Last night, as I punched in my secret PIN number at the grocery store checkout, I noticed that my hands looked very familiar. Not familiar because they belong to me—that would be a ridiculous thing to write—but because I realized tonight that I have my father’s hands.
Defined by a square palm and stout, stocky fingers, my father’s hands were those of a man who worked. My father loved to do everything himself. He loved to use his hands, and he was never one to choose the easy route. If there was a new product on the market; he could make one just as good all by himself. If something was broken; he could fix it. If something wasn’t good enough; he could make it better. I’m sure that by now you get the picture…
I can remember watching the expressions on my father’s face as he concocted one crazy idea after another. More often than not, Dad’s inventions were made of steel; welded, riveted and bolted into place, even if the job didn’t call for such heavy duty measures.
Years of owning his own body and fender shop took a toll on my father’s hands; they were callused, scarred and stained from years of exposure to sharp objects, solvents and paints, yet I cannot recall ever seeing a Band-Aid on his hands.
Dad’s hands had personality. They were not pretty by any stretch of the imagination, but I remember their wrinkled backsides and the character they possessed. Dark and tanned by the sun, my father’s hands looked strong with their bulging veins and deep knuckle creases. His palms were rough and leathered, and I don’t think he could have washed the grease out of his fingertips if he tried.
I can remember shaking my father’s hand three times throughout my life: the first when I became an Eagle Scout; the second when I graduated high school. The third and last time came after I had won one of the few motocross races he accompanied me to, late in his life. The proud look on his face is something I will never forget, but the way his hand felt inside mine is a memory I will treasure forever. I have my father’s hands. Square, stocky and just as rough on the soft sides, I hope they can accomplish even half of what my father’s hands did.
Happy Father’s Day, dad. I miss you.