Daddy's hands were soft and kind
when I was cryin´.
I remember Daddy’s hands,
how they held my Mama tight,
And patted my back,
for something done right.
If I could do things over,
I’d live my life again.
And never take for granted
the love in Daddy’s hands. 6
A Father's Hands
Hands are a symbol:
they reflect the results of work;
they show character.
Look at (or recall) your dad’s hands –
think of how they were shaped by his work –
work done as one way to show his caring for his family.
Don’t just wait till Father’s Day
to say a prayer for him
and tell him he’s special. 2
Too often the role of father
is maligned or passed over in our society.
Despite their immense worth,
dads are undervalued today.
Children need their papas
as much as they need their mamas. 3
I had always loved my father's hands.
They seemed to be the only part of him
I could love in safety.
I could love them in secret and in silence
and my mother would never know.
I could look at them when she was out of the room,
cooking in the kitchen,
banging the pots and pans
as she worked.
She was an angry woman
who had been forced to marry my father
when she was only twenty years old
because he had made her pregnant.
She had never forgiven him;
nor those who made them get married.
She once confided in me:
"There was someone else I liked at the time,
more than your father."
My two sisters and I spent most of our childhood
in an atmosphere of simmering resentment,
which seemed to have an unspoken law:
'Thou shalt not love thy father,
nor get to know him,
nor have any relationship with him.'
But I disobeyed her and loved him in secret;
through his hands.
He was not a tall man, or a heavy man - just 5ft 7in,
weighing an unfluctuating 9 stone all his life,
(“stone” is a British weight equal to 14 pounds -KT)
except when he died of cancer at the age of sixty-nine.
He was sinewy and lithe,
like the greyhounds raced by the workingmen in our neighbourhood
on the racecourse beyond the housing estates.
But his hands were large,
strong and square,
with tapering fingers
and smooth horn-hard rounded fingernails.
They were hands that worked in all weathers:
night shift, day shift;
lifting crates, boxes;
working on the cargoes
from the huge ships
that came and went at Swansea docks.
He worked until his hands were cracked
and chapped by cold, wind and rain,
filthy from handling cargoes of pig iron or coal;
brown and gnarled from the sun in summer.
I was fascinated by those hands and wanted to hold them;
examine them; play with them;
longing to feel their rough texture and warmth holding mine.
But I feared my mother's disapproval,
and the impulse always froze before I could reach out to him.
When I was about 7 or 8,
I noticed that my hands were like his;
I had inherited large, strong hands –
unexpected on a thin little girl,
and I felt pleased that
they were not like my mother's hands –
small, plump, soft.
I never sat on my father's lap,
or played with him,
or went out with him.
But once a week, on a Sunday evening,
my mother would wash my hair
and my father would dry it.
I would sit on the floor in front of the open coal fire,
between his knees,
back to him and facing the blaze,
and he would rub my wet hair
with a towel that he'd just held
to warm in front of the flames.
I would feel the firm,
warm weight of his hands
through the towel,
as my head was jogged gently back and forth
by their vigorous rubbing.
Those Sunday evenings were amongst the rare times
in my childhood when I felt secure and at ease,
my head held in large,
strong hands while the long, fair hair dried.
By the time my mother was fifty,
she had begun to soften a little.
Her lifetime's burden of making ends meet
was lifted now her daughters had left home.
She was a voracious reader,
and even wrote poems and stories from time to time.
She won prizes for recipes that she sent to women's magazines,
and joined a writers' circle at the local library.
Occasionally when I came home on an unexpected visit,
I would find the two of them seated together on a sofa,
my father holding my mother's small stockinged feet in his hands.
In the mid-sixties they bought a small black and white television set
and avidly watched University Challenge every Sunday,
taking an almost parental interest in the brilliant youngsters
who'd enjoyed the kind of education
of which they themselves had been deprived.
The times when my mother shared with me
the bitterness of her life became fewer.
There were even times
when I dared to believe
that she was content.
At sixty my father retired from the docks
after forty years of working there.
There was no retirement ceremony;
no lump sum or golden handshake.
He went down to the call on a cold Friday morning in December,
worked his last day,
and became a free man.
Free to read his Daily Mirror all morning
and his Swansea Evening Post all evening;
to call at the bookie's a couple of times a week
and to drink his pints and smoke his Woodbine
at the Labour Club when his meagre pension ran to it.
The following June 12th was my father's 61st birthday,
and my mother rang me a week before
and asked if I would club together with her
to buy my father a gold wristwatch.
'I know he always wanted one',
was her only comment.
We chose him a fine looking gold watch
with a black crocodile strap
and presented it to him on his birthday.
It was as if my mother,
at last, was feeling for him,
in his final years,
something other than contempt.
The handsome gold wristwatch
set between the protuberant bones of his thin wrists,
looked incongruous so close to his rough,
brown labourer's hands.
One day, not long after receiving the gold watch,
he confided in me, giving me one of his rare shy smiles.
"When I look down at the arm of the chair
and see a hand with a gold wrist watch on it,
I feel a shock;
and for a minute it seems
as if the hand belongs to someone else." 1
There's something like a line of gold thread
running through a man's words
when he talks to his daughter,
and gradually over the years
it gets to be long enough
for you to pick up in your hands
and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. 4
Father: Oh, the comfort,
the inexpressible comfort
of feeling safe with a person,
having neither to weigh thoughts
nor measure words,
but pouring them all out,
just as they are,
chaff and grain together,
certain that a faithful hand
will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping,
and with a breath of kindness
blow the rest away. 5
I've had a hard life,
but my hardships
are nothing against the hardships
that my father went through
in order to get me to where I started. 7
Hands are such an important symbol in our relationships.
I recall looking at my father's hands.
They seemed so big and strong.
The veins were prominent and his wedding ring
accented the value of the fingers on his left hand.
The experience of holding the hands of another
represents peace and security.
I invite you to value hands
-- the hands of your mate,
the hands of your parents,
the hands of your children and,
not least of all, the mighty hands of God,
in whatever way that you understand Him.
For many years, one of the leading insurance companies
has used the symbol of hands
to depict its customers' safety in their care.
Hands truly are important in conveying love and comfort.
Now that we’re adults,
we've traveled beyond the reach of a parent's hand,
and we too, understand the challenge and the pain of a life
moving beyond their loving grasp. 8
I watched a small man with thick calluses on both hands
work fifteen and sixteen hours a day.
I saw him once literally bleed from the bottoms of his feet,
a man who came here uneducated, alone,
unable to speak the language,
who taught me all I needed to know
about faith and hard work
by the simple eloquence of his example. 9
While we love all our children . . .
the father of a daughter is nothing but a high-class hostage.
A father turns a stony face to his sons, berates them,
shakes his antlers, paws the ground, snorts,
runs them off into the underbrush,
but when his daughter
puts her arm over his shoulder and says,
“Daddy, I need to ask you something,”
he is a pat of butter in a hot frying pan. 10
They say that from the instant he lays eyes on her,
a father adores his daughter.
Whoever she grows up to be,
she is always to him that little girl in pigtails.
She makes him feel like Christmas.
In exchange, he makes a secret promise
not to see the awkwardness of her teenage years,
the mistakes she makes
or the secrets she keeps. 11
The father who would taste the essence of his fatherhood
must turn back from the plane of his experience,
take with him the fruits of his journey
and begin again beside his child,
marching step by step
over the same old road. 12
 -My Father's Hands ~Carol Evans - Western Chan Fellowship, UK, 1998.
 ~John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, 1994
 ~Dinah Craik
 ~Holly Dunn
 ~Bartrand Hubbard
 ~LT. Col Tim Carlson
 ~Mario Cuomo
 ~Garrison Keillor
 ~Angelo Patri
|MorningStar Inspirations from
Dawn Cove Abbey
Roadside Assistance For Your Journey Through Life
- Dedicated to helping people return (and maintain) sanity and decency to life -
From the eBook: "One! The Journey hOMe", by Klaas Tuinman MA, © 2007-2017
Questions and comments welcomed.