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.
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