Ti Ti
My Granddaughter and Poet Laurate

I realize that I am a grandfather, which means that I tend to do whatever my granddaughters ask. It started over six years ago with Ti Ti. I had just met her, and she was asking for something. She wanted to play Scrabble with me. So, what did I do? I followed Laozi’s Taoist mindset…I went with the flow. That nine year old kid and this old man played Scrabble for about forty-five minutes.

While I wasn’t as mentally sharp as I am usually, I lost to this a kid who lived near Inle Lake. It was humiliating, but I have put being beaten by that kid behind me. Besides, Ti Ti was the bridge that tied my family in the States to her family in Myanmar. I have been back twice since my first visit to Myanmar. I’m planning to return for my fourth visit in a year and a half. My fifth trip will be to see Ti Ti graduate from college. Apparently, the kid is smart, beautiful, charming, artistic, etc.

Before I went back the second time, Ti Ti asked for something else. She was working on poem about the two of us. However, she wanted me to finish her poem. Well, that was beyond the pale or a bridge too far. I told Ti Ti that I needed to turndown that request. I wasn’t going to finish some kid’s poem. Besides, I had a better idea.

In my email rejecting her request, I countered it with mine. I told her, in no uncertain terms, that she was to write her own poem about us. However, I would write my own poem about us. She accepted my challenge. It was then that I realized that my counteroffer meant that I had to write a poem quickly.

When I went back the third time, we all went on a tour as a family to places like Bagan, Loikaw, Yangon, Pindaya Caves, Pan Pet, Inle Lake, Ngwe Taung Dam, Mount Popa, Set Set Yo, rode on an elephant, and floated in a hot air balloon to name some of our destinations and attractions.

While we were driving back to our hotel in Bagan, I noticed that Ti Ti was busy writing something on several small pieces of paper. The small sheets of paper were from a note pad that the Hotel Umbra put in their guest rooms. I asked her about what she was doing. She replied that she was working on a poem about a part of our tour. We had just visited Mount Popa and were returning to our hotel in Bagan. She was reminiscing about our singing, watching monkeys play, and eating quail eggs as we meandered around that part of Myanmar.

Ti Ti showed me her rough draft of a future poem. I asked whether I could take her notes and write about my creative granddaughter’s writing ability. I had told her about going to high school in Mt. Lebanon, PA. I hated the assignment of having to memorize a hundred lines of poetry or prose each semester. However, after graduating from high school in 1961, I still can recall many of the lines that I had memorized six decades ago. In some cases, I can recall several stanzas. I have written many essays about these poems or prose. Last week, I wrote about The Bridge Builder, which pretty well described my purpose in life.

These are the notes that Ti Ti wrote while we were driving back to Hotel Umbra in Bagan.

Sometime between now and my next visit with my family, Ti Ti will sit down and refine these notes into a lovely poem. I expect that she will be a poet laurate in Myanmar by the age of twenty-one. Ti Ti is the most brilliant young lady that I know. If you think that she is beautiful, it pales in comparison to the beautiful young lady who is inside. She is caring, creative, and always thinking. She is as funny as she is serious. I don’t know anyone that is excellent in math and science while she is extremely artistic in all the art forms. She can write poetry and decorate cakes.

မကြာသေးမီက Bo Bo Gyi လူ့ဇာတိကိုခံယူပြီး Papa Al ဟုခေါ်သောဤလှပသော၊ ချစ်စရာကောင်းသော၊ အသိဉာဏ်ရှိပြီးဖန်တီးမှုရှိသောမိန်းမပျိုအတွက်ကြားရအောင်။

If your unable to translate this from Myanmar into English, allow me to do so. “Let's hear it for this beautiful, charming, intelligent, creative young lady who is the granddaughter of a recent incarnation of Bo Bo Gyi and is also called Papa Al.”