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  • 365 Faces / 148

    My dad is one of the smartest people I know, but he is the last one to know it. Born and raised in a small town in Poland, he taught himself eight languages, and became a nuclear physicist and a technical translator.

    At 84-years old, he can still quote phrases from books, converts miles to kilometers and Fahrenheit to Celsius in his head, and remembers names of places and people he met 80 years ago. He is a good man, but not a happy one except when he walks through a forest or tends to his evergreen seedlings in clay pots on his tiny apartment’s balcony.

    Born before WWII he lived most of his life behind the Iron Curtain. As a teenager I left then a communist Poland, before fully realizing or suffering from the systematic extinction of human spirit performed on my People by the Big Brother next door.

    It was my Tata that taught me how to be curious, and how to spark a conversation with strangers – which was not our custom there, but has served me well in America. He showed my how to enjoy tiny gifts, and during lazy summer months on a windy beach -- how to patiently polish Baltic Sea pebbles against each other into tiny hearts.

    They say happiness comes from within, yet I often wonder how different my Father’s life might have been were he born in and shaped by the Free World. But -- I will never know, and so I will keep on loving him the way he is, my melancholic diamond in the rough daddy.
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