Sunday, June 20, 2021

A Poem About My Father

 Happy Father's Day!

Let me introduce you to my father...

Frank H. Walsh (1912-1985)


In memory of Frank H. Walsh ~ 1912-1985


I went to see The King’s Speech

the other night

This started me thinking about my father

who became a stutterer

as a result of nervousness derived

from his childhood battle

with crippling poliomyelitis


With child eyes

I never saw him crippled

though he walked with a pronounced limp

one leg being shorter than the other

He wore a heavy-soled shoe

reinforced with steel with a metal brace

attached that extended up to his knee


I didn’t think of him as a stutterer either

though he had great difficulty

saying what he wanted to say

stammering over, over and over

trying to get the words to spring

from his tangled tongue


To me, he was just Dad

…ordinary Dad


Looking back now, I think of him

as extraordinary and tenacious

a “can-do” kind of father

…even an overcomer


Handicaps never seemed

to handicapped him

never kept him from doing

anything he set his mind to—


He wasn’t a builder, but

he built the house we grew up in

and a bungalow next door for Grandma

did all the plumbing, electrical work

installed the drywall, spackled, painted

built porches, set the sidewalks

climbed a ladder to the roof

He built a patio with an outdoor fireplace

and a cement wading pool, too

He erected a coop for chickens

which he raised from fertilized eggs

He slaughtered them

mom cleaned and we ate them

for Sunday dinner

He also plowed the backyard

and planted a big vegetable garden


You name it, he did it

and usually did it well


He sang “Heart of My Heart” and

“You Can Have Her, I Don’t Want Her,

She’s Too Fat for Me”

without any stammer at all

danced to a rollicking “Beer Barrel” polka

with his heavy shoe thumping the floor

and I’m told he even pedaled

his bike once, all the way up Skyline Drive


Dad took us on vacations every summer

usually tent camping at Bear Mountain

or the Adirondacks or Truro at Cape Cod

setting up camp and cots mostly himself


He built outboard motorboats,

Water Lily and Water Lily II

and a blue egg-shaped camper trailer

which he hitched to the back of our car


He brewed root beer

bottled it and we drank it

even though it was flat and fizz-less

and he brewed beer beer

I can still remember the smell

of it fermenting in a huge crock

in our spare room


When I was a child

I thought all daddies did those things

And when I got married

I thought husbands did those things


To say he was remarkable

seems an understatement—

I only hope some of the stuff he was made of

has worked its way into the bones and marrow

into the blood and sinews

into the gray that matters

into our Walsh family genes


Maude Carolan Pych

The above poem appears in my 411-page

memoir in poetry titled, Wonderhoods.

Ordering information can be found on my website or blog:


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