My Daddy’s Hands
By Carol Guthrie Heilman
Charles Ison Guthrie never said I Love You to me, his youngest daughter. Born in 1919 he was of the generation who didn’t easily express their feelings. But I was assured he loved me and my sister deeply.
How did I know?
By his steadfast work ethic.
During my childhood he rose from bed first. On cold mornings, he stoked up the fire in our warm-morning stove, started coffee perking and packed his miner’s lunch pail, usually with bologna sandwiches and moon pies. Often, I joined him in the kitchen and he would fix me some fried toast, which is like French toast without the egg.
After lacing his boots, he left for the mines before daylight. I could hear him climb the rocky footpath, his lunch bucket thumping against his leg.
When he returned late in the day, black as the coal he dug, my sister and I would watch for him as we swung on our yard gate. As weary as I’m sure he was, he would chase us around the house growling like a bear.
By his tender care.
He plowed the hillside behind our house and planted half-runner beans, tomatoes, okra, corn and a few cotton seeds. Cotton? Yes, he wanted my sister and I to touch the plant we had been reading about in school.
He normally worked six days a week, but if he could snag some free days we headed to Norris Lake, Tennessee. Along with his brother and family, we stayed in trailers near the water and fished from the dock. Squeamish about the wiggling worms, Daddy always baited my hook.
He loved and cared for animals. When a stray, mangy dog followed him home from the mines, he nursed it back to health with genuine affection. The dogs always responded in kind.
By his discipline.
Most of the time, Daddy thought I could do no wrong. But then there were other times . . . on the back porch steps. Here we would sit. He would rest his hand on my shoulder and give me “a talking to.” Whenever I disappointed him, I often wished for a spanking instead. He did spank me and my sister one time. Curious about where our Daddy went every day, we climbed the trail up to the mines and peered inside the dark mouth. Somehow, he caught us. Our spanking was well deserved.
So many other memories come to my mind. He built a swing for our front porch. He sketched cartoons for our pleasure. Many were of Blondie and Dagwood, his favorite.
Years later on my wedding day, he took my trembling hand, placed it on his steady arm and walked me down the aisle.
Yes, I have been assured of my Daddy’s love throughout my life. By his hands.
Not all memories are warm
and cuddly like this bunny.
As a child, I remember . . .
Easter egg hunts. I dreaded them. A fierce
schoolyard competition using real, colorful eggs.
(Before the age of plastic ones.)
Armed with a basket everyone took off
the instant a teacher shouted, “On your mark,
get set, Go!” I could never out maneuver
the older kids, never discovered the most
eggs, and of course never claimed the winner’s
prize of a shiny silver dollar.
Plus, I usually sulked home with a torn dress
sash and skinned knees.
Baby chicks. One year my sister and I were
surprised with two chicks, dyed pink and
green. I don’t know if it was due to the dye
or too many loving hands, but the tiny creatures
only lived a few weeks.
As an adult I remember . . .
A C-5 transport plane. The best memory of all.
Years later it still warms my heart.
While visiting our daughter, son-in-law, and
grandson in CA, we attend a sunrise service on
Travis Air Force Base. It was held in the belly
of a parked C-5, a giant plane opened at both
ends. People filled rows of folding chairs. We
found a spot to sit together. With bodies
shivering and teeth chattering, our family
huddled as close as possible when a stiff breeze
swept through the plane. But . . . When the Chaplin spoke of our Lord’s resurrection, sunlight broke through the morning sky and washed over us. His perfect timing!
I’m looking forward to hearing about some of your Easter memories.
by Carol Heilman
No, this is not the name of a new band or even a new song, though it could be.
My mother grew up in a small Kentucky town. She often told us about walking to school when she was a child. We have told our own children such stories about walking for miles to school in the deep snow, uphill both ways. No wonder they rolled their eyes.
Mother swore the following tale was true. According to her, she had to pass a next-door neighbor who kept monkeys in his trees. How he kept them there she didn’t know, but she was petrified that one, or more than one, would swing out over the high fence and jump onto her back.
Every morning her mother would warn her, “Stay away from those monkeys.” Mother did her best, sprinting down the sidewalk, clutching her books to her chest, not slowing down until she felt certain she was safe from ‘those screeching animals.’
We laughed at her story. Mother said to call her older sister, Aunt Eula. “She’ll vouch for me. Eula remembers everything.” We called. She did not remember.
“How could you forget those awful monkeys?” Mother yelled into the phone.
After that encounter we teased mother about seeing monkeys in the trees. After awhile, she stopped being mad and laughed along with us. We started giving her things with monkeys on them. Daddy even gave her a huge, stuffed monkey that made terrible sounds and then came the little ones that sounded even worse when we threw them again a wall.
Next came the cloth tote bag displaying the image of a monkey dressed as a little girl. Created by an artist friend, Betsy Thorne, Mother loved it. She proudly carried it to doctor appointments, to the beauty shop, and down to dinner in her assisted-living home.
The monkey bag became part of my inheritance. I’ve used it to carry books or writing materials, but I haven’t yet carried it to dinner. Maybe I should.
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