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Without my dear Perry

As is so often the custom at this time of year, at least if one buys into the general idea behind Thanksgiving, I have found myself taking stock of my life and its small wonders, for which I am eternally grateful.
Tuesday morning, while I was working on compacted deadlines to earn myself a holiday off work this Thursday, my great uncle Perry Brandao died.

I hadn’t thought about him much in recent weeks — he drove up from Baton Rouge, La., to visit my family in Shreveport, La., a few months back and we had a good conversation over the phone since work kept me from making a trip home to see him. But since then, I’d been focused on the trials and tribulations of Ennis life.When my father told me what had happened, I said out loud “I’m glad he saw my wedding.”

Knowing he was there when I married my wife seems to add a sense of completeness to our relationship, like he was there to see me passed into the hands of a capable supporter because he wasn’t long for this world.

He was one of the reasons, albeit one among many, that I am doing what I do for a living now.

Perry was a strange person in the best ways you can imagine. I remember having a few Exxon Mobil pens in my Trapper Keeper in elementary school because of his connection to that company from years past, but he was always the teacher and academic when I built my relationship with him. He was one of the men who showed deep appreciation for the simplest of intellectual expression and intelligent conversation.

He was doing the “Headlines” bit for us at home in Louisiana long before Jay Leno got ahold of it and put his signature chin on it, so to speak. He had a distinctly raunchy eye when it came to reading newspapers, and if he hadn’t been such a success in other areas of his life, would have made a fantastic copy editor. His appreciation of the news was endless. My family always had a subscription to The Shreveport Times, and my father and Perry would send each other the “best” of what they could find in the local papers and share a laugh.

That little game was one of many little blocks that went into the building of my newspaper career. It was a small, almost subliminal kind of imprint that drew me into writing as I grew up and discovered my voice.

When he found out I was going to be a newspaperman, he was thrilled. Saddened, of course, at the same time, because it is a demanding lifestyle that draws us away from our families during the times most are gathering together to share their love, but he was always supportive. He followed my work when he could and when he told me I’d become a good writer, it meant more to me than almost anyone else.

He had a thing for golf balls, which he’d gather on walks near the golf course around Louisiana State University campus (where he taught) in Baton Rouge. I remember one in particular, a ball he claimed had been sliced in half by a roving lawn mower, very vividly.

Don’t ask me why.

I’ll miss him, but I’m thankful I had him in my life. Otherwise, I might not be connected to all of you in the way I am today, and I feel absolutely certain I’d be worse off without the feedback and readership that working for newspapers like the Ennis Daily News has provided me.

Nick will miss his great uncle, but will always think of him when he sees a golf ball. He can be reached at nick@ennisdailynews.com.

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Posted by on Nov 24 2010. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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