Our Day of the Dead altar

The movie Coco was one of our favorites of the past year. We’ve watched it several times, and when I flew to Singapore, I even fast forwarded to the end just so I could cry. I mean, it’s so beautiful. I loved learning more about Día de los Muertos, which I thought I knew something about since my friend Terry had been setting one up at the pub for Gareth ever since he passed away.

Terry and I decided it would be a wonderful tradition to start an altar (or ofrenda) this year for my dad, because now the boys (and I!) understand what it all means. And it being the 20th year since his death, it seems kind of fitting.

So with Terry’s guidance, I collected everything I needed and set up the altar last night. Today I’ve been playing the Neil Diamond station on Pandora in the living room and I am imagining Dad sitting on the sofa with Ziggy, eating a handful of the peanuts we put out for him, washing them down with the glass of Pepsi.

(Ziggy would make a great alebrije, eh? We should have dressed him as Dante for Halloween!)

Here’s what we have on it:

  • A cup of coffee
  • A deck of cards
  • A pack of Benson & Hedges and a lighter
  • Peanuts
  • Fried chicken (thigh)
  • Pepsi
  • Salt
  • Glass of water
  • Candles (LED, don’t worry)
  • Paper flowers
  • Photos of Dad (if you saw Coco, you know how important these are!)

I am definitely missing a golf ball, but I’ll remember it for next year. I can save the flowers, flags, candles, cards, and cigarettes but don’t worry, I’ll throw out the chicken and peanuts. (Poor Ziggy really wanted to eat that chicken last night.)

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It’s been twenty years

Today marks twenty years since my dad died. Instead of posting the same old pictures for the, well, twentieth time, I dug through my boxes of pictures to find some new ones. And if you want to read more about my dad and what an awesome guy he was, this post about the annual golf tournament that Blue Cross still holds annually in his memory is a good read.

Now that’s a handsome dude.
Coolest family on Earth.

I like how these pictures are basically the same, just a few years apart.

Man, was THAT ever a great first day of school outfit! And perm. Oof. The 80s were not kind.
This must’ve been around late 95 or so, judging by my “Rachel”. (Also it was my brother and SIL’s engagement party.)

I sure did love my Daddy.

I also wrote about him here, here, and here.

Happy birthday, Dad!

Today would have been my dad’s 77th birthday. I was looking for this awesome picture to post – it was the first day of fifth or sixth grade, I’m not sure. I had picked out an epic outfit. It was great. Red long-sleeved button down shirt (in Baton Rouge in August. Fashion trumps all!), long denim skirt. Bolo tie. Silver concha belt (is that what they’re called?) Earrings that looked like tiny versions of the belt links. (Just remembering those earrings evokes the smell of Claire’s.) Freshly permed helmet of hair. My shoes were…probably western themed. And my dad, standing proudly next to me.

Well, this was a man who wore black socks with shorts. I must have inherited his fashion sense.

Anyway, while digging around for that picture, I found this flier from a surprise birthday party we threw for him.

He didn’t like being the center of attention, so the surprise party maybe wasn’t his favorite ever. We joked that he died right before his 60th birthday to avoid another surprise party. Way to get out of it, Dad.

surprise

Those are some stellar graphic design skillz I whipped out for this, eh? Nice.

Anyway, happy birthday, Dad! Hope you get lots of holes in one in that great big golf course in the sky!

My dad’s golf tournament

Seventeen years ago today, my dad passed away. He was an avid golfer (if “avid” means “obsessed”) and after his death, his company started a golf tournament in his memory.

Not too long ago, an article was written about the man behind the name of the golf tournament. (Oh, and the title only works if you mispronounce Mather. It should be may-ther, but whatever.) And the pictures are just random ones I like of us.

Golf Tournament History That ‘Mathers’

BRIAN FONTENOT
APRIL 14, 2015

If you work for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, find yourself on a golf course on a windless day and notice your ball rolling further than it has any right to, you can probably “thank” John Mather for it.

8672665646_bf8a7e3a3f_oMather, whom the annual John Mather Memorial BCBSLA Golf Tournament is named after, was a premiere golfer, a tech enthusiast, a jokester and just a good guy, according to his former coworkers. He lugged around a golf bag on the green and one of the briefcase-sized, monochrome Kaypro computers at work. A man not shy about his rotund figure, he would hop down the stairs like a kid in an attempt to make the building shake.

Mather passed away suddenly in 1998 from a heart attack. At the time, he held the titles of vice president of accounting and controller. These lofty positions he held, in addition to his CPA, he earned with hardly more than a high school diploma and a bit of grandfathering.

“Was John different? Absolutely,” says Darrell Langlois, vice president of Corporate Integrity. “John was not your typical executive. He was more an everyday man.”

Financial Analysis Manager Susan Fisher worked with Mather and describes him as being soft-spoken, quiet and having a good sense of humor.

She remembers that one time during the holiday season, Mather’s secretary was upset because she couldn’t afford to get each of her two boys a new bicycle for Christmas. Mather heard of the situation, and not long after, the secretary received a call from the Capitol Schwinn Cyclery to come pick up her bikes.

8672669486_8bdcef68ea_oMather never took credit for the act of charity, but Fisher still believes him responsible, because he was just that kind of guy.

Fisher explains that Mather was known to eat with the same group of guys almost every day. So commonplace were he and his troupe that they held an unspoken reservation over a particular lunch table in the cafeteria. Fisher and her coworkers, as a prank, decided to disrupt the state of lunchroom affairs. They sat at Mather’s table, leaving him and his comrades in a stupor over their broken routine.

Mather got his revenge the next day, when Fisher and her coworkers found a sign on the table that exclaimed it was reserved for grumpy old men.

Fraud Analyst Theresa Vu migrated to the States in 1975 at the age of 19 and started working for the company in 1977. She credits Mather for encouraging her to pursue her U.S. citizenship.

She remembers a time when she and some of her coworkers heard the Italian model Fabio Lanzoni, known for his butter commercials, romance novel cover modeling and bird strikes, was going to be visiting the old Godchaux’s department store in downtown Baton Rouge.

Having never seen Fabio before, Vu asked Mather if she could take an extended lunch break. Mather, agreeing to the request, wondered aloud, while patting his belly, why she needed to see Fabio when “Flabio” was right there. Not long after, Vu and her coworkers pasted a photo of Mather’s head on a picture of Fabio and gave it to him.

8780466061_02e9e8f8c1_oMather held onto that picture, and it was found in his desk after his passing.

Greg Hanly, regional director of Group Sales and former golf tournament coordinator, was a good friend of Mather and actually had the (relative) pleasure of golfing with him.

“[He] was famous for leaving little surprises in each of our golf bags when we weren’t looking,” Hanly writes. “After several weeks you would begin to notice that your clubs were not fitting properly in your bag, and when you dumped your bag out to see what the problem was, you would discover an assortment of items such as candy wrappers, bottle caps, partially eaten cheeseburgers, etc.”

On the course—pranks aside— Mather was an excellent golfer, regularly shooting in the 70s.

“He was the lifeblood of our Sunday group,” Hanly writes.

Actuarial System Engineer Lee Lawrence, current tournament coordinator, joined the company just before Mather passed. He didn’t have the chance to know Mather very well, but he still recalls with a smile one thing Mather told him. His shoes were ugly.


That article captures my dad’s personality – goofy, kind, incredibly generous, and again, goofy – better than anything I could have written myself.

10 years gone

My dad had a great sense of humor. And he loved kids. I can’t imagine any other reason I had spontaneous identical triplets. He was looking down at me and George (a son-in-law he would have loved…they could have teased me together, imagine the fun!) and thought, you know what would be hilarious?

So between rounds at the great Golf Course in the Sky, I know he’s getting a good laugh out of all this. I hope he’s proud, too.

Thanks, Dad. We miss you. I can’t believe it’s been ten years since I saw you. I hate that you’re missing out on all this fun, but I guess you’re not, are you? We’re going to make sure all five of your grandchildren know what a silly, fun, kind, generous, and loyal Grandpa they have up in heaven.