My Grandfathers Hands.

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Blog entry by NightRouter posted 03-09-2012 02:08 AM 10307 reads 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I remember my Grandfathers Hands. I used to stare at them sometimes in awe. I haven’t thought of it for more than 25 years now. The other night I picked up the few tools of his that I posess and began to reminice.

He was a large German man from the Pennsylvania Dutch community. Ruddy complection, barrel-chested, fingers like bratwurst. I have a ring he wore on his index finger that is too large for my thumb. But this man who grew up on a farm, shoveled coal into an early model ford truck every morning in cold weather then drove it 10 miles to the school and shoveled back out into the shute which led to a boiler room: the same boiler he maintained 24 hrs which paid his way through college. He became the first college educated man in our family.

Thirty years later, when I came along, he would end his day as a professor and minister and then my time with him began. He loved all things in creation as was taught to him by his father. He was multi-talented. He played piano, was a great writer, but where he and I met was in his small woodshop, in the garden, behind a fishing pole, (and over his knee sometimes) but all places where I saw his hand at work. While the latter could wax humorous it is just as applicable. I felt his hand in discipline some times but those same hands could select the smallest of seeds to sow or carve the most intricate design. I can see the finesse he displayed as his fingers would sweep across the keys of his piano; this was the same finesse he flicked the fishing pole with and the same finesse he pulled a brush full of stain across a board or rubbed the finishing touches with the finest grade of wool on a piece of furniture. I learned to love the use of my hands from watching his.

I also learned patience. It didn’t sink in until I had children, the glue that makes it stick in a father and the same which causes a previously patient woman to come unglued about 5 minuted before I get home. His patience with every mark and cut, his patience with every swing of a maul, his patience with every coat of stain or paint or unnumbered other works of his hands. I know that often he was tired both in mind and back but he always had time to show me how to make something with my hands. Regardless of scuff or splinter he would come alive when at once he employed his own.

Now that I am a father, a husband, both teacher and student in many places, I realize the value of time in the shop. As I’m sitting here writing I see my grandfather in me. I see the seeds he planted coming to fruition. I’m passionate about the many things I do with my hands. I teach my own children or council a friend over woodshavings and in woodlands. I love working with wood, gardening and playing music. I teach my children all manner of lessons as we create these things together. Though I don’t posess the stature of my grandad, I look at my own hands tonight. They’re red and leathery, full of scars. I have one finger that isn’t shaped the way it came. I have another that doesn’t bend the way it should. He loved me and taught me through the moxie his hands posessed and now my hands have become like his.

10 comments so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 4181 days

#1 posted 03-09-2012 02:20 AM

Thanks for posting this great story. I have some of my grandfather’s tools that I still use. And I think about him teaching me to use these every time I use them.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View NightRouter's profile


30 posts in 3766 days

#2 posted 03-09-2012 02:25 AM

I should have spell checked this’s definently the thought here not the writing..ha ha. but thanks. been thinking about him allot lately. He would love this internet stuff. He loved to connect with people. I sometimes feel like he’s there when I’m sipping a cup of joe at night or when I pause in the middle of a project. My next set of pics will be the progression of restoring these old tools for better use. i only have a few but it does involve wood.

View NightRouter's profile


30 posts in 3766 days

#3 posted 03-09-2012 02:30 AM

By the way, I grew up in horse country. Don’t ride like I want to being in the Army but I see you’re an equine vet. Love the species. They have so much personality. One of my favorite things is being the first one in the barn. they all stick thier heads out and give that purr cause they know there’s a flake of hay coming. Thier different voices seem to reflect that personality and make you feel welcome.

View cwdance1's profile


1164 posts in 4750 days

#4 posted 03-09-2012 02:40 AM

Thank you so much for the story. Made me stop and think of my grandpa. He was a man of few words but he helped shape me too. Maybe it was from his up bringing as he was Pennsylvania Dutch too.

Thanks again.

View NightRouter's profile


30 posts in 3766 days

#5 posted 03-09-2012 02:46 AM

Your welcome CW. My other grandpa was Blackfeet. He didn’t speak much. Good man. I suppose he didn’t need to say much, he was a tough one.

View NormG's profile


6576 posts in 4495 days

#6 posted 03-09-2012 03:11 AM

WOW great inspiration

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 3797 days

#7 posted 03-09-2012 04:22 AM

Great Story, very inspirational. Thanks for posting it.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View popsshop's profile


42 posts in 4467 days

#8 posted 03-09-2012 06:18 AM

Yes, a wonderful story. Made me think of a few lines from a song by the late Hank Snow . . .

“These hands raised a family, these hands built a home, now these hands raise to praise the Lord. Now I’m tired and I’m old, and I ain’t got much gold, maybe things ain’t been all that I planned; God above, hear my plea, when it’s time to judge me, take a look at these hard-working hands.”

-- Drilling holes in wood is a boring job

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1628 posts in 5056 days

#9 posted 03-09-2012 11:20 AM

Great story and you tell it very well. Interesting, when I (often) think of my father, it is about what he could do with his hands and what he taught me….thanks.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 5278 days

#10 posted 03-09-2012 08:02 PM

An honorable and fitting tribute to a man you obviously learned much from. Thanks for sharing it, and letting us come along for the ride.

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