Bob Frisk: A passage in time as grandson graduates from high school

  • Bob Frisk spent 50 years as a high school sports advocate and columnist for the Daily Herald.

      Bob Frisk spent 50 years as a high school sports advocate and columnist for the Daily Herald. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Mark Alesia, the grandson of Bob Frisk, will attend the University of Minnesota next fall.

    Mark Alesia, the grandson of Bob Frisk, will attend the University of Minnesota next fall. submitted photo COURTESY OF BOB FRISK

Posted6/3/2016 5:30 AM

Dear Mark,

Grandson, did I miss a month? Or two or three or four or more? Where did all the years go?


You can't possibly be 18 and ready to graduate on Saturday, June 11, from Madison West High School in Wisconsin and then enter the University of Minnesota in the fall.

Incredibly, your high school graduation has arrived. I wrote you annual letters in the Daily Herald for the first 10 years of your life until I retired in 2008. Readers got to know you and saw your picture as you grew up on these pages. And then the letters stopped as I entered a new chapter in my life.

Because of encouragement from friends, which I sincerely appreciated, I decided to write you another letter when you entered high school in 2012.

I'm back again today, four years later.

"Climb every mountain. Ford every stream.

"Follow every rainbow ... till you find your dream."

People perceive and respond to music in different ways. You can't deny its power. I'll admit I'm not in tune with today's pop music scene, but I hope you cut me some slack. Remember, I'm a senior citizen, who soon hits The Big 8-0.

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I'm the kind of guy who will stop and listen to Bette Midler's "Wind Beneath My Wings" or John Lennon's "Imagine" or Paul McCartney's "Yesterday." There's very little that Frank Sinatra contributed over the years that I don't like. Maybe this all makes me a little square in the eyes of today's teenagers, but I am comfortable with that.

There's another piece of music that really gets to me and it involves these same teenagers and is heard across the country at this time of the year. Mark, you and your high school graduates will be a part of an event that has music with melodies that convey a complex of emotions, that sounds triumphant but with an underlying quality of nostalgia.

The strains of "Pomp and Circumstance" will be heard everywhere. Parents and grandparents will be smiling and crying and straining for a glimpse of their new graduate.

Cameras will be poised and ready for action and that cherished family picture. Diplomas will be presented as students' tickets to the world in their future.


Mark, since your last name is Alesia, I understand you will be No. 6 of 500 Madison West seniors to cross the stage at the Kohl Center.

For many graduates, that diploma takes them to college and another challenging test to measure your tolerance to stress. Music, smiles, tears, hugs, speeches ... they're all part of this annual high school graduation ritual that sends our young people, our future, marching from one phase of their lives to another.

Ah, the speeches. Does anybody really listen on graduation day?

I'm not going to report I remember what was said at my Arlington High School graduation in 1954 or even at our daughter Susan's graduation from Prospect High School in 1984.

I don't need to remember the words. The themes had to be the same as they are today. They're good themes. You should listen.

Mark, you will be told that instead of thinking about where you are, you should think about where you want to be.

You will be told you always pass failure on the way to success.

You will be told that if you don't fail now and again, it's a sign you're playing it safe.

You will be told to never play it safe, to understand the world and to change it where it needs to be changed and leave it alone where it doesn't.

You will be told that success is not so much what you have as what you are.

You will be told to believe in something larger than yourself.

You will be told to cherish your human connections, your relationships with family and friends as if your life depended on it because it does.

You will be told to never allow yourself to become one of those people who, when they are old, complain about how they missed their chance in life.

You will be told that your only obligation in any lifetime is to be true to yourself.

You will be told that it is not how much you have, but how much you enjoy, that makes happiness.

You will be told that the things that are easiest to measure are the least important. It's the intangibles -- caring, spirit, joy, love, trust -- that matter the most.

Mark, you will be told that material possessions rust away, wear away or depreciate, but character alone will never tarnish.

You will be told that the one person who can keep you from achieving your goal is the one you see in the mirror.

You will be told to make your life a mission, not an intermission.

You will be told not to desire just to fit in but desire to oblige yourself to lead.

You will be told to listen to people around you because none of us is really smart enough to go it alone.

You will be told that everybody has talent; it's just a matter of moving around until you've discovered what it is.

You will be told that nothing in your life will be as satisfying as making a difference in somebody else's life.

You will be told to stay passionate because passion, above all, is a remedy against boredom.

You will be told to carry laughter wherever you go.

You will be told that pride is in the effort more than the result.

You will be told that each day of the journey ahead is precious and that you must strive to make it a masterpiece.

Mark, you will be told all those things and many more.

Please listen and then go out and do something positive with the rest of your life as you make the transition from Madison West Regent to Minnesota Golden Gopher.

Continue searching, harder, deeper, faster, stronger and louder and knowing that one day you'll be called upon to use all that you have gained in the process.

Let how you live your life stand for something, no matter how small and incidental it may seem. Remember, this is it. This is all you get. So love this life.

I am so very proud of you, Mark, and your parents, Susan and Tom. Your first 18 chapters have been a joy to watch and I now wish you a remaining life of passion, action, integrity and participation to add to a long and fulfilling story.

Congratulations, grandson, on your graduation from high school.

Love, Grandpa

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