One of my fondest memories of childhood is holding my Fathers hand. His was a unique hand – large and remarkable. An outdoor accident at three years old -a wood chopping chore turned tragic, had mistakenly caught my Father’s “pointy-finger” and took it completely off. This left a space gap between his thumb and his three remaining fingers. To me his three-fingered hand seemed normal-just right for me as a young child to grasp while crossing the street.
My father was a strong-sized man, tall and muscular from a lifetime of physical labor. He wore bib-overall work clothes Monday through Friday. They hung on a peg by the backdoor for an easy on in the morning and off again at the end of his work day. Those overalls represented his hard labor as a railroad man. After forty-five years, he stopped wearing them and retired from the Union Pacific Railroad. His example of perseverance and hard-work ethic was my role model of strength for life.
We were not particularly a “social family.” We mainly spent time at home. But we often sat together watching TV, or fun movies late at night. During winter we would eat popcorn or Halloween-sized candy bars. Our favorite was Butter Fingers. We could eat an entire package, unwrapping and nibbling the small bars, piece by piece while watching an old movie. This was our special time – he and I – sitting together. I loved to be with him holding his strong hands, eating our favorite treats and then holding hands again. It was his quiet strength I needed.
I was his fourth girl. he may have secretly wanted a boy, but I never felt any disappointment with my gender. He called me “Jimmy” when I was really young, but that didn’t last long. His presence reassured me of being well-loved and respected as his youngest daughter. He always told me how proud he was of me and my achievements growing up.
Dad played the piano as best he could with nine fingers. (I wonder how did he do it?) I remember some songs he beat out on the old piano on rare occasions. He sang nicely, but kept his voice hidden in public. He whistled instead; I often heard it coming from a remote part of the house. When he was tinkering in the basement he could really cut loose. I am not sure he cared we were listening from the kitchen or bedrooms. It brightened the day.
Stories were told of his musical family – three boys singing in the Vaudeville era. . I was told my deceased grandmother was a piano teacher. I wished I had known her.
I appreciated the freedom I had as a child. It was a fun childhood with freedom to explore, make many friends and discover my gifts and talents as well. Dad was there to answer my questions and sacrifice to give me opportunities to grow.
I married and he imparted those same qualities as a Grandfather to my two children. They loved him and experienced his support while growing into young adults. He took great pride in their gifts and talents as well. He loved all his grandchildren just the same. And they loved him.
He has been gone now nearly twenty years.We miss him but not only at Father’s Day. We remember him endearingly throughout the seasons of our life. Most of his grandchildren have married and their children would love him dearly now.
We wish he could be here to pass his wisdom to this next generation. His was the kind of “worldly wisdom” given. He would speak his mind in every conversation. We loved him for his fairness and unconditional acceptance.
As an adult, I have found my Heavenly Father God to be a continual presence in my life – like my real father. LIfe’s happenings, no matter how difficult they may become, turns me to the heart of my Heavenly Abba Father for advice and strength. He reassures me his presence is with me. Experiencing that truth brings me childlike freedom every day.
“Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found. . I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments,” says Psalm 119:35,45