My Daddy has a shiny bald head,
He must have been born that way
‘Cause I’ve never seen him with hair.
He is “stout,” actually, “portly stout,”
Said the man in the ‘spensive store.
Mommy is taking tailoring lessons
So she can make him clothes that actually fit.
My Daddy has a very nice smile,
And he means it, too.
Mommy says that if somebody at work
Has a problem–any kind of problem–
They call him in to help fix it.
My Daddy is late for things all the time.
Mommy says that
“He’ll be late for his own funeral.”
When they had their first date,
My Daddy works for a bank.
He has a “head for numbers,” Mommy says
But he doesn’t show off about it.
He likes to read but is very, very slow.
He usually reads in his recliner chair
With the TV on,
And then he falls asleep,
With his glasses on and
His book open face down,
Open to the page he was reading
With his stomach as a bookmark.
Sometimes he snores.
I don’t understand it
Because when I wake him up,
He opens his eyes right away and
Then he smiles and says,
“I was just resting my eyes.”
He asks me, “What can I do for you?”
My Daddy wakes up around 11 p.m. then–
He goes to work at his desk at home.
He has his pencil behind his right ear.
He writes numbers in a big book he calls a ledger.
Mommy says she worries about him
Because he stays up all night sometimes.
He looks happy when he’s working.
If he has to think real hard about something,
He puts his hand up to his forehead
And holds his head in place with his thumb and two fingers.
My Daddy took me and Mommy
And our out-of-town guests
To the basement of the bank last week.
He was very proud of the new computer
That he put there. He had it brought to the bank,
One of the first banks to have one.
The computer took up the whole wall;
There were key punch machines.
He punched one of the cards for us
With little holes like rectangles.
He said they are “fed” into the computer.
Computers must be very hungry.
My Daddy took care of me when I was born,
For the first month of my life
While my Mommy was sick in the hospital.
Later on she found the schedule he wrote,
“6 a.m. wake up, feed baby, 6:30 say prayers,
6:45 change baby and wash diapers,
7:30 eat breakfast, 8:00 feed baby, 8:30 get dressed,
9:00 feed baby…” Looks like I was eating all day.
(I have the paper in my scrapbook.)
They said I had colic–for three months.
My Daddy is not a colicky person.
He likes to eat the strangest things,
Pickled pigs feet canned by his Aunt,
Frog legs on a Friday at a restaurant,
Muskrat (EE-U!) at our church supper,
And marrow he sucks out of beef bones.
(He says, “That’s the best part!)
I’m glad I don’t have to have any of that.
Whenever our relatives on his side of the family
Get together at Auntie’s house–every two weeks–
We have a big feast. Some of the things I like to eat:
Her black cherry pirogis fried in butter
And with sour cream on top,
Babka rice cake, and canned peaches from her yard.
My Daddy and the other men play poker and talk in Polish.
Some of them are Ukrainian
But they seem to understand Polish anyway.
My Daddy talks Polish, but that is the only place.
And when he talks English there, he puts on an accent.
We all have a good time.
My Daddy helps out not just at the bank.
He counts the money after the church festival
(And he taught me how to load pennies
Into a paper wrapper.)
Once he ran for school board.
Daddy is an usher on Sundays at church.
Afterwards, when everybody is gone,
He closes all the high-up windows with a long pole.
Bang! Bang! Bang!
After church, when I was little,
He would sometimes take me to the bank.
I had to climb up the high, slippery, marble steps
With no handrail,
So he would take my hand.
The bank was so quiet–nobody in there
–And it smelled like erasers.
He would work at his desk
After he sat me down in front of an adding machine.
My Daddy helped me last year
When I was having a lot of trouble
With my times tables.
Everybody else in class seemed to be catching on
My teacher sent a note home,
Saying that I needed extra help.
Daddy right away took me to his desk at home.
He sat me down on the chair next to his
And began to drill.
He would mix up the list
And go over the ones I missed.
Sometimes I would cry.
We worked for a couple of hours
And when we were done
I had learned them all!
And I still remember them–
And I will always remember him.