My childish view of my daddy's big hands grew out of a knowledge that he would never use them to harm me. While my mom had a lot on her plate, bath time was done efficiently and quickly. Dad took his time. He sang a special song to each of his children as we took our turn in the tub. I could picture the "dolly" who I was supposed to be as he carefully wrapped a towel around me and made the chore a love song between father and daughter. "I danced with a dolly with a hole in her stocking and her toes were a tapping and her knees were a knocking..." He looks a lot like my nephew here, doesn't he?
Dad was a small business owner. He created window treatments for the 'rich' people so we could eat at night. Or at least that's how I saw it. We weren't rich with material goods, but we were rich with the love of a good mother and father who taught us about God and serving other people.
The day that my dad told me I was getting too big to pick up remains forever burned in my mind. He was a big man who constantly played with his kids through pranks and affectionate hugs. We knew our daddy loved us. Anyway, I was getting too big to pick up, but it was a sad day for me because it seemed to mark the day that I grew up. For the first time, I became aware of the way my dad moved his body in a stilted way because he was in pain.
I remember seeing a change in his hands. Those big loving hands he would swipe down my face and say, "You did good, Sweetie." His fingers now stiff from the years of hard work , the pointer finger bent at an unnatural angle due to rheumatoid arthritis. He did not complain. Instead, he grew more quiet as the years sped by.
Dad was a cook in the Navy and used to spend time in the kitchen creating dishes for myself, my brother and my sister and our many friends. We would go skiing in the winter, hiking in the fall and swimming in the summer. After a great adventure a group of us would end up back at our house and dad and mom put on a spread for us to continue the celebration. My goodness they knew how to throw a party.
It wasn't until I was diagnosed with cancer at age 40 and needed to endure the grinding reality of chemotherapy that I truly understood how very much my dad loved us. He had a physically taxing job that required hours of working with his crippled hands to provide for us.
Dad is 82 this year, and I pray that God will continue to help him, heal him and bless him. He truly is the greatest example to me of the heavenly father. In his big hearted, tender, loving ways, my dad helped me to know just a little bit about the God that we serve. He has taught me more by his life style than any bible teacher or pastor.
I told dad that I decided to follow Jesus when I was 24. His response helped me deal with some negative back lash from others close to me. I'd grown tired of running and became serious about the things of God. Dad told me then about his experience with God. Apparently, my mom was Catholic and he was Protestant. He studied the differences in the two religions because he was in love with my mom and decided to convert to Catholicism. During his time of conversion he said, he "met God." How's that for true love?
For this I am so grateful. My dad's hands represented the hands of Christ to me more than any other person.
Hands for loving. Hands for building up not destroying. Hands to hold you when your heart is breaking. Hands to lead your way...
Today, when I tell my dad "Happy Father's Day!" He will respond without hesitation. "Every day is Father's day."
Danced with a dolly with a hole in her stocking and her toes were a tapping and her knees were a knocking..danced with a dolly with a hole in her stocking, and we danced by the light of the moon.
Love you dad! Happy Father's Day. You are the best dad a girl could ever have. Some day we will see your loving hands healed in heaven and we will praise our great God together.