Me and My Dad

Roy Gerard, age 24, March 1944

Christmas 2011
When I was a little girl, I loved to go to my dad’s office
and watch him work on enormous adding machines. He entered the numbers and then
pushed a big button. A huge noise ensued and then the answer appeared on the
tape that came out of the machine. I thought that the adding machine was
magical. Arithmetic came hard to me and the idea that a machine could come up
with the answer so rapidly seemed absolutely fantastic. I just wanted to touch
that machine and make it work.
My dad enjoyed his adding machines but what he really wanted
was a calculator. A calculator did the same thing as an adding machine, but it
was much smaller and less noisy. When calculators first came out, however, they
were very expensive and kind of clunky.
Eventually, prices came down, the machines became more
sophisticated, and my dad purchased his first calculator. Once he did, he was
hooked on calculators. He made a calculator collection. He had calculators of
all shapes and sizes. He had regular calculators and calculators with esoteric
functions. He had fun playing with his calculators. He also had fun showing me
how to play with calculators after I failed to absorb his lessons on how to add
in my head.
My dad, however, had no trouble adding in his head. That was
his special gift. He was an absolute whiz with numbers. He could add and
subtract in his head almost as fast as the calculators that he loved so much.
My dad, an economist who ran a business called Economic Consultants
Organization, especially enjoyed doing statistical analyses and population
My dad loved manipulating numbers. He worked with census
data and he collected data in his own original research. He did a wide range of
research for businesses, school districts, and communities. The effect of his
work is still being felt in a variety of communities. For example, his research
on agriculture in Western New York resulted in the farmers market being
established in downtown Buffalo. That farmers market is still going strong
after a number of years. My dad was so proud of that.
My dad also shared his love of numbers with me in ways that
I was not taught in school. He shared with me the magic of numbers, especially
the numbers three and nine. He pointed out that our birthdates, both his and
mine, were perfect days because the dates added up to a number that could be
divisible by three. His birthday was March 3rd, 1920, or 3-3-1920.
My birthday is September 27th, 1956, or 9-27-1956. He let me know
that, when you multiply any number by nine, the digits in the answer always add
up to nine. I didn’t believe him. I played with his calculator, inputting
bigger and bigger numbers. Sure enough, he was right. Nine is a magic number.
Because of the things that my dad taught me, I see much more
in numbers than I ever believed possible when I was sitting in a classroom
adding up columns of numbers on a worksheet. He showed me the majesty of
numbers and the beauty of mathematics.
He also shared his stamp collection with me, showing me tiny
pieces of art from countries around the world. In doing so, he awakened within
me a love of geography.
And he went beyond sharing his own gifts with me. He
appreciated and relished my own gifts. 
He encouraged my creativity. He was happy when I showed him a new essay
or a new painting that I had made. He liked the handmade cards that I gave him
to mark an occasion, such as a birthday or an anniversary. He read every
article that I wrote for the Island Dispatch and other publications and he
looked at all of the photographs that went with those articles. He went to hear
me sing in recitals and in concerts. He liked looking at the garden that I
planted in our tiny garden space in front of our house.
Thanks to my dad, I will always see numbers as exciting and
as magical.  When I wish upon a star, I
will think of him and I will try to count the stars in a constellation. I will
think of him whenever I touch a calculator. And he did what seemed impossible.
He gave a love of numbers to a reluctant math student. He taught me that it was
more than just the numbers. If I was able to do things that I didn’t believe
myself capable of doing, then anything is possible.
My father, Roy Gerard, passed away on  Tuesday, August 28th, at the age of 92. I love him and miss him.  I read the above essay at my father’s funeral yesterday (August 31st).

3 thoughts on “Me and My Dad”

  1. Hi Alice….

    Thanks for sharing this with us. What a beautiful love you two had for each other! My Dad joined the Ancestors in August of 2009 at the age of 93. I had written a poem for him on the occasion of his 85th birthday. I read it at his funeral: MY DADDY IS A SMOOTH DUDE!

    We are blessed, Alice. Our good memories will provide solace forever.

  2. Alice,

    You are an amazing lady. It is obvious your dad played a large part in that and the two of you loved each other deeply. Be grateful and hold to those memories and stories in the dark. Many children cannot say that. I know your dad was proud of you.

    Thank you for sharing this personal part of yourself and your family.

    Lorna Czarnota

  3. Karima and Lorna,
    Thank you so much. I am very grateful for your kind words.
    I am still trying to navigate my way through the darkness. Thank you both for the love and lightness.

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