The University of Tampa community mourns the loss of Professor Alan Weimer who passed away on September 1st, 2007 after a 17-month courageous battle with cancer.
I met Alan 10 years ago at the home of a mutual friend and our first collective reaction was “WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN MY ENTIRE LIFE?”
Two months later, we celebrated our first Thanksgiving (with turkey and all the fixings) – In July! Yes, in July, because we wanted to get our families together to thank God for having found each other.
Over the next year or so, we became one family. He was “big daddy” to my daughter Jasmine and doted on my son Rohan. He took special pleasure in rubbing his scruffy face on the nape of my wife Rohini’s neck to give her a fuzzy wuzzy. My beautiful wife never ever got used to that one, but figured it came with the territory.
I never got to spend much time with Alan when he came home, as he was so wrapped up with my kids. We did, however, take our well deserved tequila breaks. Boy, did he ever introduce me to the pleasure of fine tequila!
Over the years we spent many memorable moments together.
As a sample …
I can never forget the day Roe and I got our citizenship and Alan and the kids were skipping through the convention center oblivious to the many strange looks that people gave them.
After I received my citizenship papers and turned to the back of the hall where he was standing, he was holding Rohan upside down and waving his legs at me. That was the child in him!
I remember the time that Mike, Alan and I went to Holland. As we stood in the tulip fields looking at the rows of gorgeous flowers, he was captivated by the beauty of every single flower and kept calling me to focus on the intricacies of a single tulip. My comment – “It’s a tulip Alan – get over it.”
He was amazed at how little I read, as I was by how much he did. He took it as his moral responsibility to make me read the “good stuff.”
I never let him down. I always read the stuff he gave me. Now, I am in trouble – I will never be able to replace my intellectual conscience. He was amusingly appalled at how little I knew about the arts, music and world events in general.
It really bothered Alan that he was older than me, because I never let him forget it when he complained about his aches and pains. It also bothered him that my hair was darker than his. He made it a point to tell all our students that my hair came out of a bottle!
On a visit to his home the week he died, I stood at the foot of his bed for about a half hour, watching him, my mind a whirl of emotions. I barely blinked, as if to not miss a second of looking at him. My mind drifted to our first meeting, our many dinners together, our love for fine tequila, and every Christmas day together over the past 10 years when he came to our home with lavish gifts. Almost as if he had taken out a page from the Santa handbook and decided that my kids were the only kids in the world.
Alan and I always argued which one of us was a better teacher. While I never admitted it to him, he was. Why? Because he made me better as a teacher and as a person
He led by example. He taught me about compassion, about patience and the importance of always being well prepared. We taught our BIZKIDZ and our UT students the importance of passion, and the need to pursue passion over money. Alan was remarkable, as a teacher and an educator, in the way that he encouraged others. He was an excellent listener, a hard worker and truly cared about the people whose lives he touched.
He convinced his students and the children that we worked with to find the hero that was inside of them. Each of us has heroes in our lives, but the one hero that we all shared was Alan. He was a hero as he battled cancer; he was a hero in the way that he taught all of his students, and he was a hero in the way that he loved and cherished his family and friends, and above all, he was a hero in the way that he lived his life. His life may be over now but the hero that he was to all of us can remain forever in our hearts.
When I lost mom and dad, I always felt that life would be fine if I just stopped loving people because the pain of loss was too much. Over the past year I realized how much I loved Alan and how much I will continue to love him because my life is and will always be better for having known him. We will never have the opportunity to have a fine dinner, or a quiet drink together, and I will miss our daily phone call – but he has left me enough memories to last me a life time. I must cherish those, I must feel honored, that he was such an important part of my life.
What Alan taught me was to say “I LOVE YOU” to the people I love — every day. He always took time to tell me that he loved me, and told everyone else he loved me too. I bet we raised quite a few eyebrows in the UT hallways as two grown men would hug each other and profess our love for each other.
Over the past few weeks since Alan left us, I have received hundreds of emails and telephone calls from friends, colleagues, business associates and former students articulating the difference that Alan made in their lives and what a wonderful human being he was. His memorial service was well attended by the many students who loved him and whose lives he touched. Thank you, Alan, for these many gifts and for touching so many lives. I will miss you, my friend, but you will always be right here with me. I will keep your legacy and your love alive in my heart and never let our bond wane. Your love will give me the strength to deal with the pain of not having you by my side. You are, and will always be, a hero to me. It is only appropriate that I end this tribute with the five words you and I said to each other more often this past year than any other: I LOVE YOU MY BROTHER!