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I Remember His Hands: A Tribute

handThey say that, other than the face, the most striking and memorable features of a person are the hands. That’s certainly true in this piece written by my Special Education teacher friend in Georgia, Frank Bird. He included it in his May 3rd, 2007 post and graciously granted me permission to reprint it here.

When someone says something well, go with it.

I told Frank that that this piece also reminded me of my father-in-law, now deceased. Our daughter, Katie, was so pleased to play Holly Dunn’s song, “Daddy’s Hands,” for him once. It certainly fit.

Thanks, Frank, for this fitting tribute.

James Sutton, Psychologist


I Remember His Hands

It has been nearly thirty years since I first saw his hands. I recall
the day as those ugly, big hands reached for mine to shake my hand as his
daughter introduced me. Those big, ugly hands were creviced and
creased from nearly fifty years of working on C-130 airplanes. Nearly
fifty years of work etched into those hands with the black of oil and
grease clinging to his finger nails so hard to clean off after tearing
down and over-hauling engines so pilots could fly safely. Big, ugly hands I remember so clearly became beautiful reaching to hold his first
grandson nearly thirty years ago.

For almost thirty years I watched those hands fold in prayer at meals
and in church services. I watched as he placed his big hand on his
daughter’s shoulder as we were wed. I watched so many times as he would hold
his big hands down for a grandchild to cling to as they
learned to walk. I remember his hands.

I remember hands that looked so clumsy from being worn and frayed
skillfully cut fine curves on a jig saw as he made model cars and planes
for his grandchildren. I remember wondering how those big hands
could carve such a small propeller for such a tiny plane that would come to sit
on my son’s shelve now nearly twenty years. I would laugh as his hands
cut out flowers and reindeer in mass for friends and family and as his
big hands painted away in bright colors each one of those potential
gifts. How I remember those hands.

I remember hands that could cook fish so good you had to eat a ton. I
remember hands that could fix a car or repair a bike. I remember hands
reaching for the food bowls at Thanksgiving dinner, filling his plate
and then reaching for another roll. I remember those hands holding a bird
house up as he nailed it to a post and filled his bird feeders in the
back yard. I remember watching those big hands put another log on the
fire and poke at the coals. I remember those hands.

I remember the day those hands last held a cigarette so many years ago.
I remember those big hands putting up pictures of grandchildren in the
living room. I remember those hands filling his thermos and getting an
extra jacket to head for the races in Cordele, Georgia, and taking ear
muffs for his grandson. I remember those hands holding an ear of corn as
we listened to country music down at Mossy Creek so many times. I
remember those hands.

I often joked of how funny it would seem as those big hands held such a
small fishing pole and reel. I remember those hands and the passion for
fishing and being on the lake. I remember my son catching his first
fish and being hugged by those big hands. I remember those hands
videotaping every single event in his grand kids’ lives. I remember watching as
the boat was loaded and truck hooked up. I remember those hands.

As long as I have all of these memories he will be here or there and I
can sit and tell my children about those big hands. I remember those
hands. It is hard to ponder as I do that all I now have are those memories
and will not see those big hands reaching, hugging, holding, fishing,
praying and shaking my hand again. It was a long drive home as I thought
about what to write and say as I remember this man. I do know I
remember his hands.


May 5, 2007 - Posted by | family, Inspirational, Parents


  1. Great story, thanks for sharing!


    Comment by tobeme | May 8, 2007 | Reply

  2. Wiping tears from my eyes, I thank you for that gem of a tale. The words dance a John Prine tune.


    Comment by Lynda O | January 15, 2008 | Reply

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