My father’s hands were huge and rough and calloused. When I was small my whole tiny hand barely fit around one of his fingers. He would use those big hands to gently lift the baby chicks so I could pet them. As I smiled his hand would envelop the top of my head softly patting it sending feelings of love like sparkling stars through my soul. I could feel those same strong hands holding the back fender of my Western Flyer bicycle as I was trying to learn to ride. When he felt I had learned enough to balance on my own that huge hand would slowly lift away. This would be his style for every period of growth I went through.
His hands would put every worm on every hook on my cane pole. In the high mountain streams his big strong hands would delicately snap and circle a trout line in a beautiful ballet barely touching the surface of the ice cold water. As his line skimmed the top he would snap it up spraying a fine mist that sprinkled like diamonds in the mountain sun. I watch those big rugged hands make tiny intricate flies for fishing and repair reels until they hummed.
Those hands would come home from a day’s hard work full of lacquer and specks of paint from house painting and he would drench them in thinner to clean them off enduring the sting in any open cuts. In the cold dry winter he would get cracks in them and have to treat them with heavy salves. But they still did their work, still had power, and they still gently held mine and kept me safe. In church they would find a peppermint hidden in his pocket and pass it to me during services before holding the hymn book while we sang together. As I grew and found a new love those hands reluctantly walked me down the aisle.
One day on my weekly visits to my parents’ home I noticed his huge hands were trembling ever so lightly and I realized age was taking its toll. Whenever I saw him I always reached for his hands for they had always been my connection to his great love. Those hands are at rest now but the memories still touch my soul in ways no other love has ever done. I can still feel his grip on my hand that brought so much peace in my heart and it guides me through every storm that life presents.