Poppa John, Pizza, and Star Wars

Art installation

My beloved father-in-law was actually an honest-to-goodness rocket scientist. He was a professor of astronomy at the University of Florida. He worked on the telescope at the South Pole, not once but several times. He trained students who went on to be astronauts and other NASA personnel. His list of accomplishments goes on and on, including an astronomical art installation in Ireland that he did the scientific work for (above).

Poppa & Dorothy

In spite of all that – to me and the rest of the family, he was Poppa. Every year at this time, our family gets depressed as we finally lost him to the cancer he had fought so hard. He stretched a three-year prognosis out to six but no amount of time with someone you love is enough. He got to be there for the birth and first birthday of his great-granddaughter Dorothy.


My granddaughter Dorothy has grown up calling me Papa. I’m proud of the title but spell it differently so as not to tread on hallowed ground. My loving wife has learned how to make Poppa’s pizza this year. We even bought a pizza paddle and a pizza stone.


My wife and eldest daughter are taking the day off work. Dorothy is going to miss a day of HeadStart. We are going to remember Poppa as we sit around eating his pizza and watching Star Wars all day. Tell your loved ones that you love them. Never miss an opportunity.

Wish you were here with us Maya – we love you!