Here’s the text that I read at my pops’ memorial this weekend: Coach, teacher, friend, husband, pops, Grandpa Bert. Pop Tart.
I also gave my dad the nickname “Fran”, which was short for “Frantic”. I rarely saw my pops being nervous, but when he was it was usually because he was worried about those he cared about. Perhaps this isn’t surprising given that he lost my brother to leukemia. But I definitely took every opportunity to tease him about being “Fran” and he took it in stride.</p>
My pops taught me how to cry. I’ll get lots of practice today. I’ve heard people say things like, “tough men don’t cry.” That sure as shit wasn’t my experience! My pops was tough and he cried.
My pops also taught me how to grind away at goals. If you want something, you work on it every damn day. And if you falter, you start start anew. One of the things he’d say to me often as a kid was, “It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, it matters how many times you stand up.”
Speaking of doing things every day…the summer before 8th grade, my dad, my cousin, and I spent the summer in my grandfather’s motor home, driving across the country. My dad brought pretty much a full gym with us. I can promise you that we were the only family doing bench presses in the campground that summer! I’m serious, we brought a bench press, bar, free weights, and dumbbells with us on vacation. I have vivid memories of setting a personal best in the campground at Lake Tahoe. Because I didn’t know any better, I thought this was normal! I’m sure the folks that saw us, still tell stories about the crazy family that was working out in the campground.
My pops taught me how to have grit, to persevere. He taught me how to do hard things. It usually centered on wrestling, but the lessons transferred to all aspects of life. I happen to have a PhD in mathematics. People often think I must be some sort of genius. My pops would say, “he didn’t get his math brain from me.” But I’m not a genius. And it turns out that I did get that from him. It’s just something hard. And my pops taught me how to do hard things. I literally just applied the same skills he taught me. Grind away at things, work on your goals every damn day, get up every time you fall down. Do hard things.
My pops also taught me to be loyal and how to love with every fiber of my being. I love you pops. We are going to miss you Fran. Tell Brandy I said hello.
Picture taken by Jen the day after the memorial. It was nice to have some quiet time with pops and my brother.
Mathematics & Teaching
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Flagstaff and NAU sit at the base of the San Francisco Peaks, on homelands sacred to Native Americans throughout the region. The Peaks, which includes Humphreys Peak (12,633 feet), the highest point in Arizona, have religious significance to several Native American tribes. In particular, the Peaks form the Diné (Navajo) sacred mountain of the west, called Dook'o'oosłííd, which means "the summit that never melts". The Hopi name for the Peaks is Nuva'tukya'ovi, which translates to "place-of-snow-on-the-very-top". The land in the area surrounding Flagstaff is the ancestral homeland of the Hopi, Ndee/Nnēē (Western Apache), Yavapai, A:shiwi (Zuni Pueblo), and Diné (Navajo). We honor their past, present, and future generations, who have lived here for millennia and will forever call this place home.