Eulogy By Mike McDaniel

May 24th, 2010

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Howdy. My name is Mike McDaniel and I am a cousin from Texas.

The family from West Texas sends their love, and is with us today in spirit.

I have lived in the Houston area for 35 years, but I was born and raised in the same area where Bernadine began her life near the towns of Loraine and Colorado City, and also a small farming community called Valley View. From as far back as I can remember, I heard many stories about Bernadine from my Dad (Delmar McDaniel)

I thought all weekend about what to say today and the thought occurred to me that many times our lives are shaped by an event or events that happen during our life. In Bernadine’s case, I think that the event that most affected her life was the death of her mother when Bernadine was just a little girl.

After her Mother’s death, two aunts from Cross Plains, Texas came to Valley View to live with and help (Bernadine’s Dad) Uncle Bill and Bernadine. Aunt Minnie Rone was the first and then later my grandmother MaMa McDaniel came with PaPa McDaniel, my uncle Rex and my Daddy (Delmar). Bernadine was a few years older than the boys and from what I understand the three children had many adventures for the period of time they had together playing and exploring around Valley View.

When I was a little boy, I would be riding along the same Valley View farm roads and mesquite pastures in the pickup truck with my Daddy and he would start telling me stories of all the good times he, Rex and Bernadine had together. Daddy would always tell those stories with a sparkle in his eye and fondness in his heart.

One of his favorites was the time the three of them decided to saddle up “ole Nellie” and ride down to the swimming hole not far from home for an afternoon swim. Daddy was in the front, Bernadine in the saddle and Rex on the back of the horse. On the return trip home Nellie was ready to get back to the barn and was running full speed towards a clothes line to get there. Before impact Daddy went off one way, Bernadine the other and Rex off of the back. Brad told me that Bernadine also rode again in her later years here in Georgia. I wonder if she thought about ole Nellie.

In the few years they were together I believe the boys became the brothers she never had and she became the sister they never had. From my feeling of that, I always considered her as Aunt Bernadine.

When Bernadine started her own family and was living in Mississippi, they would make many trips back to West Texas to enjoy family Christmas times together and also summer vacations. That’s when I got to know the real Bernadine, Vernon, Margie and Brad.

My sister Cindy, brother Mark, Margie, Brad and I developed a bond just like our parents did in the same cotton fields, mesquite pastures and the trails leading to the ruins of the Valley View cotton gin, country school and general store.

One of my favorite things that Cindy and I did was to take Margie, Brad and Mark snipe hunting in the middle of a cotton field on a dark summer night. Just ask Margie and Brad how to snipe hunt and how much fun it was. We also spend countless nights on the tin roof of our family farm house looking up at and making wishes on falling stars, and talking about the wonders of the universe. Margie and I solved a lot problems together looking up from that roof. Life was good during those care free days.

When Cindy and I were considered old enough it was decided that she and I would go visit Bernadine and family for several weeks one summer in the early 60’s. So, we said goodbye to Momma & Daddy after having supper at the Baker Hotel and watching the Man Who Shot Liberty Valance at the movie theatre, and then two small town West Texas country kids caught an east bound passenger train in Colorado City in the middle of night headed for Little Rock, Arkansas.

Vernon (with Margie and Brad) picked us up in an airplane in Little Rock for the final part of our journey to Leland, Mississippi. That in itself was a thrill of a lifetime, but the weeks we spent in Mississippi with Bernadine’s family was a most wonderful time. All of them could not have been more gracious or made us feel more welcome. We truly enjoyed our summer adventures in Mississippi. We went boating and water skiing on a lake off of the Mississippi River (Lake Ferguson), Bernadine took us too many civil war battlefields and many other points of interest. There was never of dull moment and plenty of fun.

The one place I’m sure Bernadine would not want to take us back to was the Old Southern Tea Room in Vicksburg. Can you imagine taking 2 pre-teens and 2 teenagers to a refined southern restaurant for lunch? I think that Bernadine wanted to crawl under the table before we finally finished and she could get us out of there, but I don’t remember her ever fussing at us or making us feel uncomfortable. I do remember us having a great time. Still have this glass from the Old Southern Tea Room as a souvenir; I don’t think to this day that Bernadine knew I took it.

The return trip back home was with Bernadine driving us 4 kids from Mississippi back to West Texas -- 600+ miles --in a Volkswagen Bug without air conditioning during the end of July or 1st part of August. It was a great adventure for us four kids and Bernadine never lost her cool. But, thinking back I’m sure Bernadine was at her wits end at the end of that trip. I know I would have been.

Bernadine lived a full and rewarding life. She was a classy and kind person. She began her life as a down to earth country girl on a cotton farm in West Texas and had a remarkable journey in her lifetime through Texas, New Mexico, California, Mississippi and Georgia. She was loved, admired and respected by her family and many friends.

Bernadine -- you did “good”.

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