“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

52 thoughts on ““The Hands Of My Father”… By Justin Carr”

  1. What a fantastic poem, what a terrific son, what a wonderful father. Thank you for sharing this. I pray that your son’s dream comes true

    Funny thing about hands. Susan, I remember your father as having enormous hands, even when I shook hands with him as an adult. Funny thing though, his hands always felt somehow friendly. I know it sounds odd, but his huge hands didn’t intimidate, nor did your father seem to try to show how strong those hands were. I remember you and your brothers from St. Emydius and S.I., of coyrse, and your father’s friendliness, grace, kindness, and class is remembered by all who knew him.

  2. Happy belated Father’s Day to Rooney. What a lovely and heartfelt poem Justin wrote. He is a gift to us all. Love, Dona

  3. So beautiful, and the love continues on for your love for Justin, and he for you both was so powerful, so beautifully strong!

  4. What a message, I can’t wait to share this with my family. What a message to pass on. “BT” and Melvia, I know, are so proud.

  5. My Father’s Day started out with memories of my Champ, Justin . I decided not to be sad, and concentrate on all the positive memories I have of our family hugging, laughing, playing together. As the day progressed I started feeling sad— not having those memories of happiness. Next thing I remember is Susan telling me to open a package in Justin’s room. I opened the package and read the most precious words I have ever read before in my life! I couldn’t speak for several minutes. All I could do was cry uncontrollable tears, cleansing my tortured soul. Justin (Champ) no one has ever recognized me, honored me, looked up to me, rejuvenated my spirit the way you did with that beautiful poem you wrote about my hands, Thank you son, I love you every second, of every day, with all my heart.


  6. I am so happy that Darrell had such a special Father’s Day.
    Justin was truly an amazing person!
    Thanks for sharing.
    Always love,

  7. I am so happy that Darrell had such a beautiful Father’s Day.
    Justin was an amazing person! Thanks for sharing.
    Always love,

  8. What a beautiful tribute to Darrell on Father’s Day!
    Lovely words of truth too Susan. We all should tell those in our lives how much they mean to us everyday, because tomorrow is not promised. Thank you for the sage advice and thank you for sharing Susan. May God continue to keep you both in his arms.

  9. What an incredibly meaningful, beautiful poem and tribute to Darrell, given again by you Susan, in continued remembrance of our Dear, Justin. It is so very sweet of you, Susan, to compile these wonderful memories and give us all these gifts….the sharing of Justin’s love. Thank you…
    Love, Linella

  10. Beyond beautiful! I am so happy for you both to have received such a special gift from Justin. You both are so very special and inspiring! Love never ends.

    Jennifer & Mike

  11. I recently added a new word to my vocabulary….’ineffable’. You might know it but if not its Merriam-Webster definition is: too “great, powerful, beautiful, etc., to be described or expressed”. It’s the only way I can respond to these wonderful ways Justin continues to reach out to you. Bless you Susan and Darrell.


  12. Dearest Susan & Darrell.
    What a beautiful gift that those we have lost leave behind. I too discovered a few things today. I am taking 3 weeks off before I return back to work at my previous employment. This time, by my self during the days , will decidedly be the time I needed to go through my piles of stuff. The “to do” I never get to….my brother; Christopher, and my mother; Marie’s paperwork, that has not been touched since they both passed 7 years ago. First I went thought all my mothers papers, then her pictures, and holding her eyeglasses, and her address books. Scribbles of notes that don’t make much sense to me, but they did to her, and it made me smile to remember her handwriting again. Then after a few hours, it was time for my brothers stuff. Letters he kept from the silly folded note book paper box notes we all wrote in Jr. high, and high school, address books of his many , many friends, and his picture from the memorial that jumped out at me with his big smile. BUT what also jumped out was this beautiful card from Darrell, Susan & Justin. Reading Justin’s name today, sending condolences to me for my family. Thank you, it felt good to see that card again today, and remember what a great family you are, and what a sweet boy Justin was.
    Happy Fathers Day. Love Always Catherine Ray

    1. Cat!!!!!! I am go glad you are on your treasure hunt of affirmation of the unconditional love you had for your Mom and your brother. Love can never be broken. It’s time to meet before your 3 weeks are off xoxoxo

  13. Happy Fathers Day Darrell! Susan thanks for sharing this most precious poem with us. We continue in Justin’s name yo pray for Wirld Peace… Boy do we need it today more than ever.

  14. How beautiful. A perfect and perfectly timed Father’s Day gift from Justin. You can’t make this stuff up. And we get to witness bits of the blending of the worlds of us and our loved ones who have cfossed over. Darrell’s brother said it best. Justin lives on.

  15. Thank you for sharing Susan. This is beautiful. You both poured into Justin and did a great job. The world is a better place because of it. Love to you both. Lois

  16. Susan, what a special gift to present to my buddy and brother, Darrell. I know that this gift filled a void in his day like no other gift you could have pick- out for him from your personally choosing that could have brought the fulfillment that you both are now experiencing on this special day! Susan you also trusted and opened up your heart to divine inspiration, and for that, Justin continues to live on. Keep trusting your heart! Much love, Gary

  17. Dear Susan,
    Thank you for sharing your beautiful gift of love, and thank you for sharing Justin’s poem and these poignant photos.
    You remain my hero, always.

  18. The most beautiful Father’s Day words of appreciation that I’ve ever heard… and no one more deserving than Justin’s Dad, Darrell — and how beautiful that these were brought together by you, Susan. Justin experienced and connected to FAMILY like few others that I’ve known.

    With great appreciation and love always,
    Justin’s Ms. Hall

  19. This is just beautiful, Susan, I cannot imagine how sad this day must be for Darrell but he is so blessed to have you to help him through it with your beautiful tribute. Love to you both from Jeff and I

  20. To My Darling Friend Darrell- Whisper I love you to a butterfly and It will fly to Heaven to deliver your message. Thinking of you on Father’s Day and always with love. As ever,Moira XOXO

  21. Dearest Susan,
    Darrel’s poem was just beautiful. Thank you for sharing his poem with all of us. You have truly touched our hearts.

  22. Dear Susan,
    You and Darrell are both so talented in so many ways-you with words, Darrell with his hands. Those stairs are beautiful! I’m thinking of you both today, with much love as always. My memories are of Justin, a poet, an artist an athlete; most importantly, a kind and caring soul. Thank you for sending his lovely tribute to Darrell.
    With gratitude for all you give,

  23. What more could anyone say after that. I am overwhelmed at all of the things you had of Justin’s in a life way too short. But what a perfect gift to Darrell. How beautiful , Susan. What love. What love still radiates from Justin to you and Darrell.
    On this journey with you

  24. Thank you for sharing this. Your words and pictures continue to remind me not to
    take for granted one minute of the day.

    Love you both,

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