This post was originally published for Father’s Day in 2011. My dad passed away this month (August 2019). He is missed.
On Father’s Day in 2014, I woke up with the beginnings of this poem in my thoughts and proceeded to write Scarred Hands before I ever made it out of bed.
Hands scarred and rough from decades of hard work:
Twisting bolts, lifting engines, replacing belts
While grease, oil and other liquids stained the skin.
Years of taking care of a home, fixing things needing repair;
Mowing, plowing, and planting vegetables and flowers;
Always, tending to the safety of family with those hands.
From hugging his mother, to saluting his sergeant,
Wearing a ring that symbolized his heart’s desire,
He’s held his babies; applauded their accomplishments as they grew;
And guided and protected them through the stages of their lives.
He’s repeated the process with grandchildren;
And now, again, with great-grandchildren.
Those scarred hands show the warmth, the love, the life
of a man of substance, of integrity, of loyalty.
My daddy’s scarred hands are love;
And they are loved.
©Rhonda Hopkins 2014
I was definitely a “daddy’s girl” when I was little. I used to follow my dad everywhere. If he was going to the store or running errands, I was in the car. He called me his “Goldilocks” and nearly cried when one summer my aunt cut my very long hair in a pageboy cut.
My dad’s a mechanic and I always felt so grown up when he’d take me to work with him. I’d hand him tools and watch him work on cars. Unfortunately, I‘m not a mechanically-inclined person by nature so none of this stuck in my head.
Dad taught me to respect myself and never underestimate what I could do. I remember when I was still very young, he put me on his lap and told me how smart I was and that I should never let anyone tell me I couldn’t do anything as well as or better than a man could do it. While the gender bias may not be as great now, this was a very important message to a young girl in the late sixties and early seventies.
For toys, I don’t remember playing with dolls a lot. That was my sister’s domain. I had a tool belt with child-size tools in it. I drove my mom crazy turning over the chairs and “working” on them. My dad also bought me a fire engine red race car with flames down the side that went just as fast as my legs would peddle. I had train sets and other gender-neutral toys. Now I’m not saying my dad wanted a boy or anything, but I can tell you I never felt like I was second best.
Daddy also taught me the meaning of and the value of hard work. He owned his own garage by the time I was in 6th grade and I began working for him at 13. I would go there after school and worked there during the summers for two years. I cleaned up, took out the trash, answered the phones, and picked up parts from the parts houses that were within walking distance. By 15, I was working elsewhere to make enough money to buy my first car, which of course dad helped me pick out and made sure it was safe. But, it also had a kick-butt engine. (My dad raced cars before I came along.)
Dad also taught me to be giving of my time and talents. Even at 76, he still helps others by working on their mechanical items (cars, lawnmowers, tractors) or in any other way he can. He finds it very hard to turn anyone away.
He just had knee replacement surgery this past week. I was fortunate to be able to be with him and mom for this. He’s doing great and tackling the physical therapy just like he’s done everything else in his life. It hurts, but it’s just got to be done.
Here’s to you on father’s day, dad. I love you!
And here’s to all the dad’s out there on this special day.
I hope you’ll leave a comment and share some special memories you have about your dad.