Handy Hugh

by cheri block

Today is my late father’s birthday. He died young, by today’s standards. He was a dentist whose hands gently repaired aching teeth.

His hands, holding a reel,  also waited patiently for that trout-nibble in the river.

They crafted home-made kites, hammered redwood decks, wrapped sailboat-rope around iron hooks on weathered docks, gripped rubber-Harley-handles, and gently scattered glitter on glue-blobs on the holiday letter.

I never saw those hands make an obscene gesture or strike an animal. Oh sure, every now and then, when I smarted off from the backseat of our Buick Vista-Dome station-wagon, that flat hand whirled around like a paddle-wheeler and swatted my leg, usually missing its mark.

As I reflect on my father’s life this morning, I suppose it is his hands that I see.

In the darkroom, the blue-glow of the light renders those hands shadows, holding the small tongs and pushing the paper back and forth in the chemicals until an image begins to emerge.

On the make-shift basketball court that is our driveway, those hands surrender to their wrists, whose quick and accurate flicks send the ball through the hoop.

Those hands pick me up, put me down, and set me free.

Those hands wave good-bye.

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in Life, My childhood, People, Writing and Teaching and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Handy Hugh

  1. Richard says:

    Sometimes I catch sight of my father’s hands in my own. He used to remark how babies turned their hands this way and that examining them in wonder and say he would not swap hands for the ability to fly.

    What a beautiful way to remember your father on his birthday, the love, the life and his service to others.

  2. His old buddy rememered dear Hughie when he first woke up today. Happy Birthday Hughie.

  3. His tree is doing great and I’ll stop by and say hi next time I’m at the farm.

  4. Wow, your dad drove a Harley, Cheri? How cool is that.

    The waving goodbye part of life is always sad to me and I’ve never gotten used to it and probably never will. But maybe that “never getting used to the leaving” will keep the space wide open to fall into once again. And again. And again.

    • Cheri says:

      Oh yes. I’ve never written the story of the time, on Veteran’s Day 1995, only 4 months before his death, he rode his Harley from Sacramento into my classroom in Fremont. I heard the roar of a powerful engine in the hallway and to my amazement, amusement, and embarrassment, my father actually rode the bike into my classroom, then populated mainly by new Indian and Chinese immigrant kids who were in honors English.

      He wanted to make sure they understood that the gifts and privilege they were enjoying in the USA was made possible by many brave Americans during the 20th century. I am sure out of the 35 kids who listened, about 5 really got the point.

  5. Tyler says:

    I have a “flash bulb memory” of him taking me to a basketball court when I was about 8 or 9. He told me when I dribble, to make sure I lightly push the ball down toward the ground with my fingertips, not my palms. I’ll never forget it. I turned out to be a decent pick-up basketball player too.

  6. Cheri says:

    So there! He’s with you yet.

  7. imagenmots says:

    I’m a bit jealous of you for those memories. I have precious few from my own father. I hope my kids will feel , about me, like you about your father.

  8. Cheri says:

    Paul, I’m no soothsayer but after spending only one day with you, I just know your children will feel the love and admiration for you that I feel about my father. You are one of those dear, delightful, and engaged parents that every kid hopes for,

  9. Cyberquill says:

    If his hands never struck an animal, how did he kill the trout he caught? Did he just let them suffocate?

    • Cheri says:

      That was an oversight on my part CQ. He did kill fish, a lot of them. Canned ’em, smoked ’em, grilled ’em, and baked ’em. This wasn’t the only clue in my entire collection of blog posts that would reveal that I don’t always tell the truth. There are several others about my dad that would render the line ” he never struck an animal” not completely accurate, now that I think of it.
      I was referring to cats, dogs, hamsters, parakeets, and rats.

      Could catch!

  10. W.k. kortas says:

    Not only is this touching and heart-felt, it’s finely crafted to boot–visual, wistful and affectionate without veering into the realm of the sloppy or the saccharrine. You’ve done the man proud.

  11. Cheri says:

    Gosh,W.k., high compliments coming from you, a poet. I appreciate your comment.

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