Posted By Shawn on December 18, 2011
His hands were clean. They were folded across his chest, but I’d seen him sleep that way before. No, what was so strange was that they were clean. He would wash his hands before every meal and of course when he was dressed up for church. Despite those efforts, they never really looked clean. They were stained with a dozen colors of shoes that he’d dyed. They had layers of glue that, I thought, would never come off. Normally, they had a fresh coat of dirt from plowing, weeding, or planting strawberries, potatoes, or tomatoes.
I loved the way his hands felt. Rough, yet gentle. He could swing a hammer like an artist, driving the tiny nails in one swing with his hammer that had a thumb spot permanently worn into the side. He repaired soles and made sure the world knew who restored your soul. My grand-daddy’s hands were those of a working man. A real man’s hands that had known work for years. What I learned from his hands were that it was more important what you did with your hands than what you wore on them. I’ve seen him repair shoes for free because the mother couldn’t afford to pay. I’ve seen him clinch a fist because someone was being treated with less than respect. I’ve seen those hands carry on complete conversations with people who couldn’t hear him otherwise, and had no one else to talk to. The last thing I remember him doing was that beautiful “I Love You” sign that I have so proudly taught my children. But my last memory of his hands, is them cleaned up for the first time in my life. Spotless and free of the stains of this world. He was a good man and the world is worse for the lack of his hands.
His hands were so strong. But as I look down at my hands during prayer at church, for some reason I flashback to my hand laid across his for the last time, and I remember how odd it is that his hands look small. My hands were actually bigger than his. When did that happen? I remember them being so big.
When I was a child, he was super human. I saw him catch a snake in mid strike once. I saw him swing a small sledge as a hammer, driving carpenter nails with one swing. He could lift me over his head into my early teen years. He was stronger than he looked and he looked strong. Unlike Grandaddy, Dad never seems to get dirty. He could work twice as hard as you, leaving you filthy, while he wore a suit coat and stayed clean. However, he could also move a paintbrush or chisel with care. He could hold a baby and stop their crying. He gave bear hugs that made you feel like the whole world was right there and his hands could hold you up no matter what came your way.
It was years before I new he could even get sick. I remember the day he was working with a Ben-Gay tube for me and it squirted into his eyes. He calmly asked me to walk him to the sink to wash out his eyes. It was as if nothing could get to him. I saw his hands support friends in their time of need, despite his need. I saw them folded, often in prayer for himself and others. The last thing I remember him doing was the great big bear hug that said, “I love you”, so well. But I will always remember them looking small, folded across his chest as though he were sleeping. He was a good man and the world is worse for the lack of his hands.
His hands are tiny and fit into the palm of mine. I pray daily that they will find productive things to do. That they will be a blessing to this world. They should be strong, but gentle; quick, but careful. I pray that my hands will leave a mark on his heart the way that the Liner men before me haft left their print on my life. I have been crafted by the hands before me. A man’s hands say a lot about who he is. What a man does with his hands shows quite a bit more of who he is, than what he says.
H is hands are scarred from the nails that hung him on the tree. They helped form the world and chased the profiteers from the temple. They folded in the garden and asked for another way. But most of all they willingly laid down for the scarring that saved you and I. What I remember most of his hands is touching me heart and reminding me that this life is not the end, comforting me time and again. Never forget what His hands say about Him.