In Memorian

My godmother Nancy Kean passed away from complications associated with anesthesia during a laparoscopic procedure to remove blockage from one of her arteries. She had a Master's Degree in English. She showed great faith in me as a writer, even though it took what seemed like forever for me to get through the poetic years and into the age of maturity necessary to be a novelist. She sponsored the legal side of my education. My rock solid foundation in legal thought, in unshakable logic, came directly from her encouragement.

My paternal grandfather, John Samuel Day, II, was born on the Isle of Pines off of the coast of Cuba, to John Samuel Day, and Nana Sanchez Day. He migrated to New Orleans when he was still a young man. He was a painter and corresponded with some of the great artists and thinkers of Latin America and Polynesia during the 1920's and 1930's. Only a few envelopes and stamps of those very valuable letters remain with me, as he had many descendants and relatives. After moving to Baton Rouge he worked at Ethyl Corporation in Baton Rouge, for more than three decades where he received numerous commendations for improvements to petroleum processing.

I listened to stories about the United States military when I was a child. My maternal grandfather, Kenneth Earl Rollins, was a frogman in the United States Navy. He learned a very dangerous trade in the service, applied during WWII. I liked hearing about shore leave too, but he wouldn't talk about that in front of my mother or grandmother. He worked for the Ethyl Corporation for 37 years, in Baton Rouge and Odessa, Texas. He was acknowledged for major contributions to the invention of plastic.

I heard the history of Midway from a man who was stationed on there. He was one of the people tasked with keeping our planes in the sky as we patrolled the Pacific theater over 60 years ago. Camille Giammerse worked for United Grocers for over three decades. He discussed Italian history and culture with me at great length, but we spent more time talking about medicine than anything else. He had a practical knowledge of the medical field that never failed to help me in medical transcriptions and depositions.

Older Baton Rougeans remember Arthur Cullen Lewis in a far different way than I do. He was known as a bastion of the community and a real estate giant. A. C. Lewis had a breathtaking business sense and a God given talent for succeeding in competitive business situations. I will always remember him as a substitute for the paternal grandfather I was never able to know, since my own passed away while I was still a young child. For the period of history my mother served as secretary to Mr. Lewis I sometimes secretly hid in the fantastic historic hotel that housed his office, playing hooky from school. I spent all of my time learning binary and how to use their Unix system, which is how the chief technology officer of Mr. Lewis' company justified to himself that my skipping school there wasn't adverse to my education. At the time I harbored a grudge against that man, the father of one of my closest friends, for forcing me to learn binary instead of simply allowing me to play the incredibly long and boring Star Trek game that was available on their system. All of that is beside the point. I hope to one day hold a candle to Mr. Lewis' positive influence on society, and make him proud to have been one of my benefactors while I was growing up. I will never forget him.

Ruth Kean introduced me to the philosophy of existentialism and the underlying sexual tones of deep literature during my adolescent years. She supported leftist causes and the politics of the oppressed with a vigor that never stopped reverberating from the 1980's. Her commitment to the underground writing of the European continent created a small mountain of literary references I dug through and devoured before I ever graduated from high school.

My maternal grandmother, Irene Rollins, left me her library of close to a thousand books when she passed away barely six months after her only husband, my grandfather. She won an entire cabinet full of trophies for finely wrought pieces of kiln fired ceramics and pottery, a skill she mastered to the nth degree. She taught me some of the finer details of the art and trade while I was still just a young boy. She raised three children and never forsook her duties as a homemaker while she became a highly acclaimed member of our community.

John Gilbert Day studied the culture and traditions of the indigenous peoples of the world until he achieved absolute mastery of the concepts of sociology. He lived in the Pecos Wilderness and traded with members of the Navajo Nation, and we explored northern Sonora on backroads and trails where we met with descendants of Apache tribal leaders in the early 1970's. He left me with his massive knowledgebase of the American West and every facet of pioneer life, and an intense love of life.

My great grandmother Bessie Brown was the child of a Civil War veteran and witnessed some of the south's great struggles in the last part of the 19th century. She moved to Baton Rouge from near the Pennsylvania-Kentucky state line. She touted the conservative life and opposed any social changes that might weaken the cornerstones upon which our nation flourishes. She never had many things. She focused on things of immortal value, things that could never be stolen by the passage of time: The morals, education and strengths of her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Grandma Bessie was a gem in the rough of South Louisiana.

Hazel J. Hardin, my adoptive grandmother, supported women's suffrage and equal rights for women. She worked as the Potmistress of Chatewa, Mississippi, for more than thirty years. My stepfather's mother really set the bar for a devout Christian in so many ways. She loved the smells of nature, freshly cut grass, honeysuckle flowers and pine needles in the woods. Although she was forever strict, prim and proper, she had a heart a mile wide and a kind streak she had difficulty disguising at times.

Steve Rollins, one of my only two uncles, fished the coastal and inland waterways of South Louisiana for decades. He could be called the man who landed the one that got away, as so many pictures and records verify. He never failed to provide enough fish to feed an extended family gathering, when it mattered most. In later years he moved to the Sugar Coast, where he has descendents to this day.

Douglas Rollins, my other uncle, was a thinker, a scholar, an artist and a musician. He left behind throngs of friends, admirers and family in Louisiana and Texas, and the entire Gulf Coast region, if not as far away as California and New York. He passed away while he was still only a young man, near the age of thirty. He drowned in the fast moving currents of a South Louisiana river, the same one from which I was pulled barely breathing.

Seth Klein, Shane Klein, Patrick Klein, three brothers, two of whom were my closest friends in the world, were killed by lightning while taking refuge from a storm under a tree. The corn fields and dairies of Tangipahoa Parish, where I spent a lot of time as a child, may never have seen a more tragic event. Rainstorms often bring the brothers to mind.

My paternal grandmother, Wilma B. Day, discussed court cases and legal precedents with me throughout my years as a young adult. Her knowledge and insights concerning the men and women active on the public record, from the courts and local and state government, never failed to provide entertainment and thought provoking commentary during the time we spent together. A shrewd businesswoman, she invested wisely in downtown Baton Rouge. She will forever be remembered as not only a great supporter to have but also a tough adversary to face, in any venue.

Raphael Vides, Uncle Ralph, a master architect and business owner, designed the Antigua, Guatemala Country Club and the Antigua Holiday Inn, among other lasting monuments. He left behind a large family, including two very beautiful daughters when last I saw them. He owned a coffee plantation in the tropical volcanic highlands that included a banana farm and a small village inside of it, and was a very close friend of my family. I stayed with he and his family during a solo visit in 1983 (a visit that lasted far too long and almost cost me a year of education here in the United States).

Anne Violet, a beautiful soul who perished before the ravages of breast cancer, exuded spiritual balance and poise. Her collection of Eastern religious teachings and her careful attention to feng shui spoke highly of her outlook on life, although she was very much a Christian. She lived in the finest part of St. Francisville for many years, and then in a gorgeous loft across from the oldest golf course in Baton Rouge. She had an eye for curios and furnishings that always made her residence a joy to pass time in.

Otis Merle Kennedy, the former owner of Blythewood Plantation in Amite, Louisiana, was the guardian of the Kennedy family legacy. She traveled extensively and collected hardwood antiquities, especially larger pieces. She was a member of many community organizations and beloved in her community. Her descendants carry on the family tradition of business excellence, gentility and distinction. The old residence could be spooky on a stormy night. The family hunting camp deep in the piney woods sometimes seemed haunted as well.

Susan Jennifer Day was extremely gifted with the cello, playing and teaching other people how to play for much of her adult life. The native of Austin, Texas attended Louisiana State University until shortly before she died. She was 26 years old when multiple medical complications claimed her life. We were married for four years.

Robert Bowers was a skilled carpenter, craftsman and a devotee of military history and political news. During many long conversations in the back room of the great home in front of the apartment from which I attended college he outlined predictions about United States military engagements in debates about the evolution of Islamic extremism and conflicts in the Middle East. He was an unsung folk hero to many, and a great conversationalist.

And many fond memories of Vera and Velma Rountree, my great aunts, Mama Rountree, Great Uncle Petey, and Great Uncle Teet. I have three surviving blood relatives, my mother and two half-brothers. I have often wondered if my younger brother still resembles the person he was the last time I saw him, when he was a wee child. Deceased contemporaries are absent from this list.
Subscribe by Email. . . RSS. . .
Creative Commons License
Symbols of Decay is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License..
Related written works at Angelfire, Sex Symbols, Cymbals of Silence.Repent or Die