It is one week before Christmas. I can see how tired he is. Everytime I ask the question, "How are doing Dad?" the answer is always the same. "I am fine. ".
I am fine is waking at five in the morning. I am fine is pushing out countless batches of creams, caramels, brittles and fudge that would make another man cry. I am fine is crawling into bed after he makes sure that we leave late at night. I am fine dances in the pain of excruciating leg cramps in the dark of night because he pushes to hard.
His hands tell the story of a man who has given his soul to grow a business for his children. Like a mechanic he wears the stain of dark chocolate on his hands. The same hands are chapped from hours of rolling creams, constant washing, and pulling gloves on and off. Burn scars tell the story of bubbling caramel and fudge. On occasion as he scoops and stirs and scrapes his fingers stop frozen in protest over too many hours in too few days.
These are the same hands that will stop to give a hug to a great grandaughter when she deigns him worthy of one. The same thumbs that twiddle in circles at church when he can barely hold his eyes open. The worn and caloused hand that reaches to hold my Mom's when they walk.
Like his father before him he knows nothing but hard work. Like Grandpap his hands hold our family and our hearts. My father's hands tell the story of years of dedication and hard work, to give us his children and grandchildren the gift of a future built on love and family tradition.