September 6 has been a bittersweet day for me for a very long time. My father, about whom I’ve written in the past (like here and here) died on September 6, 1973. I remain grateful for all that Daddy taught me, even though our time on this earth was so short.
One year later, on September 6, 1974, one of my nephews was born. Now, with all my siblings, I have a lot of nieces and nephews. And except for the first two – both born before my Daddy died – I never remember their dates of birth. (I do have them in my calendar!)
Jason Hawk Robinson was the third. And, of course, I remembered his birthday. It was the sweet part of the day.
Jason was a precocious kid – smart and a smart aleck 🙂 I’ve got so many pictures of him from when he was little. I think he was about 6 when he said he wanted to be a doctor. He always did well in school, as he stuck with that goal.
That is, until he fell in love with football. Unlike a lot of football players, he didn’t start in Pop Warner. He was in high school before he started playing. He walked on to the UVa football team, which he attended on an academic scholarship. He did some college coaching, too, down in Memphis when he was working on his graduate degree. For the last few years, he coached high school football on the Peninsula.
No, he didn’t become a doctor – at least not in the sense that he became a medical doctor. But he became a different kind of doctor: coaching in high school, being a role model and mentor to young men. He even set up a side business to help develop their talents and get the kids into college.
He grew into a fine, caring man – a good teacher, husband, father and friend. Football is the one sport I follow – and Jason helped me to understand some of the intricacies of it, like what exactly “cover two” means. Whenever I’d run into high school coaches on the Southside of Hampton Roads, they all knew him. He was recognized as being one of the smartest coaches in the area.
And as I transitioned into being an educator myself, we would talk about teaching and students and how to reach them and what to expect from them. He helped me a lot, just as I had helped him set up his business. Ours was a relationship beyond aunt/nephew – one that was more mature, and based on mutual respect – even though we didn’t see much of each other.
This past May, we lost Jason. It was completely unexpected – he had a brain tumor that went undetected and died a couple of days after the surgery to remove it. The outpouring from his colleagues and players was overwhelming. I didn’t realize that he had helped one of ODU’s players get on the team. Facebook was filled with pictures of him, almost all from current and former players. He would have been the offensive coordinator at Grafton this year; the team has dedicated the season to him.
As a family, we usually have a cookout Labor Day weekend, a combination of Jason’s birthday and back-to-school, last of summer hurrah. Not this year – too soon to have anything around that date, although I did host one a couple of weeks ago. Even that was a little too close – we couldn’t sing one of the family’s favorite songs, because it was one of Jason’s, too. He posted a video of us singing it on his Facebook page.
I am grateful for having had my Daddy and Jason in my life. But September 6 is a lot less sweet.