Opa Would Be Proud

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Yesterday (May 1st) was one of those bittersweet days for the Billett family.  My son, Zach, was recognized at a well-attended luncheon for being named an “Academic All-Star” by our local paper, The Commercial Appeal.  Zach was nominated by one of his high school guidance counselors for his achievements – particularly this school year – in leading and running several of the school’s academic competition teams. May 1st was also Sam Black’s birthday.  Sam, Vicki’s father, has been dead for a little over seven years now, and his death still leaves an emotional hole in our lives. 
Sam was a professor of medicine at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.  Sam was a PhD who researched and taught molecular biology to future doctors and researchers.  I believe Sam’s greatest joy was teaching his students to love and appreciate the tiny, tiny world of molecules in which life and death – in the form of disease – were in constant struggle for domination.  Later in his tenure at A&M, Sam was responsible for mentoring third- and fourth-year medical students as they began their internships and, eventually, their residency programs.

After the luncheon, a proud mom and her son.

It was Sam’s love of learning, however, that both of my children “inherited,” whether intrinsically or externally.  Emily and Zach have always enjoyed learning about pretty much everything, and I truly believe it’s because of those days and weeks spent in Sam’s “sanctuary of learning.”  To them, even at a very young age, it seemed like their Opa knew everything.  Or had access to countless books to find out about more things.  The impact of these experiences, even after Sam died, had such a profound affect on Zach that he used Opa’s “sanctuary of learning” imagery in one of his better written college essays.  (I’ll have to post it here sometime.)

I am so proud of my son – and my daughter – and truly thankful that the positive memories of the short time they had with their grandfather (“Opa” in Dutch and German) will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Truly, Opa would be proud…..