“My Dad’s Hands” by David Ketter, a Father’s Day Poem

A man remembers something special about his father

On June 18 of this year, the third Sunday of the month, the United States celebrated Father’s Day. Father’s Day was first observed throughout Catholic Europe on March 19 during the Middle Ages. As time passed, people began to celebrate Father’s Day on and off in March or May in different parts of the world.

Hands planting in the garden

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The United States did not take notice of a day to honor fathers until it was established as a counterpart to Mother’s Day in 1908. Still, the idea might have faded away had it not been for the insistence of a woman named Sonora Smart Dodd from Spokane, Washington. Her father had raised her and her siblings. So each year, she pushed the pastor of her church and other churches in the area to celebrate Father’s Day.

The idea eventually took hold across the nation. In 1966, Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers. In 1972, Richard Nixon finally signed Father’s Day into law.

The role of fathers in the lives of their children has always been less straightforward than the roles of mothers. Through much of history, fathers acted as the breadwinners while mothers provided the rearing and the nurturing. Some children went days without seeing their fathers. It has only been in the last few decades that the role of the father in child rearing has grown  more personal.

My Dad’s Hands,” a poem by David Ketter, seems to have been written in a time when children and their fathers were just learning how to begin to relate to each other. It tells the story of how the narrator, looking at his own hands, remembers his dead father’s hands.

Introverted older man

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Here is one stanza:

“I remember them well, those old gnarled hooks,

There was always a cracked nail or two.

And thanks to a hammer that strayed from its mark,

His thumb was a beautiful blue!”

The narrator then goes on to remember how the hands of his friends’ fathers always seemed cleaner and displayed less damage. Thinking back, he is proud of the evidence that his dad worked so hard. He reflects that,

“Thinking back, misty-eyed, and thinking ahead

When one day my time is done.

The torch of love in my own withered hands

Will pass on to the hands of my son.”

We express love in many different ways. Working hard for the benefit of your family is one of those ways. The author of “My Dad’s Hands” powerfully portrays the love and admiration he felt for his own father and the love he feels for his children.

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