Guest Post: My Dad’s Hands

[As you know, my father-in-law, Duane Juve, passed away last week. At the funeral, Dawn’s youngest sister, Delaine (Juve) Gamache, offered this beautiful tribute in memory of Duane. I asked Delaine if I could post it here. And, you can read it, unedited, below. May this inspire us all to so live that we, too, may be remembered like this. You can also read my tribute to Duane.]

Oh Dad, I am going to miss your farm stories! Somebody asked me the other day: Is there a single memory that stands out to you about your father? I had been so focused on so many things that week, that at that moment my mind went blank. As I’ve thought about the question since, I keep thinking about all the times our family sat around the table or living room and listened to your farm adventures. The scene of you shooting at a few rats and then being chased by hundreds that came pouring out of the silo and the scene of your uncles hunting at night on the lake looking for deer eyes, but shooting at the eyes of their own oxen instead, the scene of you making your own skis and catching a ride behind cars, the scenes of you and Uncle Marvel doing dangerous things and you always being the hero come to the rescue (unless Uncle Marvel was telling the story), the scene of you walking to your country school and seeing a bear, and, of course, the classic walking in the snow to school uphill both ways—these scenes and others are showing regularly in my memory now. And I will miss the way that you tell them. No one will ever be able to tell them the way you did.

When we were in the hospital, I spent a lot of time looking at my dad’s hands. Maybe because I’m well aware that mine look very similar to his. I tend to wrinkle my nose at my hands and wish that I had cute petite ones like the rest of my sisters. But in the hospital I would look at my hands and then his and think about all the things his hands had accomplished. My dad’s hands reached out for a tree as he stumbled when learning to walk again after his childhood bout with polio. May dad’s hands held my mother in many an embrace in the kitchen (he was always excited about the next meal . . . and my mom). May dad’s hands carried five children home and buried one. My dad’s hands took little pieces of Kleenex and wrapped them around bobby pins to clean out our runny noses. My dad’s hands held the steering wheel of a school bus to make extra money to cover my medical bills while still pastoring his church. May dad’s hands disciplined us when we went astray. May dad’s hands opened his Bible every night after supper to read to us from God’s word and then his hands folded as he led us in prayer. My dad’s hand took up a pen week after week to write sermons to feed his congregation. My dad’s hands touched many a sick person in a hospital bed as he prayed for them to be comforted and healed. And I can’t help but remember the time when I was a feisty young person, I was giving him an attitude about something, and he finally put his hand on my shoulder, and with eyes filled with tears said, “Delaine, I just want you to love Jesus.” That was cry of my dad’s heart. He just wanted people to love Jesus.

As my father was dying, we watched his fingertips turn purple and then creep up his fingers. As I watched this, it struck me that it looked much like the hues of the sky when the sun is setting. My mind flew to Psalm 112 verse 8, “Light dawns in the darkness for the upright.” The sun was going down in his life, but a greater light was dawning for him. A beautiful glorious sunrise that all we who love Jesus are yearning to see, we who trust in a righteousness that is not our own, but a gift purchased by Jesus on the cross. We are groaning in this outer body that is wasting away to be in a place where we worship in a new body, free from all imperfections, and awash in the light of the Lamb.

So, Dad, my prayer is that the Lord would use my very imperfect hands to care for my own family—my husband and children—as faithfully as you did. My prayer is that the Lord would use my hands to open my Bible to share the word of God with others. And that he will use my hands to point other to Jesus. That’s the heritage you passed down to me. That’s your legacy. The day is coming when that purple sunset will move up my own fingers that look so much like yours and may it be said to me, like I’m certain it was said to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your reward.”