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my father's hands

Updated: Jun 16, 2021



Since I was a child, I have always been fascinated with hands. I observe them, inspect them, memorize them. The lines, the scars, the moles, the wrinkles – all tell a story. Especially the hands of a father..


My daddy’s hands. Firm, scarred, and worn. Always with a telltale trace of motor oil under each nail. A deformed pointer finger which caused a sympathetic pain in my stomach when he told how he got it caught in one of those old-fashioned, wringer-type washing machines. The same finger he begged me to pull after feigning a horrible cramp. Hands that, according to my mother, stayed up late at night to hold and rock me when I was sick or colicky. Hands that pulled pranks on his children more than corrected. Hands that quickly transformed into a human seatbelt as I stood beside him in his old pick-up truck. So much safety in a father’s hands.


My husband’s hands. Broad and solid, a tiny mole on his right pointer finger. Callused hands and fingers that firmly gripped and pitched baseball from little league to the majors. Hands that slide majestically over paper to form fine, elegant autographs. Hands that cover mine. Hands that engulf our children’s smaller ones. Hands that lovingly guided and taught and sometimes, but not nearly enough, corrected. Hands that changed diapers, retrieved balls, created crooked braids, dried tears, planted flowers, hung elaborate Christmas decorations, killed bugs, and brought comfort during some of my darkest and most tearful days. So much comfort in a father’s hands.


My father-in-law’s hands. Big. Really big! Hands that, in our wedding pictures, hang from the sleeve of his white suit coat like strange, unidentified appendages. Hands that lay on my husband’s shoulders as a little boy and guided and corrected. Gentle hands that, as I left for my first day back at work, held my baby daughter in his lap and covered the entire front of her torso, leaving only a slight allusion of pink sleeper. So much protection in a father’s hands.


My spiritual father's hands. Long, graceful fingers. Hands that guided as a good shepherd does – even in correction. Hands that taught us to lift ours in praise to a heavenly Father. Hands that, as I stood with him to serve communion after he’d announced his illness, reached down and took mine, squeezed, and encouraged. Hands that, even in death, poised gracefully in front of his body – as if he’d just sat down in front of the piano to play and sing in his high tenor voice. So much peace in a father’s hands.


My heavenly Father’s hands. Leading, guiding, and yes, even correcting. Hands that hold us safely in His palm. Hands that comfort when we walk through shadowy valleys. Hands that bear sword and staff to protect. Hands that hold His children lovingly and hold back our enemies fearlessly. So much to be gained in the Father’s hands.


Kendra Timberlake, 2006


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