Three R’s

Reading, Writing & Arithmetic

I remember now that the “Three Rs” were basic to one’s education when I was a new student in grade school. When my first teacher, Mrs. Heffington, stated “Reading, Writing & Arithmetic” are the “Three Rs”, I got nervous and confused about what I thought I already knew. 

Actually, my 7-year-old mind felt captive to my realization that the first letters of the three words, “Reading, Writing and Arithmetic” are so obviously “R,W & A”.

Reading and Research

After an early supper that evening, I was sitting with my father in his home office, drawing pictures until I asked him, “So, what are you working on, Dad?” His one-word reply, Research, had a ring of excitement in it, as if a discovery was about to be unveiled.

Then, when I asked Dad what research was, he replied, “It is searching out information with a desire to know the truth in something or someone.” Amidst my unseasoned experience, I had no set ideas as to what “knowing the Truth” meant — or with any other profundity, for that matter.

Moments later, Dad looked over at me, and asked, “What are you working on these days, son?” After a moment’s puzzlement, I answered, “At my new school? Oh yeah, the 3 R’s”.

“Oh, ok — What are the 3 R’s?” The twinkle in his kindly eyes told me what I already knew: To any question my father ever asked me (or most anyone else), he knew the answer already.

Instantly on a roll, I blew into a two-minute windstorm of a mini-speech with the impassioned finish line, “That’s Why I KNOW that the three R’s is a wrong word for those three words!”

In the moments after my last exclamation, the silence in the room was deafening, while I stared at my feet. I was so startled by my own catharsis that I felt suspended in motion.

When I finally looked up, I saw my father’s kind face with compassionate eyes enfolding me. 

Whereas a man as brilliant as my father might have been apt to coldly patronize me —
Or a man not of such fine character as Dad embodying indifference or downright perfunctory dismissal —
Or a man occupied with an outlook so analytical as to ask questions like:
— Well now, are “the three R’s” one word or are they actually a phrase?
— Are they “wrong”, as in right vs. wrong, or are they merely inaccurate?
— Do you really know all this, or is it only your speculation or one of your assumptions?
— If you think that you really know, how could you really know?

When my father finally took a slow, deep breath, his gently spoken words were these:
“Well son, I realized today that my research — my reading and study with a desire to know the truth in something and someone — also has three primary R’s that anchor its meaning in words:

RECEIVING all elements of any situation without resistance or reserve;
RESPECTING the Truth of Life in other human Beings, as I respect my own True Being; and
RELISHING each and every precious moment of Life, as I fully Live each blessed Day granted.

The spirit of my Dad still abides with me and in me, and always will …
Thank You, Father …

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