Daddy’s Hands by Eileen Rife

My daddy (Robert Franklin Hinkle) as a small boy.

My daddy (Robert Franklin Hinkle) as a small boy.

Daddy as a teenager in the roaring 1920s. His future brother-in-law led him to the Lord at age 19 on a street corner.

Daddy as a teenager in the roaring 1920s. His future brother-in-law led him to the Lord at age 19 on a street corner.

My handsome father and his lovely bride, my mother, on their wedding day in 1940.

My handsome father and his lovely bride, my mother, on their wedding day in 1940.

My proud papa holding his first child, a son, who later died at age 18 from hydrocephalus. I was the youngest child of four.

My proud papa holding his first child, a son, born a week after the attack on Pearl Harbor. My brother later died at age 18 from hydrocephalus. I was the youngest child of four.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In honor of my father, now in heaven, I’m sharing an article titled “Daddy’s Hands” that I wrote 15 years ago and gifted to Dad who was 87 at the time. He lived to 94, following my mom to heaven two years after her death. 

 

~~

A large hand reached down to grasp my small hand. My Daddy was walking me to school. I looked up at him in wonder. He was so tall. So strong. Dark wavy hair framed his tanned face. Deep blue eyes twinkled in the morning light. A whistle spewed from his lips. I felt safe. My Daddy was with me.

Lost in my reflection, I suddenly felt Daddy’s hand gently release mine and nudge me inside the school door. As he squeezed me, he planted a warm kiss on my cheek.

My heart sank to let Daddy go. I fought back the tears, reassuring myself that I would soon be home again.

The school bell rang and I bolted for the school door. Several yards down the sidewalk, I skidded to a stop. I waited as the traffic light changed from red to green. Then I dashed across the street to Mr. Adam’s store, my routine stopping place after a tiring school day.

Inside the store, the aroma of fresh fruit filled my nostrils. I observed Mr. Adams in his blood-stained apron slicing meat behind the glass counter. Up front, the cashier rang up an elderly lady’s goods as the bag boy meticulously sorted the items into a bag.

I veered to the right, past the cashier and straight to my favorite aisle–CANDY LANE! My mouth watered as I eyed the chocolate bars, lollipops, and bubble gum.

Mmm, what am I in the mood for today? I pondered. After scanning the goodie buffet, I decided on a two-cent piece of bubble gum–the rectangular pink kind with the twin halves wrapped in cartoon paper. I reached in my pocket to retrieve my money. To my chagrin, my pockets were empty. I frantically racked my brain for a solution. The thought struck that since kind Mr. Adams often gave me candy, he probably wouldn’t care if I took this tiny piece of bubble gum. Settled in my mind, I quickly shoved the gum in my pocket and hurried to the door.

Once home, I laid the gum beside my book bag on the kitchen table and went to the sink to get a drink of water. Just then, Daddy entered the kitchen. In his typical booming fashion, he spoke: “How was school today?”

“Fine,” I glibly responded.

Daddy glanced at my book bag and then at the gum. “Where’d you get the gum?” he casually asked.

I set my glass down and slowly turned to face Daddy while bracing my body against the counter. A flicker of guilt flashed across my mind. Hot shame started at my neck and crept up into my face.

Clearing my throat, I answered, “At Adam’s Store.” I hoped Daddy would be satisfied with that answer. He wasn’t.  He knew he had not given me any treat money that day. Daddy persisted in his line of questioning. All of a sudden, I felt like I’d stepped into a wild west show. I was the bad guy and daddy was the law. I didn’t like this show-down. I wanted to run away with the dust at my heels and not look back. But there would be no running today. I was cornered and I knew it.

“Did Mr. Adams give you the gum, Eileen?” Daddy asked. My face turned red. I felt hot again. Like a trapped firefly trying to escape from a sealed jar, I longed for release from Daddy’s questions.

At last I mustered the courage to speak. “Well…no,” I stammered, looking down at the floor. I nervously slid one foot back and forth across the tile. “But Mr. Adams always gives us candy anyway,” I shot back. My words even sounded hollow to my ears. I knew I was in serious trouble. Daddy placed a high premium on honesty. This act of treachery was going to cost me. I watched Daddy’s hands. I expected him to spank me. Instead, he reached for the phone and called Mr. Adams.

When Daddy hung up the phone, he turned and faced me. “You best take that gum back,” he said with resolve. As I started to leave, Daddy softened. He took my arm and gently patted my back. “Supper will be ready when you get home,” he said.

In that instant, I felt a reassuring love emanating from Daddy’s hands. He had used his hands not only to instruct, but also to love, reminding me of my heavenly Father. How often God’s Son had used His hands to love people, to teach, to heal, and then to submit to the nails. All for my benefit.

My dad is eighty-seven now. He shuffles when he walks. I take his weak hand in my strong hand. He looks up at me with a smile and that familiar twinkle in his clear blue eyes and I smile back.

“Isn’t God good?” Daddy says.

“Yes, Daddy, He sure is.”

~~

What lesson(s) did your father teach you? Share with our readers by leaving a comment below.

~~

EileenRifeEileen Rife, author of the Born for India trilogy, speaks to women’s groups on a variety of topics. Her current works in progress include Dancing in the Rain, coauthored with Jennifer Slattery, December Sunrise, inspired by the Sandy Hook shootings, Breathe Deeply God’s Grace, a devotional, the Savvy Sisters series, and a Missionary Kid series patterned after the beloved American Girls series. www.eileenrife.com, www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com

 

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About Jennifer Slattery

Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery, also writing as Jen Pheobus, uses humor, grace, and truth to inspire God's children to live abundant, Christ-centered lives. She does content editing for Firefly, a southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, and is a regular contributor to Crosswalk.com; Internet Cafe Devotions; Faith, Friends and Chocolate; and manages the social media for Takin’ it to the Streets, a ministry that serves Omaha’s working poor and homeless. She’s placed in numerous writing contests and her work has appeared in numerous compilations, magazines, and e-zines.
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8 Responses to Daddy’s Hands by Eileen Rife

  1. Delia Latham says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful father! You brought tears to my eyes, Eileen…your Dad reminds me of my own. I felt the tension, the guilt, the shame – and the certain knowledge that, despite the ugliness of your (my) actions, he still loved you. Beautifully told. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Kinda like our heavenly Father, ey? 🙂

  3. Renette says:

    Thank you for that beautiful story and the relating it to our LORD.
    In answer to your question;
    My daddy taught :me he means what he says and to trust him all in one lesson by accident. i am a talker, we went on vacation when i was about 4 to Yellowstone, it was a long ride and i had been talking nonstop cents we left home. Dad had asked me several times to settle down. Finally thinking if i sat on moms lap i would be quiet. i keep right on rattling on. Daddy told me if i did ;not stop talking he would feed me to the bears. Just as we entered Yellowstone there was a momma bear and her two cubs. We stopped to watch along with a line of other cars,one of the cub came up to our small car and stood on its hind legs putting its paws on the hood and sticking its nose in the wing window of our car touching my nose. i believed my daddy about being fed to the bears and did not talk for 2 days. but i also learned my daddy would not let anything happen to me he loved me very much.
    the LORD means what he says and like my daddy He will not let anything happen he loves us very much.

  4. Quite the story, Renette! Do you shiver whenever you see a bear now? 🙂

  5. I love this, and what a godly, gentle, yet strong father you had! What a beautiful example of Christ-like leadership. I loved the pictures, too. 🙂

  6. Yes, Daddy was all those things. 🙂 That simple lesson in honesty has followed me all these years, and sometimes, I feel as though I’m honest to a fault when others around me don’t always take the same situation quite as seriously.

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