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