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Rooting for the Bengals or Bearcats, earning good grades, standing out on the athletic field, personally working for the money I spend, caring for friends and families. These are all values that my grandfather has helped instill in my life. Popo, as I call him, Allen Elliott to the rest of the world, is my grandfather on my mom’s side of my family. He is a man I respect greatly, one that I strive to impress, and finally a grandfather who I hope to emulate in my life.
“Popo” grew up during the great depression, an only child living with a single mom who fought as hard as she could to keep her son going to decent schools in a decent neighborhood. She succeeded. He attended high school at one of the highest quality public schools in Cincinnati, played football and served as sports editor for the school newspaper. He graduated near the top of his class and was accepted to Yale. He deferred acceptance into Yale and chose to spend six years serving his country in the Navy as an officer. After the navy he went to the University of Cincinnati instead of Yale for financial and social reasons, he earned his college degree in three years and eventually married my grandmother. Today he is a tall, well built white haired gentlemen who in my opinion defines what a gentlemen is. He dresses almost every day of the year in buttoned shirts, ironed slacks and loafers, he speaks with poise and confidence and is always respectful. During these years he not only learned how to be a gentlemen but he also discovered the value of hard work, determination, and confidence, all skills that would serve him well through his adult life.
These are skills that he has spent a significant amount of time and effort passing on to me. From the time I was little he has expressed the importance of earning good grades, although I only see him when I visit Ohio or go on vacation with him, he takes every chance he gets to help me with school work. He has helped me study for tests, and even show me techniques he used to memorize things. I used one of his studying methods to help prepare for my latest pre-calculus quiz. “Popo” takes a legitimate interest in my schoolwork, particularly writing. Every time I see him I try to bring a new article I wrote or a paper I have just completed to show him how I am improving. Usually he simply reads it, makes a few comments to me and hands it back. Other times he will say, “Hold on a second, I think I have something you would like to read.”
He then walks into his office, close enough to the sun room so that I can hear the rustling of papers and the squeaking of drawers being opened, finally he returns with a paper of his own and says, “Take a look at this, I wrote it when I was about your age. “ Other times he has said, “I wrote an article myself on a similar topic while writing for the Withrow High School paper.” I enjoy the times I get to read a piece of his writing after he reads mine, I am able to see how my writing compares to his and how times have changed from his high school days to mine. This is an exchange we both enjoy. Each time I hope for his congratulations, and often time I receive it, but only when it is deserved. If there is one thing I respect most about him it would be his straightforwardness. Although he can be blunt on occasion he tells the truth, the way he sees fit.
Part of this straightforwardness is cause by his confidence, this self-assurance allows him to go into any situation and be confident of who he is and what he has accomplished. Over the years his self-assurance and confidence has been passed on to me without him even trying, from seeing how he acts and feels I realize that no matter what I do, or say, I am just being myself and that I need to accept that. By watching his actions I see that I don't need to fake who I am or try to act like I am someone different than who I really am. I am confident that I have many positive things going for me in life, I am also confident that I have many negatives in my life. I am wiling to accept this. It is clear to me that “Popo” has had a successful life by accepting who he is and being confident of what he stands for, although at times it can seem like he is walking a fine line between arrogant and confident. He has also helped me recognize the how to walk this line, without crossing it. Accepting yourself is a huge part of life, and the earlier a person can do this the better. I feel that I have already done this, I succeeded in doing this by watching my grandfather live his life and interact with other people.
Pride and confidence come hand in hand, being confident in who you are is similar to being proud of who you are, or what you stand for, through thick or thin. My grandfather has been a football since his childhood, because of his love for football when an NFL team started in Cincinnati he immediately reserved seasons tickets. He soon became a proud Bengals fan, most NFL followers know that in the Bengals fifty plus seasons of existence most of the seasons have been losing seasons, even pitiful one win seasons. Through all those seasons my grandfather has stuck with the team, followed there every play and rejoiced at every touchdown. In the fall of my eighth grade year I was lucky enough to attend a Bengals game with my grandfather, to this day I can vividly recall the moment he asked me to join him for the game. It was a Tuesday night, I was sitting at the kitchen counter doing my homework when the phone rang, my mom answered it and then moments later to she handed the phone to me. The voice on the phone was “Popo's”, he simply said, “How would you like to join me on September first to watch a Bengals game? it is there debut in “Paul Brown Stadium”. I was so shocked all I could muster was a quiet “yes....I'd love to go.” My grandfather simple chuckled and told me he already had everything worked out with my mom.
I was shocked primarily because my grandfather prefers to watch Bengals games alone with no distractions, it had been almost fifteen years since he had invited my grandmother to a game. This was not only an honor but a dream come true for me, everything went smoothly until the game started. The Bengals could do nothing right, on the first possession they missed three tackles and gave up a thirty yard touchdown. The first time they touched the ball, they settled for a thirty yard field goal. The rest of the game went similarly, yet throughout the game my grandfather never gave up hope, thinking about what needs to change for the Bengals to win, and what they were doing wrong. I was honored that he divulged so much information in me, however I struggled to deal with the defeat as easily as he did. Apparently thirty years of dealing with failures and losses taught him how to deal with defeat. Although I was disappointed to lose, I enjoyed every moment at the game, sitting with my grandfather, taking in the new stadium and unbelievable size of the linemen. It is an experience I will never forget and an experience that I am extremely grateful for. To this day my grandfather has season tickets, in all his years supporting the Bengals he has only missed one game. I find this dedication and pride impressive, it is something I am hoping to emulate in my life. Although sports are really only a small part of life, they can carry numerous important values and teach unforgettable lessons.
I chose to describe how I try to emulate my grandfather using his dedication to sports because I believe his dedication to sports is nearly an exact replica of his dedication to his family, friends, and at one time, his work. At this stage in my life I follow my teams with dedication, and cheer for them no matter what the situation may be. “Popo” has shown me that a tough loss often teaches a team more than an easy win. When it comes to my friends, I look to support them and spend time with them when they need it, not just when it is fun, like my grandfather would do. On the teams I play for I am sure to never miss a practice, work my hardest while I am there and give my best for the good of the team. Each small moment makes a difference, a moment spent slacking could create a loss, while a moment spent working my hardest would cause a win. This level of hard work easily transferred to my first jobs, my schoolwork and silly chores around the house. Although sports are only a part of life, my grandfather and I share the belief that they can have a much larger meaning and importance.
I only see “Popo” once or twice a year, yet he manages to influence me in numerous ways. His compliments and words of wisdom are something I never forget, they are also something that will make a change in my life. I live my life one moment at a time, it only takes one moment to be influenced, I can think back to dozens of moments were I have been influenced by a few simple words my grandfather has said. I can only imagine how much more my life would be impacted if I lived closer to him, and saw him more often. I know that both of us would enjoy this.





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Ms. S-P said...
Oct. 29, 2010 at 2:28 pm
The emotional connection with Popo is shared with the reader in this piece.  I hope you share this story with him.  I'm sure he'd be honored to read it.
 
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