hold. These things are best left to the "Jones's" around your life and you should never focus on that. Do you think for one second that after you have gone on, that your friends will remember what possessions you had? If this is what drives your search for happiness, just lose your status and watch how fast these so called friends will avoid you.
It's the little things that you do that will draw on the warmest of memories, and that my friend, is the cold hard truth!! You are more important for what you give to others rather than what you gather along the way, so, go do a little "nice" for someone who means something to you and do it soon and do it often.
Love John

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Challenge...What Are You Looking Forward To?

There is no better feeling than that of accomplishment. When you put in effort to reach a goal and you make it, or you tackle a task that needs doing, the victory comes when it gets done. I ask you if you have put any thoughts towards what you would like to get done this new year?
In 1945, when The Nazi's were finally defeated, my mother had much reason to stop living. After seeking information about her mother's outcome for over 2 years, she knew that it was time to move on and make a life for herself. This was not easy for her to do, but she had to pull up her bootstraps and forge ahead. Her first goal was to get an education as a Nurse and work towards coming to America, the dream her papa had for the entire family. Only Nonna was able to fulfill her papa's dream and she made his wish a reality by taking one step at a time. Nonna knew that it was important to have something to look forward to, to have specific plans that you want to accomplish, no matter how large or small they were. I have learned that it is vital to your soul and mind that you set aside at least two things that you want to look forward to that are just for you. They do not have to be big plans, but pick something that you want to achieve that is only for yourself. It can include doing something for someone else or to give your talents to a cause that means something to you. It may be a vacation or trip that you want to take, or to start a new hobby that you have wanted to do for some time.
Whatever you decide to focus on, make a commitment to yourself that you will make it happen. When the year comes to an end and you look back, you will feel good that you accomplished what was set forth and that will give more meaning to your life. Be blessed this new year and may you have a wonderful time living life.
Love John