Life is not fair, for those who
come from the old country.
I can barely remember my father
but they say he was a fine musician,
a beautifully accomplished violinist.
Somehow he ended up in the barn,
at 3 a.m., where he played one last
strain of the “Ave Maria,” then put
his shotgun at his feet, where he
could operate the trigger with his
big toe, and BAM! he was gone.
They buried him at the crossroads
because suicides are not allowed
in the Catholic cemetery. My mother
and brothers did the best they could.
I tried to help them, becoming a
hired girl to one of the best families
in town. I thought the man who made
promises to marry me would help my
family, but he only made me pregnant
and left me, all alone in Omaha. This
good man, my husband, has given me
thirteen children, fourteen all together.
He raised my first child as his own, like
Joseph in the manger. All are in the book,
Leo the most famous. They called me Toni
in real life, but my literary name has more
pizazz than her book that won the Pulitzer Prize.