My father’s hands

In the year leading up to our move away from Victoria, I had a hard time letting go. This difficulty manifested in my absolute inability to pack up our house. I made a detailed plan of every room, every cupboard I needed to sort and pack, but weeks flowed into months, and I made no progress.

It wasn’t like I didn’t have time to prepare: We planned our move for four years. During those years, I was too busy with school and establishing my editing business to give much thought to what it would be like to move 800 miles from my family.

It was hardest to leave my dad.


To say I loved my father deeply is to gloss over fifty years of complicated relationship. Relationship built on adoration.
Finally, always, such deep love.

My father had gifted hands. They could build anything, fix anything, make anything right. All my life I relied on those hands. Struggled to live up to them. Cursed my own for being clumsy, inept, and small.

Dad having tea with us kids in the kitchen he built us circa 1964: table and chairs, cupboards, fridge, and a stove with real knobs. FisherPrice had nothing on Dad.

Dad having tea with us kids in the kitchen he built us circa 1963: table and chairs, cupboards, fridge, and a stove with real knobs. FisherPrice had nothing on my father.

A wise teacher once pointed out to me that I’ve engaged in a lifelong journey to learn to be my own “good daddy” – that’s how she put it, and I like her choice of words.

In the Motherpeace tarot (Vicki Noble & Karen Vogel, 1982), which I’ve used for 20 years to access my intuition and increase my self-understanding, the “good daddy” is the Shaman of Wands. Noble says this shaman represents the matriarchal traditions. He respects women and the feminine principle, yet by virtue of his sex and abilities, has acquired personal power in the world. The Shaman of Wands is confident and optimistic. He has what it takes to accomplish long-term goals and handle extremely complex situations.

Over time, my hands grew stronger, and they learned to do many things. Certainly not everything my father’s could do, but other things. Valuable things. More importantly, I learned I could rely on myself and my own abilities and resourcefulness.

A few months before LW and I moved north to our farm, we played cards with our family around the dining room table. Sitting next to my father, our hands on the table, I noticed for the first time in my life that my hands were smaller versions of his.



Six months after LW and I moved away, Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. Despite chemo and radiation treatments, the cancer metastasized to bone. Two days after Father’s Day, 2008, he died.

In the six years since, as in all the years before, I continue to learn to be my own good daddy. I know I have the hands for the job.

Even so, Dad, I miss you like crazy.



13 Responses to “My father’s hands”

  1. Christine

    beautifully written. I miss my dad as well. Ours was also a complicated relationship but there was always a deep and true love.

  2. Sarah

    A lovely reflection for Fathers’ Day, Leslie. It has me thinking of my maternal grandfather as well. Although he and your dad were of different generations it seems they shared a common love of creation.

  3. Nola

    Love the pictures of you and your Dad. Thanks for sharing, got me reflecting on my Dad and how I miss him.

    • commatologist

      Thanks, Joan. Yes, I really do. More and more as I get older.


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