My Dad

Beautiful quiet morning here in the Arizona desert where I am as I’m writing this, visiting my dad . . . it’s still dark, frogs are croaking on the golf course across from my dad’s house. I’m all set up with my computer in his kitchen, drinking the Earl Grey tea he put in the cupboard ‘specially for his first child so she would have all the comforts of home.  Here we are, in this photo below, last night after dinner at Nic’s, me, my dad and his darling, wonderful wife, Jeannie. It’s a fuzzy photo Joe took with my iPhone, but we’re all there together, on a gorgeous starry night in the old town of Cottonwood, in the high Arizona desert.

We brought Dad his belated birthday present, an iPad, which we’ve been practicing up on while on this trip, trying to learn it ourselves, so we could “teach” him.

This is the blind leading the blind.  But together, we ended up seeing the light.  What a fun little machine this is! First stop my dad made, was to Youtube, to hear Johnny Cash singing I Walk the Line.

My dad’s fingers are big and wide and hitting the keys just right on the iPad looks like it might be an art!  Something learnable and doable with practice, but at first, not so easy.

My dad’s name is John Patrick Stewart, Jr.  But most people call him Jack.  His fingers are wide, but his hands are square and strong and beautiful to me.  These are two of the hands that raised me.  I like to put mine in his still, to this day, all warm and pure comfort in there.  When we hold hands, I feel six-years-old again and I don’t want to let go.  They are the hands that made my childhood safe and secure; they’re the ones that tied the tent on the roof of the car so there’d be room inside for his eight children when we went camping to the High Sierras every summer; they planted the plum tree in our backyard, and built the playhouse for my sisters; they dug the hole for the swimming pool, and held us while we learned how to swim. Strong enough to fix anything, soft enough for putting babies down for naps. 

Easter with Dad

He is a man of many talents . . .

He sends me his favorite recipes, written in his own handwriting.  His strong and creative hands helped to build the house that is my life. ♥  His sense of humor is the furniture!  You’ll get to see some of that because he’s now commenting on the blog and making everyone laugh!

Here he is with his dog Daisy, feeling the morning sun.  We leave here today, back on the train overnight to California, with more memories.  I wish we could stay. But you know, life moves on, I can’t move back in.   Just one more hand-holding will have to do for now. ♥ I love my Daddy; I dedicated my Book of Days to him.

63 Responses to My Dad

  1. Debbie Ferguson says:

    Dear Susan, I was so happy to see that you added this post to be permenantly seen under “About Me”. I just wish that for those who did not read the post the day it came out… could read the comments that came with it. So many beautiful testimonial’s of our Fathers! I along with everyone else read the post and coments through tears. What beautiful memory’s you painted of your Father.

    Love, Love, Love your blog,

    Debbie

    • sbranch says:

      I tried to take the comments with this, but couldn’t do it . . . so we’ll just have to gather some new ones here! The others are still back there under the original posting if anyone cares to go back on the blog to read them — I agree Debbie, they are truly wonderful and heart warming, made me cry too! Thanks for being here!

  2. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Happy to see you tucked this blog over here! This blog is such a treasure (as are you), and your Dad must be so pleased! Dad & Daisy enjoying the morning sun, love it! Hugs!

  3. Laurie says:

    You brought tears to my eyes; my Dad has been gone for 16 yrs. and I still miss his strong hands. They will always “raise me up” when I need it. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Susan Eaton says:

    My Mom and Dad live in Pennsylvania (an hour from where I am in NJ) and I love my Mommy & Daddy too. My dad also has strong hands being how handy he is, but also soft hands because he’s a Baker. :) His hand is always in the dough. :-) I take after him with the baking and cooking from my Mom and grew up in his bakery. He is now retired but works part-time at a young, 70 yrs old and so now when I have a cake order to make for someone, he comes over to help me finish the product and it’s so fun working together in the comfort of my home. thanks for sharing.

  5. Nan Hohenstein says:

    I just discovered your blog today. I have spent quite a while exploring. I, too adore Gladys Taber and her writings. This post regarding your dad is where I will make my departure from your blog, as my shirt is spotted with tears. When thinking of my dad, I first see his blue eyes and then his hands, adorned only with the thin band on his left hand, a gift from my mother. Both parents live only in my memory now and in my heart forever.

  6. Suzanne Williamson says:

    How is your mother doing? The one that taught you everything you share with us?

  7. Lori from Maine says:

    Oh, how I miss my Daddy. He’s been gone for almost 25 years, but I can still feel his flannel shirt, soft against my cheek, when I’d hug him. I can still smell the Old Spice, the sawdust and the “Daddy” smell of him. He left us way too soon at age 67, but I’ve made sure that the grandchildren and great grandchildren he never knew, know all about him. I too loved my Daddy’s hands. They were strong, capable of doing so many things, but not afraid to hold a tiny teacup when his “little girl” would have a very important tea party with him as the guest of honor! Thank you for sparking these memories. Although the tears are coursing down my cheeks, I’m smiling from ear to ear at the memory of him. Blessings…

  8. Susan, I was just searching all the different sites at the top of your recent blog and found this….how moving and Dads are such a special part of a girls life aren’t they? I still have my Dad who is 91 yrs. old and just now starting to show signs of his age….this man was climbing up on roofs in his 80′s scaring the bejeebers out of all of us…I finally said to the family “who wants to tell Dad that he isn’t 40 anymore”…none of us had the nerve. Dad worked hard his entire life and gave us a good life..he was in the Air Force for 20 years, when he retired we returned to his boyhood farm which was now his and he worked so hard from sunrise to sunset and beyond. Dad is the smartest man I have ever known and even with the signs of aging which is very hard to see, he will always hold a special place in my heart. A true Dad teaches you how a man is suppose to treasure you; so that when your special one comes into your life…you know he is the one for you. I know this because it is exactly what happened when my Jim walked into my life. Your Dad seems like a character just like mine, and I enjoy when he comes on your blog with his comments.

  9. Rhonda Dunn says:

    Hi Susan. I was so glad to see the blog about your Dad. Dad’s are so very precious to us gals. I need to write you, even through the tears and a broken heart. My Dad was diagnosed 2 yrs. ago with Mesothelioma (a type of lung cancer caused from exposure to asbestos); and we found out tonight that he’s not doing so well, it looks like the beginning of the end. So, it did my heart good to see you honoring your Dad. He sure is awesome, as my Dad is too. I feel better now after reading your blog; so I guess we can never underestimate how much the good we do in this world can affect others for the better. I love everything you do, and I have most of your books. My life and heart are such a mirror image of yours that it is almost scary. But you get to live yours “out loud” and we’re glad you do. Thank you for all you do and for sharing your life with us.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about your dad :-( Makes me very sad. He’s so lucky to have you, and of course, vice versa . . . God bless you and your family. xoxo

  10. Rhonda Dunn says:

    Hi again Susan. Thank you so much for your response and kind words for our family. I am also the oldest in my family, and at a time when I can’t think clearly for myself, I am getting inspiration, ideas, strength from you. I gave your books to my family for Christmas gifts this year. They loved them! One niece (my mini me) actually squealed in delight when she opened your “Home Cooking Traditions” recipe keeper. My Dad has been making breakfast for all of his girls, and everyone else who happened to be around, for 60+ years now. So, I plan to get my Dad to write out his “breakfast recipe” (among others) on your recipe cards. I will add your kind words and the recipe cards to the front of each binder (I bought one for me too) to be treasured forever. Thank you for being part of the healing for me and my family. Hugs from N.B. Canada. xoxo

  11. David Messer says:

    Susan
    Is it OK if an 83 year “old man” sends a note for your blog?
    A little choked up reading “My Dad” blog. Great hands.
    My Dad never hugged or said I love you but his heart and providing
    hands did. He was at every sports event that us boys were in.
    Taught us to box (in kitchen of old house) Enjoyed and encouraged
    our quartet singing and playing in town band. So you see that even
    sons were proud to have a “Great Dad”. Still love and miss him.
    Regards to your Dad I am also a Navy vet.

    • sbranch says:

      How nice to hear from you David! Love you being here. xo

    • Janet says:

      Hello David – what a loving and sweet comment. Thank you! Tears on my cheeks right now. My dad was a lot like yours I think. He loved us – I know he did – but showing it just wasn’t something men felt comfortable doing in the 50s and 60s. But he worked so hard for us, came home every night to my mother and his 6 kids – every paycheck went for our needs even though I’m sure there were a lot of other things he wanted & missed out on. God bless you and thank you for your service to our country in the Navy. PS – my dad was an MP in the Army during the early 50s in Berlin – I can still hear him telling us stories about that at the supper table.

  12. Kathy says:

    Oh how I miss my dad!!!! :(

  13. David Messer says:

    Thank you Janet
    It’s nice to draw from good stored memories.
    Susan B is very fortunate to be able to keep filling her “memory store”
    and also have close ties with her Dad. He sure sounds like a good one.

  14. Sharon O says:

    This is so wonderful, I hope you frame the picture of his hands, such a beautiful picture and tribute to a ‘love’ that is precious to you.

  15. Cheyenne Renard says:

    Susan youre so wonderful. I just love the pictures of your dad. I still live in Henderson Nevada its been a while since i have written. I would love to go to Nics and take ur dad and his wife to have a nice dinner.I know Cottonwood isnt too far.I pray all is well in your neck of the woods. Are you and Joe going to live in Ca any more. I love seeing the cats that rule the house on your site. I will send a snail mail card soon . Where are u both now and where can i send it ? Happy Feb almost St Pattys day.Let me know bout visitin your dad probley some time in Apr- May i will be going to Cottonwood Az.I am now a grand mother of 2 one girl Isabelle and one boy Jake he was just born Dec 2011 alot of blessings from Heaven. My love to you and Joe and the kitties be well and know how much you are loved by me and so many others.I am in the process of moving so when i do i will send on the address. Miss you love you God Richly bless u and joe and your mom and dad and family and of course the kitties too Love Cheyenne

  16. Dolores says:

    Love your newsletters, blog, your old dishes, linens, charming house, cats, drawing style, garden, and zest for life! Would love to be your neighbor!

  17. Janet says:

    Beautiful. I lost my lovely dad last year and miss him like mad. And strangely I think about his hands and I can see his hands in mine.
    Cherish your dad.

  18. Maxine Boyce Buckman says:

    Finding your website through Gladys Taber connection has made me very happy! As a formerly active person I am now having medical issues that keep me housebound so connecting vicariously with a “like minded” group has lifted my spirits. Im not as talented as your girlfriends nor as perky but do love books from an early age when I got my first library card in Hartford and went through most of the titles on your list over the years, love England where I went on a tour of my ancestors towns in East Anglica, enjoy woodlands and all of nature. You are a joy, Susan.
    Thanks so much. Today you must be sailing away!! It will be wonderful to “share” your adventures.
    Maxine

  19. Nikki says:

    I was so happy to see this post about your father, how wonderful that you still have him in your life. My father is 71 and lives half of the time in Florida and the other in Connecticut but we are not close so I haven’t seen him in three years. He was a good father while I was growing up though and I have many wonderful memories of times we shared. I’ve always loved him very much, we just don’t mesh well. I think you can still have great memories about your father no matter what. I’m a lemonade outta lemons kinda gal!

  20. barbara miller says:

    not a week ago i sat and held my father in laws’ hands just before he passed from this earth to eternity. he was 97. i held his hand and noticed how big they were and how golden brown they were from years of gardening. he made everything bloom. his roses were the size of cabbages.but now, as he lay there,i knew they were done with the work of this life. his once strong hands had held his childrens. his hands ….. thankyou,susan , for letting me meet your father. i know you don’t have time to read all the words we write,but i thankyou the same. b

    • sbranch says:

      I kind of do have time, I love reading what people say, and this was particularly beautiful Barbara, thank you so much. Very sorry for your loss, he probably needed to be in heaven now. xoxo

  21. Allen Rasor Sr says:

    Susan, Thank you for being a friend, employer and wholesome influence, to my Kellee, for so many years.
    As her Dad, I continue to appreciate you, and all you have done, for my Baby…….

    Al

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Al! So nice to hear from you! I should be thanking YOU! Kellee is so talented, and a pure joy to have around. I feel very lucky that our paths crossed and that it’s worked out so well! Have a wonderful day Al!

  22. Cathy Blair says:

    Wow! There are a lot of Daddy’s girls out there! It’s touching to me to read all the posts. Susan, I loved what you said about your Dad’s hands. My Dad’s hands are one of the strongest memories for me of my Dad that passed over 12 years ago. Now that I’m older I see my Dad’s hands in my own. I hope I do them justice and can use them to give as much strenghth, comfort, and joy to my kids and grandbabies as he gave to all of us. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Cathy Blair says:

    By the way I live in Prescott Valley, Az. Just on the other side of Mingus Mountain from Cottonwood. Hope you’ve been to Jerome. Wonderful little shops and a very unique setting for a town. There’s a kaleiloscope shop there that is awesome!

  24. Dana Burton says:

    Susan,
    I remember when you first posted this…I thought to myself at that time, I need to get a picture like that of my Dad’s hands…..Big, Squishy, Rough, yet so soft and warm to touch….. My Mom and Dad divorced in 2002 after 38 years of marriage and although my four sisters and I were grown and married with families of our own, it was still hard to believe at first. It was a very hard transition for my Dad…..sadly, we lost our Dad unexpectedly on August 4, 2012. I am the only sibling who lives out of town and an hour drive seemed like 12 hours to get to him. The very first thing I did when we got to my childhood home was grab his hand, although I knew in my head he was gone, my heart couldn’t believe it until I held his hand, immediately I knew his warmth and spirit were gone. Thankfully, your original post encouraged me to be more observant during the time I spent with my Dad. Although, I didn’t get a picture of his hands, it caused me to really look him over and now, those images are etched in my mind forever. Thank you!
    Love & Blessings,
    Dana B

    P.S. I have now gotten close-ups of Mom’s hands and face.:) Since losing Dad, I feel like I always have a camera in my entire families faces! I cherish every moment I get to visit with all of them.<3

  25. Julie says:

    I love my dad so much, he is now 77 years old. He’s quiet just like me, but no one on earth can make me laugh harder. My mom and dad were married in 1958, the year I was born, a little girl with big brown eyes and dark curly hair exactly like his. My dad could fix ANYTHING, so refrigerators, vacuums, the old white stove given to my parent’s as newlyweds (looks exactly like yours Susan), engines, lawn mowers, sewing machines, clocks, walls, bicycles, dolls, watches, plumbing, even the TVs back in the days they had tubes, lasted for decades. I so enjoy meandering around my childhood home, where our family grew up safe and sound. Your dad sounds a lot like mine. How lucky are we?

  26. Janis in NJ says:

    This is simply beautiful. Your photos speak volumes of the love for your father. My father left our world 4 year ago but I too carry those sweet memories with me in my heart. I wish I could still hold is hand as well : ) Thank you for placing this post in your “About Me” Section it truly deserves it’s own special home. God Bless You Susan! I know this is now 2013 but I’m so glad I found this post.
    All the best, Janis

  27. Maia says:

    What a sweet post. It made me think of my father. He has been gone for 37 years almost as long as he lived. My father was 39 when he passed away from pancreatic cancer. I was 10 and I wish we had a recording of his voice. I remember my father fighting cancer very bravely. The hospital he was in did not allow children to visit in the 70′s.
    Take Care,
    Maia

  28. susan lounsbury says:

    ISN’T IT WONDERFUL..SO MANY MEMORIES ABOUT OUR FATHER’S HANDS! MY FATHER HAS BEEN GONE FOR 34 YEARS AND YES, THOSE BEAUTIFUL HANDS REMAIN CLEARLY IN MY MEMORY.

  29. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    I like your Dad’s coffee mug! Your dad is happy and handsome.

  30. diana from ancaster says:

    Dear Susan, reading this post about your Dad has moved me to tears. I too have a dad with strong hands….my pa came from Northern Italy with nothing but his suitcase and a dream for a better life. My mother passed away 3 years ago …..they were married 57 years. He proudly says he learned, at age 80, that his house has a stove…a major discovery for a man of his generation. ……
    He’s now just celebrated his 86th birthday and constantly has to be reminded he’s not 50!.
    I cherish the moments my brother and I have with him……….and thank my lucky stars -my sons and grandson have the best role model ever.

    • sbranch says:

      You are a lucky girl to have him, he sounds like the American dream in action! Give him a hug for me. xoxo

      • diana from ancaster says:

        i certainly will give him a hug….he’s a ‘canadian dream in action’…lol
        we are so blessed to have been raised by such good men.

  31. Sue Muehlman says:

    I am frickin crying right now! That is how touched I am at youre wonderful memories for your Dad. This really hit home because i was “daddy’s little girl,” growing up and he is no longer here (been gone for 19 years) but the great man that he was will always live in my heart and soul! We did such fun things like play ‘kick the can’ with my young friends, take drives around the countryside,and always get late night burgers at White Castle. Like your Dad he wa strong capable, smart but tender and knew how to fix anything from a fuel pump on a car to a broken teen age heart. love you Daddy! Thank you Susan for sharing this awesome tribute, Cherish him forever!

  32. chris consentino says:

    well, I just had to do it. couldn’t go to bed without clicking onto “my dad”. when I hit the part about tenn. waltz…well, it was all over. my dad’s hands were always a very most special, special thing. they were beautiful. they were a piano-players hands. they were strong but gentle and delicate in a way. they were always entwined with my mom’s hands…67 yrs worth. when he was 86, he had a ruptured abdominal aneurysm….had surgery (believe it or not!!!) had 9 more yrs of good life (amazingly it hadn’t killed him outright and immediately!!!)and he was so heartbroken when my mom passed. he is now gone, but they both live on in my heart. forever. thank you. oh! thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>