When you look at my hands, what do you see? Aside from the obvious eight fingers, two thumbs and two palms you might notice a few scars, the huge lump on my middle finger from years of drawing with a pencil, but they are hands not much different from your own. When I look at my hands, I see so much more. I see where I came from and where I am bound to end up. You see, the older I get, the more I see that I have the same hands as my father.
My Dad embodies the phrase “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and he certainly applied this philosophy to his parenting style. For example, when my brother and I were about 4 & 5 we helped my Dad weatherproof our back porch. That may sound a bit crazy but just wait, it gets better. You see, at that time my parents didn’t have a lot of money so the most cost effective option was to use black tar. Imagine for a moment, giving a 4 year old a paint brush the size of his head and saying, “there’s a bucket of tar, get to it!”. Needless to say, my brother and I were covered in tar within the first five minutes.
But even after using an exorbitant amount of gasoline to clean us (yes gasoline; my father’s favorite method of disinfecting) My brother and I survived. We survived the years of living in a construction site as Dad built our house. Even roofing it at the age of 11 with the safety precaution of a thin yellow rope tied around our waist, there was no shortage of lessons to be learned the hard way. Lessons like why not to play with knives, watch out for closing doors, how to swing a hammer without smashing your thumb, and so many more.
Of course, not all of those lessons were learned firsthand. Some were through observation like the time when I was about 16. My dad and I were building something together and he was cutting a piece of wood on his rusty old band saw. Now they say that a dull tool is far more dangerous than a sharp one and after that day I know why but I’m not quite sure where I heard that. It definitely wasn’t from my pops because as he was pushing the wood through the dull blade, the piece slipped out and his thumb went right into the saw. He managed to stop it just before the blade hit bone. He came rushing into the house yelling “Ben! Get the band-aids!” In true Dad fashion, he rinses it off, had me put a gob of polysporin on it and about four band-aids later we went back to work. I said “shouldn’t you get stitches?” He said, “Naw, if I hold it above my head it stops throbbing”.
Even though I have my own set of scars, bumps, and calluses I have the same veiny hands as my father. They are the same strong, creative, and capable hands that he has, that my uncles have, and my grandfather had too. These are Frisch hands. Mostly everyone else with these hands is a mason but they have all been exceptionally crafty people. I’ve learned a lot by watching hands just like these do some incredible things, some funny things, and some downright stupid things. The good news is that everyone who has these hands never stops creating. From houses and stone fireplaces, to art and furniture, these hands were made for building and being creative and I know I will only stop making art when I die. The bad news is that there are, without a doubt, many more scars to come. But I will always remember that all I need to do is just keep my hand above my head and everything will be alright.