Happy Birthday Snow
You Are 13

Six months from now, on January 20th, I’ll turn eighty. By then, I will be nearly as old as Methuselah and look like him.

My predecessor, Methuselah

However, your birthday is today, July 22nd, and you turned thirteen. You are now a teenager. When we first met, you were four.

What is my take-away from that photo? I took this of you and Fatty at your preschool. The first thing that struck me was how driven you are. You were listening intently to everything that your teacher was saying. I wish more of the college students I am teaching would be as interested in learning as you.

Also, you are left-handed like me. Nevertheless, many famous women are lefties also: Joan of Arc, Queen Victoria, Helen Keller, Marie Curie, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and Oprah Winfrey.

That being said, none of those famous lefties picked mango in the backyards of their homes.

Snow, this is a montage of memories of you.

This link is a video of you working to cool me off during a hot day in Bagan.

Snow, these photos bring back loads of memories about you. However, there is another picture that is my favorite. When I returned for my second trip, your parents told you about who I was, since you were only four on my first trip. However, I would have loved to listen to Ti Ti explain to you and Fatty who I was. In fact, Ti Ti named me PaPa Al.

During that time together on that second visit, you were happy to meet me, but you needed time to grasp who that American really was. I was getting ready to return to the States. Before saying good-bye, we went for a walk. The details about our walk have long since melted away in my memory. However, I clearly recall leaving your home for a walk. I’m sure that your sisters were with us and probably your parents.

We couldn’t have been a few steps from your home when you reached out and took ahold of my hand. You didn’t say anything, nor did you look at me. You just kept looking ahead and walking. Snow was an eight-year-old wanting to express her love. I don’t recall how long we walked hand in hand, but I will never forget that expression of quiet love.

Before I left to return to the States, your family took me out for dinner and then drove me to my hotel. Your dad drove, and Ti Ti sat between him and your mother. Essentially, the adults sat in the front seat, and the three kids, Fatty, you, and I, were in the backseat. I was sitting in the middle between Fatty and you. As their father started to drive to the hotel, I reached over and took ahold of your hand. I precisely followed what you did on our walk. I said nothing, nor did I look at you.

Two years later, during my winter break from teaching, I returned for my third visit with my family. One of my gifts for you, Ti Ti, and Fatty, was a small box containing a brooch for each of you. After attending DNNA’s awards assembly, our family went on our family tour together.

Just before I returned to America, I said my good-byes to my family. It was then that you gave me a Christmas gift. It was the box that had her brooch in it. Snow, you replaced my gift to you with your gift to me.

Snow, I dearly love you, Ti Ti, and Fatty. The three of you are my grandchildren. I love your parents also. We are family, and I miss you all.