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My Father's Hands

Bedtime came, we were settling down
I was holding one of my lads
As I grasped him so tight I saw a strange sight
My hands. . .they looked like my dad's

I remember them well, those old gnarled hooks
There was always a cracked nail or two
And thanks to a hammer that strayed from its mark
His thumb was a beautiful blue

They were rough, I remember, incredibly tough
As strong as a carpenter's vice
But holding a scared little boy at night
They seemed to me awfully nice

The sight of those hands
How impressive it was in the eyes of his little boy
Other dads' hands were cleaner
It seemed, the effects of their office employ

I gave little thought in my formative years
Of the reason for Dad's raspy mitts
The love in the toil, the dirt and the oil
Rusty plumbing that gave those hands fits

Thinking back, misty-eyed, and thinking ahead
When one day my time is done
The torch of love in my own wrinkled hands
Will pass on to the hands of my son

I don't mind the bruises The scars here and there
Or the hammer that just seemed to slip
I want most of all when my son takes my hand
To feel that love lies in the grip

By David Kettler
from A 5th Portion of Chicken Soup for the Soul
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