“The Hands Of My Father”… By Justin Carr

The Hands of My Father

As I said before, I can’t make this stuff up!! Just a few weeks ago (due to water damage) I was forced to go through “stuff”  that I really wanted to leave in place forever… But, in hindsight, I was glad I was pushed because I found yet another treasure that Justin left behind.  It was beyond appropriate and perfect timing for this Father’s Day.

I grabbed one of Justin’s middle school backpacks that lay dormant in his closet. I never looked at his homework assignments. Pretty much he was self-supportive in ALL of the homework that he ever did—and he rarely asked for help. Well, let me take that back. I do remember one time when he was in 5th grade and he was up late putting the final touches on his project. We assured him that he should go to bed and that if he places the pictures in order for his poster:“Shaquille O’Neal for President” we would glue them down. To make sure that they stuck, Darrell and I came up with the “grand” ideal to lay heavy books over the documents. The next morning we learned we had made a major faux pas. The pressure from the books made the glue seep beyond the picture borders and ruin the paper and the overall layout. In other words it was indeed really a “hot mess”! Justin was mad and told us: “Please, never touch my stuff again!” So we did not.

In any event, as I was going through loose paper, when I came across an assignment that Justin had for 8th grade English- to write a poem. As I read through all of the drafts and the final document, once again the words from our young Renaissance man, took my breath away. It was a poignant poem about his Dad… “The Hands of My Father”

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My Fathers hands are his most prized possessions.

The roughness,

From fixing many broken things

The splinters,

From moving old firewood back and forth

The burns,

From making bonfires for my birthday

He has now learned from his mistakes and wears his marks like trophies

Big ones.

Small ones.

Ugly ones.

Each and every one is wonderfully displayed in his hall of fame.

Every time I walk through my Dad’s hall of experience,

I think about what it would be like to just have a small portion of his experience.

To know so much,

Would be the best thing to have…

… And those little trophies would be really nice, too

Along with stories about where those marks came from

And where the cuts came from

They’d make a great book of knowledge

A book called “My Dad.”








As a surprise, I put all of the drafts and the final copy of the poem in a nice frame for Darrell- to remind him often how much a great Dad that he was for Justin -and that he will always be.


I don’t know if any of you have suffered from a loss (of any kind) and felt like you wished you should have done things differently, spent more time, said more things etc. Darrell and I have talked often about unfinished business we had with Justin. However, I hope that this poem is now proof for Darrell on yet another Father’s Day (sans Justin) that Justin loved him dearly, appreciated what he taught him and learned so much by his Father’s good examples of how to be a gentleman, with integrity, strength, compassion and empathy for others. I appreciate you too Darrell.






From an early age Justin watched Darrell build and fix things and subsequently he knew how to paint, build and work with concrete too.

In 8th grade he made a ceramic tool kit piece of art for Darrell







Later in life, Justin helped his peers with construction activities in New Orleans to help construct a house of Habitat for Humanity
















Darrell has many hobbies and can work with concrete, metals and woodwork. Justin could do the same. Darrell has a lot of work in progress projects around the house. He has started a garden for Justin, and laid each and every rock with “his hands” and he just recently completed an extension on the stairs in the yard… So much love.


































Butterfly flower in Darrell’s Garden


Darrell, I can’t imagine what your pain is without Justin, by your side. I do hope that you can look at this poem and know that you indeed did a wonderful job as Justin’s Dad from the beginning to the end. And as you move forward you will always be Justin’s Dad and Justin will always be your son!  You gave him the gift of life ( with a little help from me!)

This poem that Justin wrote in 8th grade  says it all.  Darrell the words of your son could not have been put any better.  You were his ” Hall of Fame”


First Beach outing in the Bahamas












Darrell and Justin in Australia ( I stayed at home)








At his friend Tara’s Arangetram
















Justin learned from Darrell so he too could help others









Postscript.. Darrell texted me this picture that he took of himself with the note” This has been the best gift ever, next to seeing  Justin (Champ) being born. Thank you very much Susan (Justin’s Mom)IMG_0510