Kristian: Hokie Gajan - tougher than Marines
Hokie Gajan! The name, just feels warm, sincere and genuine. That's who Hokie is. I keep referring to Hokie in the present tense, at some point I guess I have to reference him in past tense. I'm not ready to do that yet, however, I am ready to celebrate and gush over a man that truly was a one of a kind. Hokie had a knack for getting to know people and making you feel important, making you feel like you were a part of the conversation. He didn't like attention, so he enjoyed learning about you. We've shared many plane rides together, training camp trips, and radio hours together. As my time with Hokie grew, my admiration and respect grew even deeper.
I was always amazed by his toughness. Hokie would limp through airports in obvious pain with bad knees from his playing days. Gout so bad in his joints that it looked like he had rocks under his skin, but not a peep. Not one complaint came out of his mouth. He just kept moving right along. I would have understood some self-pity, he wouldn't tolerate it. If I asked him about it he would simply say "Well, what am I gonna do? I loved playing and if this is a result of playing football, I'll take it any day of the week.” Vintage #HokieTough.
When he was first diagnosed with cancer back in November, I did a show with him the day he found out. I was surprised how well he was holding up. I would have been a basket case and wouldn't have been able to do the show. Then again I'm not Hokie, not nearly as tough and nowhere close to brave. I've said this before, and I'll say it again; LOVE is word that is sometimes overused or loosely tossed about. However, I LOVE Hokie as men do, and I love him because you knew what you were getting every time you talked to him. He was just real. There was no act, nothing fake. Take it or leave it. He and I would talk often about sports, but more often about life. He was fascinated with my military service, and joked that he could have never done it. Yeah Right, Hokie would have made Marines look soft. He's that tough.
Occasionally Hokie would give me some guidance like a father about certain things going on in my life and more often than not he gave me advice as a friend. If I were stranded with no money and no food, he would be one of the people I would call, because he was dependable. I could count on Hokie. He would just say "Hang on Gomer, I'll be right there.” No questions asked.
Hokie loved people. He loved his family and loved his team mates. He's the human being we all want to be. Simple, tough, funny and a tremendous friend. RIP Hokie, go teach St. Peter how to catch that red fish.