I Never Miss a Teaching Moment
But Who Benefits

As I journey down my yellow brick road, there are three things that I genuinely love: my family in Myanmar, Ginger, and teaching. Several evenings ago, I was sitting in front of my computer as Ginger was resting at my feet. It was then that I got an email from Ti Ti.

Dear Papa Al,

How are you? I hope you are in the best of health. Is your leg feeling better? My mom told me about your surgery. I hope you are doing well.

I am doing well in my school. I made a lot of new friends and I love the lessons. Last week, my school chose class president, vice president etc. for 1st year. And guess what? I won the presidential election again and I was chosen to be class president for 3 years.

My Karate class is now open through online hosting so Fatty and I are attending it. It’s been a long time since we played Karate so my body aches buy I am sure I’ll be better in no time.

Is Ginger doing okay? I hope she’s also doing well. I am doing great in my classes and my new friends love me.

It’s almost time for my Karate class,so I’ll stop here. Get well soon. (^∇^)ノ Bye for now.

Ti Ti

This is a video of Ti Ti and Fatty’s karate class.

Ti Ti and her two sisters bring absolute happiness to me during my days of hobbling around my home. Talk about what drives me. I have a purpose for life. This was my reply to Ti Ti’s email.

Ti Ti,

As for my surgery, it was to be a simple operation…like 20 minutes. My podiatrist would merely cut a part of the tendon that connects the toes to the heel. The tendon is the cause of my plantar fasciitis. He did address the plantar fasciitis, but the major problem wasn’t that.

The ankle bone has nerves running through a hole in the bone. Tarsal tunnel surgery involves cutting open a 5–6 inch incision from the heel to the ankle bone. This is not me, but I will have some photos soon, about which I will write an article.


I must have had problems with pinch nerves, which he cut. That will give more space and less pain in the tarsal tunnel. However, my podiatrist sewed me up with eight stitches after the cutting of the nerves. Then he wrapped the ankle very tightly with rolls of gauze. After that, he put a brace on the back of my leg from just below the knee to the heel, which he tightly wrapped also. That procedure is designed to avoid inadvertently ripping the stitches out. Ginger has already jumped up on my bed and landed on my ankle.

Fortunately, all the wrapping protected my incision. The surgeon changed the gauze yesterday and rewrapped everything again. Next Monday, he will repeat it. The following week, he will remove the packing.

Now, for the important stuff. YOU. In Asia, there is a reverence for older people due to them being wise. Old people acquire wisdom from learning from their mistakes in life. Hey, I’m old…and wise.

And you are telling me that you enjoy college, have been reelected as the class president, and are doing well grade-wise. What? Ti Ti, do you think that I’m dumb? I told you that you were gifted after you beat me at Scrabble a decade ago.

Now, Dr. PaPa Al wants to tell you to exercise your feet…to avoid arch pain, which can cause plantar fasciitis.

Finally, Fatty sent me this note in an email….

I love you, Snow, and Fatty. My granddaughters are the crème de la crème in my life. You all have unique personal greatness.

Your mother and I argue about how your parents can repay me for caring for my three granddaughters along with A Ngal Lay. We have this tiff every couple of months. I love your mother, but…. (-;

I tell her that I’m the luckiest guy in the world, and it all started with you.

Oops! I nearly forgot. I love you, Ti Ti. You mentioned getting reelected as your class present. There is a recent essay on my website about school boards in America. This is a copy of the first paragraph:

Forty-three years ago, I decided to run for a seat on the Dixon, IL school board. I don’t know what caused me to do that. It was just the right thing to do. So, in 1978, I ran and won. It was the second win of the only two times that I ever ran for something. The first time was when I ran for student body president in graduate school.

PaPa Al

Now, my three granddaughters and their parents will read this article and smile. However, what is it that I want my readers to take away from this article?

I came up with an accurate one-liner years ago—“It is in giving that we get.” That is an essential insight into how we should live our lives. I couldn’t have been the only person in the world that came up with that idea. So, I googled it. St. Francis of Assisi came up with this statement centuries ago, “For it is in giving that we receive,” which was part of the Prayer of St. Francis.

I have known what St. Francis said most of my life and thought I understood his comment. I didn’t. It wasn’t until I met my family before I truly grasped his statement. The more you give, the more you get. Give words of encouragement, gift, money, or whatever, and you will also benefit. Actually, the giver gets more. I genuinely believe that.

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