Frank Eugene Stenger

Olga S. Hardman

1895 - 1967

Although unspoken, 

You said "I love you"

In many and diverse ways.

After I had been the wicked witch in

"Snow White"

You were so proud of my performance

You rewarded me with a beautiful

Black and white 'two wheeler."

On bright, brittle, winter Saturdays

When snow had covered our world,

You took us out to sled-ride down twenty-second street.

At the bottom of the hill

You stood in our presence like a sentinel bird

Protecting its flock.

After our mittens had frozen with little lumps of biting ice 

And our cheeks glowed red with the joy of laughter and cold,

You guided us all into the warmth of our bright kitchen.

After removing an assortment of boots, 

Placing an array of mittens on the furnace vents to dry,

And seating us all around the kitchen table,

You made us as many big, flat, French pancakes

As we could hold.

You showed us how to shower each surface

With brown sugar and then roll each one up,

Like a hot dog.

We giggled and howled with delight

When the brown sugar trickled out the ends.

Much later,

After I had become a parent myself

And my car had to sit outside through the cold winter nights,

It was you who lit the Coleman lantern

And placed it in the car, 

So that your three grandsons 

And your daughter would not be cold on their way to school.

Through tear-filled eyes,

I watched as you held my mother in your arms

As the life slipped away from your first-born.

After the heart attack,

As I held you in my arms,

I just couldn't whisper it enough:

"I love you, Daddy."

You were, indeed, a gentle man.

    © 1995  Olga S. Hardman