Friday, April 3, 2015

My Father's Hands

Sitting with my father the other evening, I notice his hands. He has a bump on his thumb and is telling me how he went to get it checked out by the doctor and had to get it x-rayed. It's a kind of cyst, totally benign but annoying. I continued to look at his hands. He looks down at them too, turning them over, bringing the fingers and thumbs together. 

These hands have done so much over so many years, he says, isn't that amazing? 

I mention, with a smile, all the babies those hands have held.

I put my hand next to his and realize that our hands are about the same size in length but his fingers are a great deal thicker than mine. Why is this a surprise? To me, my father's hands are huge and strong. His skin is mottled with age, bruising and tearing easily like tissue paper. He tries to be careful but, more often then not, his hands and arms have one or two bandages covering tears and dark bruises. He refuses to NOT do all the things he needs those hands for. I think this week alone he has changed a tire; driven to a hospital with his wife's niece; changed out my sister's faucet; tried to fix his dishwasher; shepherded and helped dozens of kindergartens with their reading, computer skills and math assessments - along with who else knows what. I'm sure he's done all his yard work, vacuumed and opened at least a couple bottles of wine. He has texted me over his mobile phone. I'm also sure he has held his wife's hand as often as possible.

That's just the stuff I know about his week. He is a man who will always attempt to fix something first - and usually does. He builds furniture and he will edit photos in Photoshop. He'll tune his HAM radio and hitch up his trailer. Those hands of my father are probably the most capable, competent hands that I know - just by the skills and experiences that has filled their days.  Seventy seven years of DIY projects, drafting architectural plans, holding small hands...holding grandchild hands. Painting. Gardening. Comforting.

Pausing in that moment, really looking at those hands - time seems to stop and cascade briefly backwards. Image after image flows through my mind and I realize how blessed my life has been by my father and those hard working hands of his. I've watched him fix or build just about anything he put his mind to and sit on the floor with my children playing with plastic dinosaurs and blocks. The blessing he brings is in the truth that he has been a integral part of my life experiences. I don't just have the father figure, I have a father - man - in my life who has helped shape the way I look at the world. 

Literally, with those hands. 

I learned how to use my own hands and to look at the world as a place where my fingers belong in the soil or speckled with paint. 

The world is a hand's-on kind of place.

Thanks, dad

September 9, 1937 - August 2, 2018

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