My daddy, Clifton Breaux, affectionately known by many as T-boy, was born May 2, 1944. He was 1 of 4 children in his family – His dad a construction painter with no education and his mom a stay at home mom. He was raised in Sulphur – a community in which he loved. Many may not know this but when he was a senior in high school his father got another job in another town and the family was moving . He did not want to leave Sulphur High School – so as an 18 yo he got a job, rented a room and paid his own way so he could stay, as his family moved on….. GRIT
I would imagine that one big reason why he stayed is for one Linda Breaux….. He graduated and not long after married my mother and quickly went to serve our country in the Vietnam War….. BRAVERY
And i have read some of the letters out of “the box” of letters my mother saved for over 50 years. Love letters from a young, homesick 19 year old who was separated from his new wife where on paper he showered her with his feelings of love and plans for the future he would build with her. COURAGEOUS
And a future he did build….. He returned from WAR and began his family. Penny born in 1969 and then ME in 1973…. He stopped with me because he had obtained perfection or maybe because he didn’t want to chance getting another girl lol.
But let me back up for just a second. I am four paragraphs in and I haven’t even mentioned sports or his amazing athletic ability. Im not sure when his love for sports began or when he or anyone else for that matter noticed how talented athletically he was but for me when I think of my dad I have to think of sports as they were so ingrained in who he was. He once told me a story about when he was a young boy who wanted to play ball but did not have shoes or a glove and couldn’t afford any. He showed up and the coach said he needed those things or he couldn’t play. He wanted to PLAY…. Ms. Benglis who ran Sulphur Parks and Recreation at that time saw his desire and most likely knew he had an ability found a glove and a pair of shoes that someone had left behind – she told him that if no-one claimed them in a week, he could have it. He spoke very fondly of Ms. Benglis…. she fostered his love of sports and would help him out in his youth when she could. He eventually went on to work for her as a basketball referee for 30+ plus years. She was highly regarded by my dad and when I came to meet her in MY youth – My dad called her MOM…. ATHLETIC, PERSEVERANCE
I am sure there were others that saw his ability and love for THE GAME. Some of who are sitting here today who played along side him or against him. (raise your hand if you ever play ball with him – any kind) He was a fierce competitor and was equally gifted and talented in ANY sport he wanted to play….. ALL except skiing (he never mastered that – it was mind boggling) COMPETITIVE
Decades of basketball games, golf games, tennis, baseball and hundreds upon hundreds of WINS. As i was going through photo albums, there were so many pictures of him posing by trophies and news articles about his sports wins. When I was a young girl the largest piece of furniture in our entire house was his trophy case that was filled to the brim!…. TALENTED
My childhood and my young adulthood was spent following him and his friends around to basketball tournaments, or tennis matches or softball games. And i have very fond memories of him playing – I distinctly remember him playing in a tournament and watching him, Paul Champagne and Ronnie Bland run down the court and pass the ball – not looking at where they were passing it to just blindly knowing the other would be there to get the pass, eventually feeding it to him under the goal for the strong lay-up. (Not sure why that memory has stuck with me this long). I remember the ugly stripped westlake colored pants that Paul Champagne would wear, even though he was playing on a sulphur team. I remember Ronnie Bland’s comb over flapping out of place while he ran down court. I remember my dad in his 60’s playing with men who were in their 20’s and hanging with them. FRIENDSHIP
(I even loved to go watch him play as a young adult – I thought he was GREAT – I saw his talent.)
I remember all the men that played ball with my dad and the camaraderie that they shared. I saw how people regarded him – they respected him. He was honest, fair but fiercely competitive. He stood out and was a leader among his peers. …. LEADERSHIP
And although He had a big presence and you certainly didn’t want to piss him off – as he was a bit of a bad ass – he was as humble and as good as they come. In the last years of his life, he allowed his firecracker of a daughter (that would be me) to call the shots so to speak – he always followed my lead and allowed me to seek the best of the best for him and his medical care. He graciously turned over the reigns and trusted that I would do what was right and good for him. HUMBLE
He never lived in a mansion, he didn’t have endless wealth, he worked hard to make a living AND what he modeled for me and what has always resonated is to have a good work life balance. He was a master at it. He worked hard but he played harder. The memories that we would sit and talk about are not the mundanes of his job (although he did have some funny stories to tell) they were of his sports adventures, good times with friends and his travels. CONTENT
Here are a few truths about my dad:
– He always respected my mother! He never wanted me and my sister to be mean to her and would defend her relentlessly (that is fall on your sword kind of love) He committed his love to her and stood by her side for 55 years…… LOYAL
– He Always had a nice vehicle and it was always clean (inside and out) all the time …. PRIDE
– He was forever at my beckon call with me or my kids rarely ever telling me he couldn’t – running forgotten shoes, uniforms, books, etc to school, shuttling kids to practices and games or whatever I needed…. DEPENDABLE
– He was always my champion. He always had my back. Even when I made bad decisions he stood by quietly and stepped in only when I asked him to. He let me make mistakes and boy did I make some doozies yet he was always there to help support me in any way he could!….. SUPPORTIVE
– He did not care one bit what anybody else thought of him or what he was doing. He forged his own path without thought or worry about anyone else. He never let people who didn’t matter too much…matter too much. I like to think that he passed this quality to me at birth. AUTHENTIC
– He was a man of faith. Countless times I would walk into his house and he would be saying his rosary or his prayers. I remember all the times as a young girl where we would gather together as a family to say the rosary He Led… FAITHFUL
– He loved my kids and celebrated each one for their own strengths. I gave him the son he never had. Kip wasnt overtly talented athletically – but what he did not have in skill he made up in heart and my dad capitalized on that. My dad coached and worked with Kip to develop his skills once Kip finally decided that basketball was HIS sport. He watched proudly as he played High School Basketball and then at a Collegiate level. He cheered his fierce little Lizzy on through Middle School basketball and when she abandoned it for cheer in High School was just as proud of her. He was super proud that both Kip and Lizzy went on to college and he was just weeks shy of seeing Lizzy graduate from Baylor. It wasn’t until my 3rd child arrived from China that he got a grandchild that was equally talented athletically as he was…. They had a special bond the moment she walked off the plane and that special connection never wavered. We all saw it and recognized it. His grandchild who as a 6 year old would score 20+ points on the soccer field. He was so proud and excited to see her play. He would bring a pen and paper to keep track of how many she scored. She’s a beast – he’d say. And we would laugh at how crazy good she was. I will forever be saddened that he is not around to see her athletic career. Then there is Mia – the firecracker who’s sweetness stole his heart. She made him laugh with the things that continually come out of her mouth……. He was so proud of all of my children’s accomplishments big and small and he loved them each one more than they will ever know……LOVE
I look fondly on all those things with my kids that he got to witness however I am deeply saddened by all the things that he will miss…. Graduations, Weddings, Births, Baptisms, Jobs, Promotions, Holidays. He was a part of my everything – I celebrated, He celebrated.
Grit, Bravery, Courageous, Athletic, Perseverance, Talented, Friendship, Leadership,, Humble, Competitive, Loyal, Pride, Dependable, Supportive, Authentic, Faithful and Love… these are all the things my dad modeled over a lifetime for me, his family, friends and his community. These are the things that I want my children to see as his Legacy…. their legacy now to continue in their lives and in their communities. I want them to look around this room and see what a beautiful life looks like and know the qualities it takes to have this. I want them to see that we lost a GOOD man, one of a kind and that a loss this profound is one that leaves a deep void. I ask each of my children, standing in front of my dads friends and our family for you to NEVER forget your grandfather and to carry on his legacy in your life passing it along to the next generations.
I will conclude with those things that I will never forget and I will forever miss:
– Shoes – tons of tennis, basketball, and golf shoes piled by the back door of his house
– the funny noise he made with his mouth – no-one has ever been able to replicate
– his piercing blue eyes – or green depending on what he wore that day
– the smell of his cologne
– Him cooking the most delicious pot of beans
– Getting in his vehicle (always clean) his radio always tuned to ELVIS RADIO
– Westerns being on the TV when I came over (i think he watched the same one over and over again)
– His voice and him hugging me as I would leave him and him saying I love you Sha
– His laugh
– The way he indulged my children (and me thinking … wait a minute you didn’t do that for me when i was a kid) like running to the store to get my kids mcdonalds or an icy just because thats what they wanted. He was incorrigible.
– His wallet, which was really just his license and money wrapped with rubber bands
– The crown royal bag of change – mostly quarters that was always in his truck
– His flip phone – one you couldn’t or he didn’t know how to text on. So he would call instead. AND no matter what I was doing or who I was with – I ALWAYS answered his call. Didn’t matter if I was with the most important person – I answered his call
– I will miss dancing with him. He was my dance partner (although i had to share him with my mom of course) for my entire life. Thankfully I got one last dance in January at his Mardi Gras Ball – I savored every moment of that dance.
– Last but certainly not LEAST Basketball season with him. The local games we would go watch and talk about. The phone calls during college games… He would call or I would and the first words out of our mouths would be “OMG Did you see that”?! – knowing we were most likely watching the same game. And if not the other would have to explain what happened in the game that warranted the phone call. I prayed I would have one more basketball season with him and GOD saw fit to give me grace enough for him to stay on this earth for just that. Priceless memories…. Basketball season will never be the same without him….. But I know that Him and Ronnie Bland are having one heck of a basketball game up in heaven.
Thank you all for coming to honor my dad and support us in our grief. All who know me know how special he was to me and how much i loved him. They also know what a devastating loss this is for me. I will forever be crushed and heartbroken without him. But I know that whatever GOD binds together on earth he Binds together in heaven …. and I know that I will see him again.