Head OnIn three days, many will celebrate my brother Erik’s birthday. Though he passed away on October 21, 2013, he is far from forgotten in the minds of many. My family still receives many cherished notes from his friends and colleagues, many of whom we never met. It seems they feel compelled to share with us the impact he had on them (we most certainly appreciate that). Not only in the way he lived his life, but also in the way he dealt with his illness. The most read blog entry I have made to date continues to be Big E’s Big Four, where I share the biggest things he taught me over the 41 years we shared on earth as brothers. I remain amazed by the impact Erik’s lessons continue to have on those who reflect on the time they shared with him and the many who read the lessons I shared in my post.

I recently received a nice note from a longtime friend of mine (and Erik’s) from our shared days at Amador Valley High School. She teaches at the high school level in California and has used Erik’s example since his passing…

I am blaming an impulsive decision on Heritage!  

My school has quarterly themes.  4th term is Reflection, my novels, poems, etc. are all based upon this theme.  I include E’s Big 4 as one the reading selections in my classes.   We just read it a week or so ago.  

A group of my students overheard a conversation I was having with one of my colleagues, at lunch on Friday.  The topic was should I spend a ridiculous amount of money to attend the NBA finals to watch the Warriors live.  My students interrupted my discussion, with “Hey, Ms. Sargent what would Erik do?”  They followed it up with, “Are you busy Living or busy dying?”

Thus, I purchased tickets TODAY!

I will copy and share some of their reflections about the BIG 4!  I always wait until after the assignment is complete to tell my students that I am friends with the Heritage Brothers!  My students are truly inspired by this reading and have thoughtful decisions about it!  I am glad you let me share it with them!

I thought you both would get a kick out of this story!

Hope all is  well!

in a more recent note, Laurie went on to share…

I have a “Live Life Head On” sticker on my teaching podium and one on the visor in my car.  I share with the motto with my students after the reading.  This year one young man, who considers himself a poet, asked if he borrow the motto to include in his writing.  He journals and composes poetry.  He wants to use it as his focus for his summer pieces.  I told him to go for it, that the Heritage Brothers would be “Cool” with it!

I am honored to share a glimpse into Erik’s life and your relationship with him.  What an amazing learning tool and gift I get to pass on each year to my students.  They finally see the relevance and importance of being an authentic person and mastering language!

Life is good, relish in every moment; your brother was a masterful instructor at teaching others this invaluable lesson!   Your words allow Erik to continue to contribute his goodness to the world!

Glad we are friends!

Last week, I attended a retirement ceremony for another amazing man named Eric (yes, his parents spelled it with a C). Eric retired as a Senior Chief after serving in the U.S. Navy for 25 years. He retired as a result of being diagnosed with ALS nine short months ago. Just as Erik did, Eric continues to deal with his challenge “Head On” and inspire many along the way as he raises both awareness about and money for ALS. Coincidentally, Eric’s last name is Amador (same as the name of my high school). These two amazing people share a derivative of the same first name and though the word “Amador” played varying roles in their respective life, the fact that it translates to “lover” is far from ironic. It is rare to meet two people who love life as much as Erik did and Eric does.

Laurie is not the only one who asks herself “What would Erik do?” I find myself asking the same question and if I replace that ‘K’ with a ‘C’, the answer is the same. I ultimately decide to create memories, indulge in experiences, and high five as many people as I can.

Erik’s motto of “Head On” inspires many and Eric’s simple pronouncement repeated numerous times daily of “Easy Day” should remind us all to enjoy the journey no matter how “hard” we perceive the obstacles being thrown our way.

  • What missed opportunities are you watching go by?
  • What memories are you purposefully creating?
  • What would Erik do? What would Eric do? What are you doing?

If you would like a “Head On” Sticker (pictured above), please send me an e-mail. If you didn’t know my brother and would like a glimpse of the man he was, please consider watching this video.