My father’s arms

Friday, July 4, 2014 Permalink

Last weekend I attended the funeral of a friend’s father. My brother has been best friends with *N* since their high school days over 33 years ago. (Actually my own memories of their early exploits are quite murky but exploding bottles of home-brewed ginger beer come to mind! Later of course, came college parties, Bruce Springsteen, wives and kids.)

We’ve known N’s family for a long time and he and his wife have been wonderful to my entire family over the years. Indeed in many ways N’s a bit like a second big brother – often providing me with advice and handy hints – mostly via FB nowadays.

I would have attended the funeral anyway, but as my brother is overseas and mother away cat-sitting (for my brother and his family) I went alone.

The service was packed with family and friends – a fitting honour for someone who obviously touched the lives of many.

Tributes provided by N and his extended family were entertaining, funny and poignant – as the celebration of someone’s life should be.

I was most touched however when N’s sister decided to speak. Even now it’s hard not to cry when I think of her impassioned words.

She spoke of her father’s hands. Of how well she’d known them. Of how they gave such magnificent hugs and the fact they were capable of magic. Her father was an excellent musician and later an avid gardener – despite debilitating arthritis. She couldn’t stop thinking about those hands, she said. And the fact that they’d never hold her again.

I’m overly-emotional at the best of times but I have to admit I completely lost it at that point.

(Selfishly) I was thinking of my own father, who died about two and a half years ago. And I was thinking of his arms.

Just a week or so before, you see, I told my mother I often found myself both shocked and upset when I caught sight of my arms. Because they’re my father’s arms. It’d never occurred to me before. Obviously I’ve inherited my fair share of his genes and my mother tells me I’m like dad and his mother. I guess he and I have (had) similar colouring; so my ageing, blotchy and pale-but-freckled arms are his mottled sun-drenched arms.

It breaks my heart when I catch a glimpse unawares. “He’s back,” I think. But of course he isn’t. Not really.

My dad’s arms, N’s father’s hands.

But… I try to remind myself that though these memories break our hearts they also allow our loved ones to live on within them.

PicMonkey Collage.jpg

Are you sometimes surprised to look in the mirror and see your mother’s nose or grandfather’s eyes?

Linking up With Some Grace today.

  • @Kanga_Rue
    July 4, 2014

    That’s beautiful Deb. Particularly the last sentence.

    It works the other way around too. I often catch glimpses of myself in Pickle. Things I’ve not particularly liked about myself physically, I’ve come to appreciate as I can see them (& I love them) in him.


  • Lee-Anne
    July 4, 2014

    A beautifully evocative post, Deb. I found it very poignant, recalling my own father ‘s hands (I lost him at 18). He had finely chiseled and elegant hands, unlike my mother’s (whose I inherited!) I look at my daughters’ hands and think of my Dad – the memory is bittersweet, more sweet than bitter. x

  • KCLAnderson (Karen)
    July 4, 2014

    What a gorgeous sentiment Deb…and not at all selfish that you thought of your own dear father. As I thought of mine as I read this…that’s generous, not selfish, to share emotion in that way.

    There are times when I see my father in my face…and other times when I feel as if I am looking out through his eyes. <3

    • Debbish
      July 4, 2014

      It’s kind of reassuring isn’t it… that they’re still kind of with us. I wonder if it is also comforting for those with kids – the thought that ‘they’ will live on in some way.

  • Trish
    July 4, 2014

    I see my mother all the time now when I look in the mirror (alive and well) and others times I see my dad (passed away almost 9yrs ago).
    Beautiful thoughts you shared, I too remember the love in my father’s arms.

  • Lisa@RandomActsOfZen
    July 5, 2014

    That’s beautiful Deb. Every now and then, I see a flash of my dad in Bell, and I’m so sad that they never got to meet each other xx

  • Susan Lattwein
    July 5, 2014

    But can’t that be a good thing too, that you have his arms? My father told me, ‘when I’m gone, I’ll live on through you, you have my genes…’ You’re making me all teary now…

    • Debbish
      July 6, 2014

      It’s definitely also a good thing. xx

  • Jess
    July 8, 2014

    Oh what a beautiful post! Sounds like a really beautiful funeral, if that is even an appropriate to describe na ceremony. There is something magical about a parents touch!

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