aka Eppie

There is a difference between bragging about your grandchildren and being braggadocious. In my last article about Fatty, I wasn’t just blowing a lot of meaningless smoke about my youngest granddaughter. Fatty is exceptional. However, her two older sisters are equally extraordinary. This essay is about Snow, who is two years older than Fatty. This is a picture of Snow and Fatty on the day that I meet them just over six years ago while they attended their preschool.

Their mother was my tour guide on my first journey to Myanmar. I had met Ti Ti at their home before visiting the two younger siblings. Ti Ti naively challenged me in a game of Scrabble during stopping at her home. She thought that she could beat some old guy from America. We spent an hour playing Scrabble and much of the time was really spent laughing. However, at the end of the game, she added up the score: she did beat me and reminds me all the time.

Finding my family in Myanmar radically changed me. Years before, I had danced with death. My two dances were positive changes in the way that I saw life. If my first journey changed me, the second one surpassed the first trip by far.

While I had meet both Snow and Fatty on my first adventure, Snow was only four and Fatty was two. However, add four years between my first and second trip, Snow was now eight and Fatty was six. During those four years, Ti Ti and their parents told the younger two about me. Ti Ti named me, PaPa Al. Snow accepted that moniker, but Fatty refused to call me PaPa Al. She preferred Bo Bo Gyi.

All three girls are quite intelligent and caring at the same time. Read what Fatty wanted for her birthday. Ti Ti won the best in math of all students in Shan State. Snow is equally brilliant.

Snow ponders, questions, and wonders. This picture of Snow was taken a couple of years before I took the photo at their preschool. Snow was around two years old but look at her eyes. Snow is always in thought.

However, she enjoys living life and having fun.

All writers have this problem, which is shared with the rest of the world. None of us can share wonderous times with another person unless both parties were present at some event. We can provide data, details, and emotions about an occasion, but it isn’t like being there for the listener. I haven’t come close to mastering the ability to turn a story that happened to me into a shared event with my readers. I wish my words could transport my readers to Myanmar and my family like a present-day time traveler. At one level, I try to approximate feelings and sheer joy. However, as I am writing this essay, I feel that I am providing correct words and phrases about events, but all my words seem hollow and don’t fully resonate.

Perhaps, I am not writing to you. Maybe, this essay is only addressed to Snow. That’s probably true; it is addressed to her. She quietly knows all the story before I write a single word. She is quiet and ponders our bond of love. I am doing the same in this article. Maybe, this essay is my way of saying, “I love you, Snow especially on this Valentine’s Day. I love you, Ti Ti, Fatty, and your parents. It is a very happy Valentine’s Day for our family.”

This is an example of Snow’s learning curve. A couple of days before I had to leave my family and return home after my second trip, Snow and I were walking someplace. I’m sure others were with us, and we were going somewhere. Nevertheless, I don’t recall any details about that moment in time. However, I do recall and will be remember that event of being with Snow as long as I am live.

While Snow is smart, she is very quiet, but she is always thinking. Amid her observing quietude, she scans the situation as if she is a human radar. Ti Ti and her parents spoke about me before I returned. She processed that. She was told that she had met me, but she was too young to recall. They told her about me. However, she verified those statements by looking and watching me on that second trip.

I assume that I was walking with the three girls and maybe their parents. We had just left their home. Regardless, we hadn’t taken more than a couple of steps before Snow takes ahold of my hand. She didn’t say anything; she merely held my hand and continued to walk. Honestly, I don’t have any idea how long we walked hand in hand. What I do remember was the euphoric experience, which seemed timeless. While not a word was spoken, I heard her express her love and caring for her PaPa Al.

On the last evening that I was with my family, Ko Ko was driving us to a restaurant owned by a family friend. Moh Moh and Ti Ti were sitting in the front seat, and I was sitting between Fatty and Snow in the backseat. Essentially, the adults were in the front, and the children were in the back. I couldn’t have wanted more. We weren’t in the car for more than a few seconds. I thought to myself, if Snow wanted to show me that she loved me, I would express how I felt about her. I took ahold of her hand. As with the first time, we held hands without saying anything. We just enjoyed that connection. I was like a 21st century version of Silas Marner. I’ll never forget holding hands with Snow. Snow, like her sisters, is the incarnation of Eppie.

In old days there were angels who came and took men by the hand and led them away from the city of destruction. We see no white-winged angels now. But yet men are led away from threatening destruction: a hand is put into theirs, which leads them forth gently towards a calm and bright land, so that they look no more backward; and the hand may be a little child's.

A month ago, during winter break from teaching, I returned to visit my family for the third time. Those several weeks of traveling with my family are hard for me to put into words that emotionally express the sheer joy that we all felt. It is like you telling me about an immensely wonderful time you spent with some family members or friends. While you and I can affirm that the other person is truly expressing the details and feelings as they occurred, unless we were sharing those moments, words don’t resonate in the same manner as the one that is experiencing that euphoric moment in time.

When I returned during winter break two months ago to visit my family, Snow and I walked again without saying anything…. We quietly walked hand in hand. The only thing that changed was that Snow often held me with both of her hands. Apparently, her radar indicated that I was getting older. This time holding hands required her caring hands to assist me on my bumpy, yellow brick road of life. She expressed her love along with her protective caring. Snow must have thought that I was getting really old.

Snow gave me a Christmas gift so that I will remember her. It is now on my bookshelf. Snow, rest assured that I will never forget you. This essay is my Valentine’s Day greeting to you. “I will always love you, Snow.”

So, this story is about Snow and me. However, there are other Snows out there, and you can find them if you look. Trust me. Snow, Fatty, Ti Ti, and their parents have profoundly changed me. I am an extremely lucky person.