Saturday, January 11, 2014


He wasn't a beer drinker.  But he loved a good commercial and in the past couple of years, he'd spent more time accruing a file of 30 second spots that peaked his interest.  From his teenage years, he had  been fascinated by products and sales, influenced by two glamorous older sisters and their love of fashion and life, during and after the war.

Four years ago today, after his doctor's appointment, he wanted an Oyster Po-Boy and a Bud-Light.  At the time, we all got a kick out of the request which he said was fueled by all the beer commercials during the NFL play-off games he watched with my mother.  She was the football fanatic and he just went along for the fun.

The birthday feast began when I picked them up in a parking lot.  I didn't even have a present because Christmas had just ended but I did run and get a card.  And he said his new Christmas Charcoal merino wool vest was so nice it could count for birthday too.  And he was wearing it for his birthday, number 76.

The oyster po-boy was okay but he said he'd never get another Bud-Light again.  He didn't.  It was a bright but very cold January day when I took them back to their car.  We got out and exchanged hugs.  We had enjoyed a brief but fun lunch, talking about commercials and such.  And three days later, he left us in a quick and peaceful ending.

I wrote this piece on my first Father's Day without him.   Thank you for indulging me this happy birthday tribute to my beloved Daddy.

Photo by my brother-in-law, James Bingaman

My Daddy was born in a log cabin and started school in a one room school house. He moved to the "city" in the 3rd grade and went to school barefoot the first day but not the second day. City folks wore their shoes year round. He graduated from the University of Texas. As a senior project, he developed the Raid Bug Commercial - Raid, Kills Bugs Dead! A professor snatched it up. He married my mother! Then the young man from a land locked state almost immediately began Naval Officers Candidate School where he jumped off the side of a ship and thankfully passed Astronomy. His naval career sent him to Morocco, where my parents lived for two years, traveling Europe on vacations in a red VW Bug. I grew up knowing about minarets, veiled women, cos cos, and mirages in the desert. They sailed back to America on the U.S.N.S William O. Darby (General born in Fort Smith). Texas called their name and that's the country of my origin. Texas O' Texas. We saw much of the U.S. on camping vacations. We always had a "vacation song." One year it was the Carpenters "Close to You." Another year, Paul McCartney and Wings "Hands Across the Water." He loved all kinds of music and liked to play the piano in a very grand manner. He sung in the church choir almost all of his life, faithfully. "The Majesty and Glory" was his favorite and I cannot sing it anymore. Someday. He carried the Prayer of St. Francis in his wallet and a New Testament in his briefcase. He was a talented whistler and a random clapper ahead of his time.  He loved to sing around the house. He worked hard in the retail world and knew his store and every product. He was fun to shop with! He was faithful to The Store and took care of his employees, ferrying little old sales ladies home on icy roads. He could do a mashed potato dance that made mean mashed potatoes. He loved butter. He taught us the Golden Rule in a time of great racial unrest. He kicked his house shoes down the hall just to make little girls laugh. His daughters were his joy. His wife was his best friend. His loved being a Granddaddy. Even when he was sick, he made lemon meringue pies to take to "shut-ins".  He defied all odds and lived through surgeries that gave us 13 more years. He always tried to look at the positive side or a new direction when facing difficulty. He was the baby of the family and the favorite cousin. He wasn't perfect. I called him nozella due to his penchant for picking up mail or receipts at my house. He was the designated shrimp police for the wedding reception. He could get on my last nerve when I was a teenager but he encouraged me in every endeavor. There are endless little things I could tell you. This is my father's day tribute. He rests a few miles from where he started out but I hear him singing "Alleluia, alleluia, the majesty and glory of Your Name."


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