Father’s Day. A time to celebrate those men who stand steadily by, waving the BBQ brush in the air, strong hands hold gently as you pour out the sadness of your heart. I always think of my dad as the one who would fix everything with patient hands that spoke of his quiet heart. He wasn’t much of a talker but he listened with his entire being, and even when he didn’t fully understand, I knew that he cared enough to just be there for me. He planted seeds and pulled weeds and patiently stood outside in the cold with a water hose so that we had a skating rink in our back yard. When the tiny little bird hit our picture window so hard that it broke its wing, he gently brought her in and nursed her back to health with a water droplet and a box of love until she could fly again into the sky.
And then there is the man I married and the emotion of yet another Father’s Day. I pick up the phone and call my Dad and listen to his latest renovation adventures (he is newly retired) and listen to the passion in his voice as he talks about his last baseball game (he is a pitcher). I return the favour of my youth and listen with my whole being because I have learned that is what love is. Then I turn to the man I love and I hold his heart gently in my breath as we wander softly through the day.
My husband’s father died when he was five years old. A tragic car accident. He grew up without a father in his life, missing out on steady words of listening passed down from the worn hands of a watch maker. Then he became a father to two tiny little boys of his own. He held them as close to his heart as he could and spent every waking moment by their side. He gently changed tiny little diapers and with a q-tip fed them droplets of milk ever patient. He sat close and read books gently with a voice that threatened to shake with every moment and yet stayed amazingly steady. When physicians and nurses had to poke tiny needles into a tiny arm, he pressed his baby finger into a little hand that gripped and held on tight to the love of a father’s heart. When they died, he held me close in tears. I will hold him close on Father’s Day and honour a heart who learned how to be a father without a compass or a map, with the spirit of the knowing.
My son has two fathers in his life. Two very different men who have something very beautiful in common with each other — they love my son. On Father’s Day he honours them both, the one who was there to hold him at birth, who is in his life as fully as I am, and the one who came into his life later but who is in his life as fully as I am. I watch my son, on the verge of being a man, and know that he takes with him the lessons of fatherhood and that someday he will be there, steady hands holding onto a child of his own. His heart will break and swell with pride and he will learn the deep ways of listening that fathers have, the deep love that fills deep wells in quiet beauty.
“father’s hands” © Darlene J Kreutzer
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