One thing always seems to stand out among all the memories from my childhood with regard to my father: his hands. I remember them well. As a little boy, they seemed so large to me. I studied them often. I knew every square inch of their surface. I also whiled away many a moment in church, sitting on the pew next to him, pulling, poking, and prodding his fingers.
One other thing I often did was to compare my hands to his. I was pretty sure, even as a child, that one day my hands would be as big as his; but I knew instinctively that the process of getting them there would not be easy. For my hands to be like his, I realized that mine would have a lot of growing to do.
In retrospect, I thank God for those hands. They protected me. They provided for me. They directed me. And when necessary, they even disciplined me. Above all, though, they loved me. I long for the day when I will see those hands again.
In the meantime, I pray for the strengthening of my own hands; for I know that I have three children of my own who have, in all probability, studied them in turn. Pray for me, I have big gloves to fill.
I thought I would close today by posting the following poem, My Dad’s Hands, written by David Kettler. It seems to encompass my thoughts this day quite well.
MY DAD’S HANDS
Bedtime came, we were settling down,
I was holding one of my lads.
As I grasped him so tight, I saw a strange sight:
My hands... they looked like my dad's!
I remember them well, those old gnarled hooks,
there was always a cracked nail or two.
And thanks to a hammer that strayed from its mark,
his thumb was a beautiful blue!
They were rough, I remember, incredibly tough,
as strong as a carpenter's vice.
But holding a scared little boy at night,
they seemed to me awfully nice!
The sight of those hands - how impressive it was
in the eyes of his little boy.
Other dads' hands were cleaner, it seemed
(the effects of their office employ).
I gave little thought in my formative years
of the reason for Dad's raspy mitts:
The love in the toil, the dirt and the oil,
rusty plumbing that gave those hands fits!
Thinking back, misty-eyed, and thinking ahead,
when one day my time is done.
The torch of love in my own wrinkled hands
will pass on to the hands of my son.
I don't mind the bruises, the scars here and there,
or the hammer that just seemed to slip.
I want most of all when my son takes my hand,
to feel that love lies in the grip.*