My dad had a hard time telling me he loved me… sounds harsh doesn’t it?
But you know how he showed me, love… his grip.
He had huge hands. Big as a baseball glove.
Those hands showed me a lot of things:
How to read the bible.
How to pray.
How to tie shoes and hockey skates.
How to throw and catch a baseball.
How to swim.
How to swing a hammer and use a screwdriver. The names of the screwdrivers. Like a star end screwdriver is called a Philips and square-end is a Robertson.
How to discipline me when I needed it. Those hands stung me in the butt a few times.
How to shovel the driveway… for some reason, he wanted to show me that as soon as I was big enough.
How to show love to my mom. Things like; kissing her every day before leaving for work, laying on the couch with her while watching TV, holding hands in public, praying together and always looking out for her safety.
You see that grip was used to show love in so many ways:
That grip pulled me into my parents bed on those early Saturday mornings. My dad and I use create a smell in the morning to chase her out of bed to make us breakfast.
That grip took me on trips to service calls as a young boy.
That grip pulled me into his shoulder or lap to fall asleep on.
That grip taught how to work and earn money at a young age.
That grip took me on trips to the local sports shop to get my first baseball glove and pair of hockey skates.
As I became an adult that grip was used to spending time together building and fixing things like a new fence at my first house, renovating a house, building a new house and fixing my broken appliances.
That grip was always made available. My dad always seemed to be there. Maybe that’s why he tried to keep his schedule and life light and simple.
There was a dark time in my adult life when I was facing some personal issues with my marriage. As I was visiting my parents and discussing the issues my dad rarely said a word. But the look in his eyes and his grip told me that everything was going to be alright.
As I laid there on the couch, he sat beside me with few words spoken. But he stayed with me and didn’t leave. Just knowing he was there, his grip, made me feel safe.
A few years before my dad passed away I built a house and a did a lot of work on my own. My dad was there. Helping with the electrical, kitchen cupboards and giving me advice on the plumbing, heating and air-conditioning.
I look back at this and amazed that my dad, with a lot of patience, taught me how to do so many things.
The last project that we worked on together was building a deck for my house. It was going to be a lot of work. When I asked if he thought it was possible, he just shrugged his shoulders and in “Johnny J.” style said, “o.k. we can give it a try“. We built and completed that project right to building code.
That last project was special to me because we spent a lot of time talking, laughing, and of course having a few arguments.
After the project was completed, we took a walk in the orchard that backed onto my place. As we approached the house I said to him… “man we did a great job”. My dad’s reply with his grip… “yep looks pretty good”.
My dad never spoke the words… “I love you” but as you can see the grip was his love to me.
The more I get older and ask different men about their relationships with their dad. I hear stories about dads that were filled with so much anguish and pain.
I am so blessed and honoured with such a rich heritage and blessing with family.
That grip was an example of my Dad’s love for God.
Now it’s up to me to continue on with this rich blessing with my three sons.
I had the honour of speaking these words at my Dad’s funeral and my hope it will be a blessing and encouragement to you. Mostly for the men and fathers that are reading this. That what you do and how you show love can impact a generation. Much like how my dad showed me, love. May we as men rise up and be the real men we need to be for our sons and daughters.
When I held my dad as he took his last breath, the last words I remember we spoke was… “I love you pops” and he gripped my hand and said, “I love you too”.