Upon his passing, I learned of my dad's secret

For anyone that knows about my relationship with my father, the book dedication might come as a surprise. My dad mocked my teenage dream of wanting to be a published author. Instead, he pushed me to get a University degree. While I appreciate that guidance, when I learned of my dad's secret hobby upon his passing, it changed how I prioritized my life.

My dad was an accomplished poet. This secret would have been no surprise to the son of an artist, but my dad was the opposite of a man exploring his inner emotions. My dad and I hugged for the first time in my late twenties. This was after his quadruple bypass. The hug was awkward. 

We connected on an intellectual level. We talked about math and science, argued about politics, and occasionally we watched sports together. I knew my dad as many things; as a physics theorist, as a graduate of a master’s degree in electronical engineering, as a hard working immigrant that spent much of his life in Canada doing factor work, and as the head test-pilot for PZL-Bielsko in the 70s. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is, my dad wasn't an outwardly emotionally driven guy. His passing in March of 2012 was difficult to process. The discovery that he was a poet had me questioning much of what I knew about him.

My mom knew that my dad wrote poetry, but she did not realize the extent of his interest. Upon checking his emails, she learned he belonged to poetry groups, curated a popular Polish poetry website (not under his name), and he even completed a full-length poetry book. 

So yes, my dad was a poet, and I didn't know it. And clearly, I'm not a poet. It was reassuring, though, that my dad also had a creative side. 

This discovery about my dad made me think back to my inspirations when I was younger. At 18-years old, I wrote my first full-length book. By twenty, I had finished my second. One was a crime thriller, the other a fantasy fiction complete with sword fighting and demons. Both novels are digitally entombed on lost and (likely) corrupted floppy drives somewhere in my mom's basement.

Learning of my dad’s secret helped me prioritized my writing. He died with an unpublished poetry collection. I had an opportunity to change my own future.  Unlike before, I was able to focus on getting published. I've replaced some movie watching and lazy weekends with writing. The first year after his death my writing seemed to be going nowhere, but with practice, things started to change. 

In late 2013 and 2014 I wrote The Whisky Cabinet. I'm very proud of my first published book. I don't know what my dad would have outwardly said to me about this, but at least now I know that he would have secretly been proud. 

Zdzislaw Bylok (1944-2012)

Zdzislaw Bylok (1944-2012)