Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dad, √6, and Slumdog

Today would have been my dad's 84th birthday.

And I've been saving a story my brother, Keith, told me back in November for just this day.

Keith's daughter, Dylan, and her boyfriend were sitting in his kitchen one evening doing math homework. Keith was milling around the kitchen, casually hearing but not really listening to them frustratedly work through a problem. Irritated at the snag they'd hit, and not really expecting an answer, Dylan blurts out,"Dad! What's the square root of 6?"

He immediately replied, "2.449."

He had to assure them that this really was the answer; he hadn't made it up. He knew it because of my dad. Dad ended every letter he ever wrote any of us with the square root of a number, the most famous of which was 6. This practice had its origin in his college days. Dad had relayed the story about a professor he had had at Lambuth College in Jackson, TN. Whenever that professor came into the class, he would go straight to the chalk board and write out a square root to a ridiculous number of places past the decimal. For instance:

\scriptstyle \sqrt {6}\scriptstyle \approx2.44948974278317809819728407470589139196594748065667
Well, maybe not as ridiculous as this many numbers past, but enough to impress my dad. For us, Dad just wrote 2.449. As soon as Keith told his daughter this story, she said, "Wow. This is a such a slumdog moment!"

I love this story.
I love that Dylan voiced the slumdog* connection.
I love the passing on of family history from one generation to another.
I love being reminded of my dad and his weekly letters. (and the $20 usually included)
I love being reminded of those numbers that were always somewhere close to the words, "love, Dad."

I think he smiled when he wrote them.
I'm smiling as I remember them.
I'm smiling as I remember him.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

*If you haven't seen the movie, Slumdog Millionaire, it's worth watching.


  1. This makes me smile too as I think of your dad!! What a cool story!

  2. Loved that story, too! Thanks for sharing it :)