|Frankie to few.
Mr. Elliott to many.
When I recall how many men and women,
(strangers to me)
attended his funeral,
the many employees,
and fellow superintendents
from across the Bay Area,
I realized just how influential
But he was just as influential to me
in a quieter way,
not written about in newspapers
as were so many of his accomplishments,
or celebrated at school district banquets,
or retirement parties
attended by hundreds.
To me he was Grandpa Frank.
A man of humble wisdom. A knowing grin on his face.
My own personal Dumbledore,
only with a short cropped white beard instead
of a long one.
A man who went on a safari in Africa,
slipped and slid down a glacier on his back,
traveled the world,
yet was content
sitting at a table with me
playing chess. Little did I know
he made a living playing chess
when working for the railroad
didn’t always put food on the table.
But I enjoyed the time spent across the board
I lost every game I ever played with him.
I miss him. I miss the chuckles. The inside jokes.
The moments of wisdom he would impart upon me.
I miss the conversations of God, and life, and politics,
and the challenge of debate on philosophy.
were so many more moments
courtesy of the lupus and neurological issues
that ravaged his body in trudging degradation.
And the strong, virile man
I once knew descended
into a state of childlike dementia.
And as I sat watching
him stare out the window hooting and hollering as though
he was a monkey
at people passing by on the trail below his house,
Knowing I would lose my grandfather soon.
And as hospice moved in and my mother and I
helped take care of him in his final days,
I recall the stark contrast of the strong man in
his safari outfit
with the man barely able to speak
in his hospital bed
as I helped change his diaper.
But he left his mark on my character.
He taught me the importance of quiet dignity,
of getting the job done, and the value of time and how precious
it can be. And to be able to understand both sides of
an argument even if you staunchly believed in only one side.
He was a well of wisdom that I did not fully get to explore.
I miss him. But nearly a decade later
I keep him alive in my heart.
Love you Grandpa Frank