Over the last 44 months of my Presidency, I have had many opportunities to speak to you about my vision for our Fraternity. Living in Miami, I got used to writing my thoughts as hurricanes took aim at South Florida. As a survivor of Hurricane Andrew, I knew what to expect and planned as best I could.
As this edition of the Digital Deltan is being completed, we are faced with a global pandemic that has shaken our world to its core and it has done so in ways that we could never begin to imagine. Further, we are told that, as bad as things have been, the worst is yet to come.
As I write this letter, I am sitting in an isolated conference room in a warehouse in Doral, Florida. I am here with one of my sons. Jonathan is 32 and is autistic. He attended the Stewart Home & School in Frankfort, Kentucky for almost 12 years.
It is a phenomenal place and Jonathan has thrived there. Almost three weeks ago, the school announced that it would be closing for two weeks due to COVID-19. As a result, I jumped in my car and drove over 2,400 miles in less than 72 hours and brought Jonathan home.
Before COVID-19, Jonathan would come home every quarter and spend a week with us in Miami. Jonathan loves going out to eat when he is home, as well as, going to see the Panthers, Marlins and the Hurricanes play. He also loves an occasional trip to Dave & Busters. Obviously, Jonathan will not be enjoying any of those activities this trip.
Instead, we go to the isolated conference room every day. I am working remotely for real for the first time in my 34-year career. Jonathan works on word search puzzles and, later this week, he will start remote learning. But for the first time in almost 12 years, Jonathan and I have spent every day together (at an appropriate social distance). We have breakfast, lunch and dinner together. We walk the dogs together at night. And if all goes well, we will wash the cars together this weekend.
None of this is what I expected. Still, we are very lucky. Some of Jonathan’s school mates could not go home, because they have no living relatives. They will stay at the school along with their house parents and the school’s medical staff taking great care of them.
To my graduating undergraduate brothers, I know that many of you are deeply disappointed because your last semester of college has been changed in ways that you could not even begin to imagine. My heart goes out to each one of you. At the same time, I urge you to use this time to connect remotely with your friends and brothers.
To the rest of my undergraduate brothers, take care of yourselves, your families and pledge to one another to be the best brother you can be when school resumes (hopefully) in the fall. Make sure to make and maintain connections during the pandemic.
This afternoon I cancelled the last flight I had on my calendar. For the first time in my career, I have no flights booked. As someone who has almost 4,000,000 lifetime miles on American Airlines, this is a big deal. But my meetings (include my last spring Supreme Council meeting) will go on. It will just be on Zoom.
None of this is what we could ever imagine, but we will adapt. We will experience disappointment, but we will learn to enjoy new things. And hopefully we will learn to appreciate things we have taken for granted when life resumes as it once was. Like getting dressed for work. Or going to class. And yes, even attending a brother’s meeting.
Thank you for allowing me the privilege of being your President during good times and in bad. I wish each of you a lifetime of good health, happiness, success and brotherhood.
Cordially, Fraternally and Sincerely,
Norman M. Waas, Alpha Omega (University of Miami) 1982
Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity