It’s all Pa’s fault.

Geronimo Cabrera is the reason this gal has a well-oiled machine for a brain.

He taught me how to read by reading the newspaper aloud to me when I was 3.

When I was 5 or 6, he would let me stay up until 3 a.m. to finish a massive jigsaw puzzle we started together.

And from kindergarten to my freshman year of high school, he was my private math tutor in basic math, geometry and algebra.

Throughout my childhood, my grandpa was the only family member who was active in my education. My parents usually worked night shifts, so Pa really was the only person to help me with my homework after school.

I credit him with helping me earn “A” marks in every math class up until trigonometry and calculus. In fact, I think my math grades started slipping when I had to figure everything out on my own.

Good grades are normal. I don’t mean to gloat, but every subject came naturally to me. Except for math. At 5 years old I already recognized that mathematics could potentially be the bane of my perfect grades. I distinctly remember the day subtraction was introduced to my kindergarten class. My mind couldn’t figure out 5 – 3 = 2.

Ridiculous, I know. But because I didn’t catch onto it immediately, I started to panic. I had to raise my hand for the teacher. I never had to ask for help before, let alone raise my hand for any reason other than going to the restroom.

When I got home, I showed my grandpa my homework. I suppose I was visibly flustered because he sat me down on my favorite seat at the dining table (the very same dining table under which I used to try to hide from God, but that’s a story for another day).

He taught me how to solve every problem on that sheet of paper. After that I always went to him to help me or to review my work.

Unfortunately, for all the hours Pa put in, I still loathe math. I realized years later that I hate math only because it’s the only subject that has ever given me any serious trouble.

And truly, I am amazingly lazy.


Gah. I bet he can kick my ass on a math test even now. He has a mind for it, and a patience for it, that I never possessed, try as he did to shape me.

Meh. I just wanted an excuse to write about my grandpa, as I was thinking about him often yesterday. I really do believe he had the greatest influence on my academic… prowess, if you will. He is still going strong at more than 70 years, and in my selfishness I pray that I will never lose him.

He’s doing incredibly well, all things considered. However, there are times when I see my brother or my dad on the tiny screen of my cell phone and my heart skips.

I’m just paranoid. I love my grandpa.

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