Why Papa?
Answering the Why Questions

I have written several articles about Jack and Owen and their asking why all the time. However, they were toddlers and were attempting to figure out the new world in which they found themselves. Their asking why was an indication that they wanted to understand their surroundings. The why questions were their quest for knowledge.

I was down in Indy to visit them on their birthdays at the beginning of this month. Jack is eight and Owen is six. In passing, I said that I had to get back home and pick up Ginger from her dog daycare center, and I had to do some online teaching. And then it happened. Jack said, “I didn’t know you were still teaching. I thought that you were retired. Why aren’t you retired?”

I replied that I needed to pay bills and that I was not as rich as Donald the Dumb claims that he is. While that was a cursory comment, I knew that this would be a teaching moment if I spelled out the answer to why I wasn’t retired to Jack.

So, Jack, here is a critically important teaching moment for you. I’m not going to teach you about famous paintings or fossils. You and Owen know more about either topics than most adults. You don’t remember the day you were born. In fact, I am talking about only a couple hours after your birth, but I remember it extremely well.

It was one of the greatest moments of my life. I held you in my arms. You weren’t but a couple hours old. You were my grandchild. The same thing happened fifteen years before that when I held Ayanna for the first time.

You can’t really understand that experience and how that affected me until you hold your child or grandchild in your arms for the first time. But, trust me, Jack, you will remember that feeling years from now. Additionally, when babies come into the world, we give them gifts. You get gifts on birthdays and Christmas. I have given you dozens of fossils, lots of famous paintings, and hundreds of coins. Those gifts that I gave you were to express how much I love you. That is true for Owen and Ayanna also.

So, to address your question about why I am not retired, I’m still working to pay for my house, feed Ginger, and to give gifts to my family. On your birthday a couple weeks ago, Sacagawea gave you some coins and a letter. She explained who she was and what she wanted you to do. “Always try to help the less fortunate people you meet. You can help them with school work or help them when they don’t feel good. People have helped you; help others in return.”

That means that your family extends to other people. While they don’t live in your home, they are still a part of your family. Kids, with whom you go to school, are a part of your family. It is important that you understand who encompasses your family. Jack, we live in a troubled world. Our president talks about America First. He is saying that America is more important than other countries. That isn’t what America is…. America is a part of a family of nations.

Our president is also babbling about what is important to him. He doesn’t care about people that don’t look like him. His family is made up of people with whom he lived. It is both stupid and selfish to be concerned only about.

You have seen pictures of my family in Taunggyi, Myanmar. You have seen pictures of Ti Ti. When I met Ti Ti four years ago, she was about the age that you are now. She wasn’t a newborn baby. She was nine. We played Scrabble for an hour. However, when I left her home, I had the same feeling that I did when I held you just after you were born. You know how much I love you, Owen, and Ayanna. However, I have the same feelings for Ti Ti.

When I returned to Myanmar at Christmas, I was able to spend time with Ti Ti, but I also got to know Snow and Fatty. When I met Ti Ti four years before, Snow was four and Fatty was two. Jack, Ti Ti, Snow, Fatty, and their parents are a part of my family. My week with them was the best week of my life. I was sad when I had to return to the States and leave them. We had dinner together my last evening with them, and they took me to my hotel. Early the next morning, I was picked up by my driver who drove me to Ngapali and then back to the States.

However, halfway to the airport, my driver pulled to the side of the road. I looked up and saw Ko Ko. He thanked me for the note to him and his wife that I had given to Ti Ti the night before, and Ko Ko gave me a note from Moh Moh. Jack, I still cry when I read that note. I won’t see them for a couple of years. However, I framed her note, and it is on the wall two feet from me.

Jack, we are family. My family here in the States and my family in Myanmar are all one family. We all care for and support each other. I have told Ti Ti, Snow, and Fatty about you and Owen. They want me to bring you to visit them on my next trip. You and Owen would like Snow and Fatty.

This brings me to We Are Family. If Ti Ti, Snow, and Fatty are my grandchildren, what about the kids with whom they attend school. They are a part of my extended family also. I am beginning the process of raising $500,000 so that I can improve Internet reception at the two schools to which they go. I need to do that because I want to give the two schools laptops for each student to use. That means that I need to buy 1250 laptops. Now, I don’t have a half million dollars. Therefore, I am in the process of raising the money that I need.

Therefore, I hope that I can return to Myanmar during winter break in another eighteen months. I am asking contributors to donate money to We Are Family, email their friends to do the same, and to return with me with the laptops.

I can’t afford to retire and achieve my dreams. However, not retiring doesn’t have to be connected to making money. Not retiring has to do with your purpose in life. It has to do with who your family is. If a person’s family is merely those who live with that person in the same house or are genetically related, those people are into themselves. They don’t care about all the others. Remember what Sacagawea wrote to you. “Always try to help the less fortunate people you meet. You can help them with school work or help them when they don’t feel good. People have helped you; help others in return.”

Jack, that is why am not retired. And it is the best thing that has happened to me.

Burma flag

Burmese independence flag

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We Are Family

"We Are Family"

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On Seeing the Light

On Seeing the Light

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Forrest Gump Film Poster

Forrest Gump, "Stupid is as stupid does."

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Donald the Dumb

Donald the Dumb

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