The House that Jack Built . . .

Beautiful quiet morning….still dark, frogs croaking in the golf course across from my Dad’s house. I’m all set up 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, 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, 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, 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.

He sends me his favorite recipes, written in his own handwriting.  His hands helped to build the house that is my life.

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 under our belt.  I wish we could stay.   Just one more hand-holding will have to do for now. ♥ I love my Daddy.

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260 Responses to The House that Jack Built . . .

  1. Linda H says:

    Susan, what a touching blog entry, right from the heart! I can tell that your Dad is quite a guy! Maybe you should include his recipes in one of your books!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s his Turkey Meatloaf in the Girlfriend’s Book!

    • Janet Hundley says:

      I agree…I want to know what the daily breakfast is. Wouldn’t he just be the kind of guy to have a dog, Daisy and wouldn’t she just look adoringly at him? I lost my dad a couple of years ago. I am so happy for you that your father is still with you. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Susan Jones (CLBCQ) says:

    Just a note to let you know that this sentiment/reflection brought tears to my eyes… Although I never had a strong father figure, I had two amazing grandfathers, each so very special in their own unique ways, both overflowing with incredible talents. My mom’s father, the first generation born in America from Bohemian parents, dropped out of school in the 8th grade so that he could go to work in the underground tunnels of the Cleveland Illuminating Company (now FirstEnergy)… He worked for them all of his career, slowly climbing the corporate ladder out of the tunnels… Regardless of his lack of formal education, he was extremely intelligent and had the most beautiful handwriting. Thanks for giving me a nudge to pause during this (yet another) crazy busy hectic day and remember my grandpas. xoxo

  3. Oh what a sweet post this was to read~thanks Susan! I loved the picture of Dad’s hands.

  4. Nicksgranma says:

    I lost my dad 15yrs ago and this is making me cry. It is sad for the loss but the memories ,like yours, are wonderful to cherish and you have brought those all back to me in detail. You have the real person available to you so pleeeaase take advantage of that…cause when he’s gone a part of your heart will be missing.

    • sbranch says:

      Now you’re making us cry! Your words are so meaningful to us, my dad is reading over my shoulder.

    • Jacquelyn W. Bainbridge Island,WA says:

      What a lovely post. I lost my own dear dad in 1966(he was only 52).Cherish the time and moments you have with your father as they are so dear. It too brought tears to my eyes.

  5. Suzanne says:

    Aw….Susan this was so touching, you and you’re dad. It’s amazing that time passes by so quickly and our lives take us to all different places. The memories we have of our childhood we keep in our hearts forever.

  6. Angie(Tink!) says:

    Good Morning ♥ Sunshine…Tears in Me Eyes…Thinking of My Daddy….give a Hug from Me to Your Wonderful Daddy…Jack… & Jeannie….& Daisy(Woof!)….Hold On Tight Sweet Sue….Love all Your Photos this Morning I can hear The Frogs….ahhhhhhhhh Perfect way to Begin this New Season….Happy Autumn…Safe Journey to You & Joe Back on The Twain….(all aboard…choo~choo)….Enjoy all The Magic of This Day My Friend….L♥ve & Joy…xoxo Poof! 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      We are, my Dad is now turning the bacon, Joe’s helping him. xoxo

      • Angie(Tink!) says:

        Omggggggg! Hello Sweet Sue! I Just showed Herbster all Your Photos & Read Him Your Wonderful Words! I can smell That Bacon Sweet Sue….awww Joe & Jack… Makin’~Bacon…Pure Joy! & always Pure Yumminess! Yay! Huge Smile on My Face! Thanks Sweetest Sue! A Toast….(how bout Mimosas?) To You Sweet Sue & Joe & Jack & Jeannie & Daisy… to a Glorious Autumn Day! Yay! L♥ve L♥ve L♥ve….& a Bit of Autumn Pixie~Dust! xoxo Poof!

  7. madame samm says:

    Ahhh to see you and YOUR POP…very touching indeed my dear…
    My parents are long gone, and this reminded me sew much how much I miss what we never had….Thank you for sharing with us of your most amazing life- it really is picture perfect…much like a black and white movie come to life…
    sew touching to my heart x

  8. Country Gal says:

    I to lost my dad 15 years ago . I am glad you have your dad to visit and be with . A lovely post. My dad to had the same size and shaped hands as your dad ,gental, strong and loving hands , a builder , gardener and farmer my dad was ! Your dad looks like a wonderful fellow. Have a great day with him !

  9. Martha Ellen says:

    Hold your Dad tight dear Susan! Such a beautiful post–I can hardly type–tears falling down my cheeks! He raised a very special daughter and must be awfully proud of you—My dear Daddy is in heaven now and and was the most wonderful man! Hold tight! xoxoxo

  10. BJ says:

    Like several others, your description of your dad and your relationship with him and the memories of childhood brought tears to my eyes as well. I love the word picture of putting your hand in his and feeling like you are 6 again. So special. You are very blessed.

    • sbranch says:

      My dad is being funny now, all proud of his hands, “I’ll cut that cantaloupe; these hands were made for cantaloupe.”

      • Karen P says:

        How sweet is that! Just one little comment that will forever boost his self-image and let him know how special he is to you! So much so that you thought to share it with ALL your “girlfriends!” He is absolutely precious!

  11. Sheri says:

    I love the photo of your dad’s hands, and I’m so glad that he still sends you recipes in his own handwriting. I’m afraid that too many people are losing the art of handwriting and it’s so powerful. I have several recipes in my box that were handwritten by my sweet grandmother, who has been gone for over 15 years now. I can be flipping through my recipes and come to one of her handwritten ones, and just hear her little German voice talking to me. That’s how strong the memories are, associated with her precious writing. I’m glad you have that from your dad!

  12. Belinda says:

    Susan, your post today meant the world to me and truly touched my heart. My dad died when I was 18 years old and I have had a void in my heart since. I can’t believe it will be 30 years next April 1. Some of the things that still bring a smile to face is when I get out letters he wrote to me during my freshman year of college and various other handwritten items he gave me. Seeing your dad’s handwritten recipes just knocked me over and made me cry; they are precious! Enjoy the time you have with your family!

  13. Patricia says:

    Beautiful, touching words. I lost my dad when I turned 15; he was a mere 50 years old. His favorite singer was Johnny Cash, and “I Walk the Line” was his favorite tune. The only item of my dad’s that I own is his “Folsom Prison Blues” album, which he would play over and over on our stereo system.
    Susan, cherish each and every moment you can with your dad. Those memories will be what stays with you in your golden years.

  14. Carol says:

    There is nothing like a Daddy-Daughter relationship! So sweet. And how endearing to have his hand written recipes. There is something about it being in their own hand that just draws us closer! Don’t you think?

  15. Siobhan says:

    Oh my gosh, you have us all bawling this morning! I lost my dad 20 years ago next month, and I vividly remember the last time I held his hand and how it made me feel like a little girl again. We didn’t have an easy time of it, the two of us, but I still miss him so much. The picture of your dad’s hands with your cup…it’s just beautiful and special. We’re a sentimental bunch over here. I’m glad he’s seeing the humor in it. And I love a dog named Daisy! Happy trails, little Mary Sunshine, even when you make us cry, we feel the warmth of your ways.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so glad I took this photo, I was just telling Joe, I will treasure it forever, I know.

      • Barbara (WA) says:

        I especially love that photo, too, and how it will be a treasure for you forever. My daddy died 23 years ago but I have a stack of letters he wrote to our son, his first grandchild, when he was a little boy and we lived far away. He’d never even written me a letter !! Spent yesterday with my sweet, soon-to-be 89 momma.

  16. Jen Oliver says:

    What a sweet, wonderful tribute to a wonderful man! My husband and I are awaiting the birth of our first baby, and I hope he’ll have some such wonderful things to say about his Papa someday… I don’t doubt he will ;o) I snagged a keeper when I found my man… Your mom certainly did!

  17. Lori C. says:

    Susan Dear!
    I cannot believe you are in Cottonwood!! Just a short drive over the mountains of Prescott through the 127 curves to Jerome down to Cottonwood to you and your precious Daddy! (The one so beloved in your Day’s Book – F-Troop and Barney Fife!) Cherish your stay!!

    • sbranch says:

      That’s the one! Can you believe how beautiful this day is? Aren’t we lucky?

      • Lori C. says:

        Absolutely Blessed!!! And Nothing beats the sunshine of a Father’s Love!

        • Naomi B. says:

          Susan, would you ever consider doing a book signing or something similar in the Cottonwood area? So close to some of us! 🙂 Love the posts and especially the wonderful picture of your father’s beautiful hands! Thanks for taking us with you on your journey! Hugs and smiles!

  18. laurie says:

    those are the hands of a hard working loving man,, I always feel our hands tell a story and your words today brought tears to my eyes.My Daddy is gone and I envy this moment you shared with us today,, what a joy,, and I’ve made that meat loaf,, he;s a darn good know i feel like i kinda know him from your books,, what a wonderful man,, for one thing he gave us you,, that has enriched our lives as well!,, What a beautiful spot for a home!Wow!!!thankyou susan

  19. Juliana says:

    Hi Susan, I have been a huge fan of yours from the very first HOTH book, and have been acquiring and giving gifts of all things Susan Branch for years! I love everything I see! This post truly hit home, as I am the youngest of seven, (tail end of the baby boom) and am so truly fortunate/blessed to still have both my parents, who celebrated their 90th birthday this year. I try to visit as often as possible, they are both still as sharp as ever, just celebrated their 65th anniversary. I am always amazed by this generation! Seems that my Dad has more energy then me on most days! Still gardening, cooking, woodworking! So many gifts that they give us. No matter what the age, we need to enjoy the time we can spend with them – I am still learning from him. Thank you for sharing your dad with us – that turkey meatloaf recipe is one of our favorites!!!

  20. Dolores says:

    Every morning I look for your wonderful posts. They always bring so much more into my little world in the country. But today was so very special. Thank you so much Susan for sharing so much of your life with us. Today brought me back to my Grandfather who was my father figure, the one who I always knew loved me and kept me in his heart always. He has been gone for so long now, but this morning brought so many wonderful memories of what an amazing man he was. How much he is still in my life in so many ways. I realize so many of the things I love and respect in life came from him. How blessed we are.

  21. Sivje says:

    Beautiful. You made me all teary. I am glad you got some time with your daddy. I loved your description of your daddy’s hands.

  22. mari1017 says:

    Thank you for such a beautiful post today – I started crying at the photo of your dad’s hands. We, too, lost my dad in 1989 when he was still young. I was his oldest daughter and miss him still. It is wonderful to be here in a place with so many people who love and loved their dads and have such wonderful memories. I feel truly surrounded by love and understanding. Now I’m laughing through tears because I am having problems with plumbers, electricians, heating system conversion – 5AM with no hot water AGAIN – lost a day of work – and now I’m thinking of how my dad would take charge and nothing was ever too small or unimportant to do, fix or solve for his family – 🙂 We are all truly blessed!
    Thank you for such a loving post, kindred spirit!!! Your site always brightens my day!

  23. Lisa M. Topp says:

    Dear Susan….
    My reflection of my Dad is the same as yours!!!! I miss him terribly and your words truly warmed my heart. Thank you for that! Please give your Dad an extra hug for me 🙂

  24. Pat Mofjeld says:

    Loved this posting though it made me cry, too. My dad died in 2000. I always called him “Daddy”, even when I was grown up–that was just his name to me. I miss him so much. Know that is part of life but still hard, hard, hard…I thank him, in my mind, so many times for the things he taught me, the encouragement he game me, and the love he gave us kids. I will catch myself saying something that sounds like something he would say or I will think a thought that I know came from him, and I am so grateful he was my dad. What I’d give to hear his voice or talk with him again…

  25. Clare Palmatier says:

    I love this! I just wish I could read the rest of the peperoni pasta salad recipe. How much wine vinigar? and what kind of seasoning? What a great idea to have wine suggestions too. Maybe he would help you with a new book on traditional recipies. I’d buy a copy or three! This reminds me of the time my Dad took my three year old daughter out on a winter day and the picture of their footsteps in the snow.. I had no camera but I cherish the image in my mind. Love your books and site!

  26. Rosemary says:

    The post today is so sweet and touching. Tears. The reference to your Dad’s hands is poignant to me. My Daddy was raised on a farm, had a hunting accident when he was 15 and lost one of his hands. He went on to college..then master’s then phD and had a really interesting career in geology. He also enjoyed wood working…with one hand and he was quite good. So, this really hit home…with the hands of your Dad…so tender and so strong! Hello to him and all! Have a nice day.

  27. Lorrie says:

    What a beautiful post, Susan. I love looking at my parents’ hands, too – they convey so much love, both practical and “just because.”

  28. Carla Meredith says:

    There is nothing on the earth better than having a strong, loving dad. So glad you still have yours (and I still have mine). Safe travels.

  29. Connie says:

    O, what a sweet and touching post. It’s just as sweet as can be. Great pix! I love that view from the porch. Wishing you safe travels as you continue the trip.

  30. Jeanette says:

    Susan, What a sweet, heartfelt post I read through tear-blurry eyes…I too love my Daddy! We’ve been a team, further reinforced this past year as my Mom has had several debilitating falls while we’re a thousand miles apart. We speak at least three times a day to stay in touch and me keep him company as she’s been in the hospital and now in rehab again. I’m in the process of moving them in with us and can’t wait to take care of them and cherish every moment we have together…Funny how all of a sudden I’m realizing they ARE aging when in my mind they’ve been in their 40s forever. Thanks for sharing. XOXO, Jeanette

  31. Connie says:

    I didn’t read any previous posts prior to mine above, gee, we readers seem to think alike, don’t we, same words for many of us. Next time I’ll read before typing. :))

  32. Nellie says:

    What an amazing tribute to your father! This is a day of remembering for me, though not of my father, but of my mother whose 103rd anniversary of the day of her birth is today. My father has been gone 38 years, and my mother for 28. I still miss both of them terribly. I know you will hold the memories of this time with your father close to your heart. xoxo

  33. Lisa says:

    So glad you started this blog Susan. I just love all your posts! You were even closer to my place today! I’m just few miles outside of Prescott. Happy our weather has been so beautiful for you, while you’ve had this sweet time with your Dad. Don’t you just love old town Cottonwood! I recently bought a rotary dial desk phone over at Checkered Past Antiques. Love those little shops!

  34. Barbara (WA) says:

    And I want to say “Hello” Jack Stewart – thank you for letting your daughter share you with us !

  35. Terri says:

    I also loved the picture of your Dad’s hands. We often think of babies hands and feet but not others in our life and that is kinda sad. I took all kinds of pictures of my husband before this last deployment to Afghanistan. And what do I miss the most when he is gone? Holding his hands! I didn’t have a good family life as a child and my dad wasn’t like yours but I am SO glad you have these beautiful memories of your precious Dad! Hugs to your Dad from me! Smiles with tissues and tears…

  36. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss my daddy. I am 60 years old and we lost him 20 years ago. His hands were big and strong, too. My hands look much like his. Remember every touch and smell of your Daddy. Hold it close to your heart. I have just discovered your site–it is wonderful!!!!!!!

  37. Chris Power says:

    Hi Sue & Jack,

    I am crying like a baby after reading your blog and seeing the pictures. Your dad was a big part of my growing up also and it makes me miss my dad so much more.
    I miss him everyday and he was all those things your dad is, except not so good at tying stuff on the roof of the car. LOL! And building things, of course. I remember the boys getting scalped and stuffing newspapers and all the fish we had in the freezer. Give your mom a big hug for me too when you see her.
    Love to your family from ours,


    • sbranch says:

      Hi Chris, my dad is standing right here, sending love back to you! And laughing because of the fish and Ed with the packing for camping! Hope to see you soon, on our way to mom’s this afternoon. Will give her your message. Love xoxo

  38. Barb Kucera says:

    Susan, thank you for sharing your Daddy with us. Mine is gone for ten years now and I miss him every day. He was our cook and our disciplinarian, our resident smart-alec and our surgeon and so many other things. Enjoy the time with your Dad and hug him every chance you get…even if he’s telling you to “knock it off already” 🙂

  39. Jacqui G says:

    This brought tears to my eyes…lost my Daddy a year ago June. I miss him dearly- there can never be enough hand-holding…

  40. Patricia says:

    Really beautiful post, Susan. I was never close to my own father. He was too young when I was born and lived too far away. We both try, now. But I’ve never had and never will have that hand-holding Daddy feeling. However, I look at my daughter with my husband and I can see that they do have it and always will. Thank you for such a lovely post- it truly brought tears to my eyes. xx

  41. Bobbie says:

    I got all teary while reading the blog and then got teary again reading all the comments. I have been blessed with 3 fathers- when I was 3 my mom left my sister’s dad and I got a new dad for my 4th birthday. ( I couldnt figure out what was wrong with the old one) The one thing I remembered about LeeAnne’s dad was- his hands! I remember holding Dad’s hand as we walked down the long long hallway to see my new sister in the hospital. For the the next 23 years that was the only memory I had of him. Then my sister decided she needed to find him and find him she did! Now Dad is very much a part of our life even though he is way across the country. The other two dad’s (Pasan and Daddy) were great too but nobody’s hands are like Dad’s! Thank you for sharing!

  42. Marianne says:

    Susan, this blog brought such tears…. I lost my dad 25 years ago, and he’s still alive. You’re a very lucky woman to have a sweet dad in your life.

  43. Bobbie says:

    I actually came over here to comment on Willard- I have been saving it in my emailbox all week so I could sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and read it. A couple times I almost opened it but I held back. I admire my self restraint!!! Willard didnt disappoint! I enjoyed it with a YUMMY gingerbread latte! Thank YOu THank You!

  44. Laura says:

    Oh Susan what a wonderful story, I love the photo of your Dad’s hands. My Daddy died when I was only 5 years old. I don’t have many memories of him but one of my favorite photos of he & I, I am sitting on his lap and we are holding hands. Thank you for sharing.


  45. Stephanie says:

    This made me cry. Such beautiful words. I can tell just by looking at him that he is a sweetheart!

    Ok – now that he has an i-pad and a lifetime full of knowledge we need him to be a guest-blogger on your blog. We demand it Dad!

  46. What a sweet post. Your dad reminds me of my dad. They must be around the same age. Here is a photo of my dad and my husband (both named Gordon) at my niece’s wedding this summer.

    They are in the photo second from the bottom. Family really is what it is all about, isn’t it?

  47. Carol D. says:

    God bless you ALL!

  48. Linda Pintarell says:

    Two words popped out immediately on your blog: “Dad” and “Cottonwood”. Your love for your dad and special relationship brought tears to my eyes. I LOVED my dad; I was his only child. After my mom passed, my dad moved to San Diego to be with me and we had 17 wonderful years of memories together before he passed at 96 in 2008. Cottonwood – my dad’s Uncle George and Auntie Pop lived there. Auntie Pop was a nurse well into her 90’s; both are buried there. I took dad back several times and we visited the old homestead, now abandoned. Remember Nic’s. Dad was a professional baseball player; but worked in mines in Jerome during off season and lived with his aunt and uncle. Fond memories were brought back today.

  49. karen saunders says:

    Dear Susan, This is not the house that Jack built…. it is the ‘LOVE’ that Jack built. You and your siblings are a testament to the love that your parents painstakingly, patiently and filled with love, that they put in to you. That definitely is why you are such a great person in so many ways. Your exuberance for life and child-like goodness that follows you everywhere. Comes out in your art, towards your friends and fans. It is your essence. How the heck did they do it with 8 children. Anyway, what could be more important than raising children, 1 or 20 that are compassionate, loving, generous and kind? …..the answer is nothing!

  50. JudyCnNC says:

    I think I perhaps had a more special relationship with my father-in-law than my own father during my young married years and my own father had passed. My FIL had a 7th grade education but attained great achievements and honorary degrees working with special needs children – down’s symdrone and other emotional and mental disabilities- and later built a rehabilitation center (that was named after him) so these children could be gainfully employed and attain a sense of self worth within their individual capacity. My own brother-in-law had Down’s and worked there, which meant our entire family volunteered and worked there helping them. Mr. K taught us all so much about about unselfishly rising above your means and making your life count for something. A true inspiration and leader in the rights for these wonderful special children. I miss him greatly and was so glad he was part of my learning years of life. Judy C

  51. Carol D. says:

    I remember walking down the street with my daddy when I was VERY small. He was very tall and would give me one finger to hold onto, my hand wrapped around it just right! He’s in heaven now.

  52. Mrs.T says:

    What a beautiful, beautiful post! My dad is 88 and your dad’s hands remind me of his. I remember one of my daughters wrote an essay once about “My Grampa’s Hands”. She was only 17 at the time but she really captured the strength and caring of my dad’s hands. How thankful those of us who still have our dads can be! Thank you for sharing your heart.

  53. Judy Mapston says:

    Love your post. My Dad was also Jack. He passed away almost 2 yrs ago and I miss him so much. My whole family lives in Arizona so I know Cottonwood well. I used to live in Flagstaff. I still have a sister there. My other family lives in Scottsdale. Beautiful countryside!! Thanks for sharing. Judy

  54. essuzy says:

    Susan, such a touching post of visiting your dad. My dad was similar in many ways. When I’m gardening I am reminded of doing things with him & how he loved to garden. Also when I’m with my granddaughter I think of how he loved spending time with my two kids…so glad they had those times. He’d always end a visit with them by saying, ” see you in the funny paper” My dear girlfriend Debbie told me to save some of the humorous grocery lists my dad wrote each week. So glad I did. These are the memories your precious post brought me today as I read through tears. Thank you for sharing. If I were your dad or Jeanne I’d never be able to leave that porch to do anything in the house! Beautiful

  55. Hello Susan and Jack

    Your blog always brings a smile and sometimes a tear, today the tears are a flood. My brother died before I was born and I was always my Dad’s pal. We were strong together when Mum died, I was 15 and I was was strong for him as he suffered early onset Alzheimer’s. My son (who left home 3 weeks ago to make his way in the world) never met my Dad but is an echo of him.
    Sharing about your dad and your relationship has also been an echo. I’m a technologist and my Dad an aeronautical engineer how he would have loved an iPad 🙂 Mentioning the Johnny Cash song reminded me of my Dad’s beautiful tenor voice and made me realise how delighted he would have been to be given access to YouTube.
    I wish you and your family many blessings, thank you again for sharing it has meant so much to me. Delighted to be introduced to you Jack.
    Love Jacqueline xx

  56. Libby Pasztor says:

    Guess I’ll add my tear-y thanks to all the others—that was such a beautiful tribute to your Daddy! My Daddy turned 90 this past July, and my husband and I went to Florida to help him and my mother celebrate the event. Whenever he says he’s getting tired, and feeling old, I just tell him, “I’m not finished with you yet—-you better be here when I get back!” SO grateful that both my parents are still waiting for my next visit—-soon, I hope! Do enjoy the rest of your trip, though I’m sure your visit with your dad and Jeannie will be the highlight. 🙂

  57. Kim says:

    My goodness this is a touching and beautiful post, Susan.
    The bond between a dad and daughter is so special and somehow seeing that photo of your dad’s hands holding your beautiful teacup evoked a strong emotion in me. Your thoughts on his hands, especially … “all warm and pure comfort in there”. Please pass the kleenex. So very sweet.
    Like many of the other commentors, my own dear dad resides in heaven now. Although it has been ten years, I miss him more each day.
    So glad you had this visit with your dear dad. The recipes he shares with you are wonderful. Now that both of my parents are gone, I treasure anything with their handwriting on it.
    Wishing you safe travels on the next leg of your journey.

  58. deezie says:

    Hi Susan
    Okay first let me wipe the tears. That was such a beautiful personal touching post. I am still crying. I just lost my Dad 2 months ago. You are blessed to have your Daddy in your life still. How wonderful to still be able to hold his hand. Enjoy this time with him. He is a Handsome man!

  59. Tricia B. says:

    Thank you Susan for the lovely tribute to your dad. How lucky for you to get to visit him. The photos are wonderful so thank you for sharing. I lost my dad 10 years ago to cancer and miss him single everyday. I am the last of eight children and though he is gone; his memories continue to live through all of us. The values we were all taught, I just can’t tell you how I appreciate everything he did for me. The world is so different now, most people (except your fans) are different now. It seems to me that no one cares anymore about anything and it makes me sad. I just hope I can be the kind of parent to my son as he was to me. Thank you again for sharing your life with all of us. Your blog is one of the best parts of my day!! Be safe on your continued travels. GOD Bless. Much Love and Many Hugs, Tricia B

  60. Theresa says:

    …so honorable in the way that you post on this blog…..God Bless your entire family Susan!

  61. Jennie says:

    Susan- that was so beautiful. Obviously his children are proof as to what a beautiful man he is- sounds like he let it spill out on his kids; all that caring and love. There isn’t a more important legacy to be had.

  62. Kristina says:

    No words… in a puddle… at work of all places! 😉

    Can’t wait to see my Dad (and Mom) in 13 days! They’re coming from Ohio to visit me in Central Texas…

  63. Sandy Richmond says:

    I have to share this with you- my brother snapped a photo of just my dad’s hands, baiting a hook- when he was old. His fingers were big and gnarly from arthritis, but he could still get bait on a hook! I have that picture framed and up in my kitchen- I look at it every day! My dad, too, is gone now, and all of the others are right- enjoy your dad. I can;t tell you how many times I still want to call my dad on the phone, and I can’t….P.S.- I got an Ipad this year- I love it!

  64. judy says:

    You make me want to cry……

  65. Rosemary (Sissy) says:

    Beautiful picture of your Daddy’s hands…my Pops hands looked so much the same, strong and square, rough and warm. My Pops is gone since 1996 but my hands are minitures of his so I think of him often. My little grand-daughter’s hands are similar to mine so, the gene pool carries on. Daddy’s hands, what more of a lasting treasure than to see him in my grand-daughter. Whenever I think of my Pops, I always say, “thanks for visiting me today”…treasure your Daddy, I still treasure mine.

  66. Sheryle Towle says:

    The hands of our parents tell so many stories. You wrote a wonderful tribute to your Dad; he must be very, very proud! I was able to hold my dad’s hand as he left this world & entered the other side. I will never forget.

  67. Priscilla says:

    Well this one made me cry. My Dad passed away 30 years ago, I don’t have any letters only my memories and the market in the San Fernando Valley he founded with his partners 60 years ago. Love the photo of your Dad’s hands. I don’t have a photo but have exact recall of both my parents hands.

  68. Clairellen says:

    Dear Susan and Jack, thank you SO much for sharing your day with us…we all are reading through happy teary eyes. My Daddy is gone from earth now too, but we feel his presence every day…we moved north and built our home on the land he dearly loved, and can feel his spirit right here with us. Often I feel him looking down at our bevy of kitties, our dog Daisy and the garden he would love to weed for us (I sure need him here for that!). Susan, thank you for your daily blog…I look forward to it so…. your Daddy helped make you the beautiful girl you are today, who we all love!

  69. Kimi says:


    I am happy for you in that you have your Dad! this to me is very beautiful, you look like him around the eyes and cheekbones. I lost my dad Susan at the age of only 69 if he where a live today he be 84. I miss him so much. When seeing you with your lovely father I’m very happy for you. Looks like you enjoyed your visit with him too! Keep holding hands even when your apart… I’m still hold my dads hands in my heart.

  70. You did it this time Susan, you made me cry . This is so sweet and the picture of you, your Dad with his wife is so precious. I love the picture of his hands and you sharing your childhood comforts. You and Joe are making wonderful memories with your train ride and family visits along the way. Many Blessings (((:

  71. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Big sigh – such a sweet blog in honor of your wonderful Daddy (my Dad was Daddy, too)! Great picture of your beautiful family! Handwritten recipes are such a treasure, and so is the picture of your Dad’s hands. Thank you for inviting us over to Cottonwood to visit with you and your family ♥ xo 🙂 (I don’t know anymore, or I’d use them too!)

  72. This made me miss my own Dad. I was the same way about his hands.
    Those recipes are treasures. Earlier, my Daughter asked if I had any written in Mother’s hand. I didn’t but my older sister did. So she sent a couple, Daughter copied them in color so we see the yellowed paper and the drops of whatever staining them. She made a cute scrapbook page with photos of my Mother in the kitchen. Memories to last for generations.
    Mama Bear

  73. Karen P says:

    Susan dear, thank you for sharing your dad with us today. And precious Jack, thank you for being such a great sport and allowing your darling daughter to include this great tribute and photos so we can see from where she came and why she is the awesome person that she is! I love your words “His hands helped to build the house that is my life.” So true. My dad is suffering from Parkinson’s and my mom is unable to care for him so he is in an assisted living home. It breaks my heart every time I visit him there….he belongs at home! But, we are grateful for the time we have with him as he is a wonderful man with a great sense of humor who always cheers us up! (Love the view, too, from that gorgeous home! I’d never want to leave!!!) xoxox…

  74. Gamma Rori says:

    Reading today’s post was pure joy! I too, along with my little sister, refer to our dad as ‘Daddy’. To refer to him any other way would just feel wrong some how.
    Thank you to you and for sharing this delightful rail-trip with us all, it brings back so many wonderful, treasured memories of my own days “on the rails”, lol

    <<>> Rori

    • Gamma Rori says:

      oops, caught a boo boo:

      Thank you to you and JOE for sharing this delightful rail-trip with us all…

      And my Daddy is 84 and going strong! In fact, his Father-in-law just turned 95 three days ago!! (His FIL married much older, lol 🙂 )

  75. Patty says:

    You made me cry and wish to hold my daddy’s hand just once more….tears.
    Thank you….teary smile.

  76. Lin says:

    Lovely post today, Susan! I am lucky enough to have both my Mom and Daddy still with me, still living in the home I grew up in, and it is a gift, isn’t it? Holding hands is pure joy to me, too.

  77. Lori says:

    Oh Sue-Sue, you really got me with this one! So often I read your blog and think … I wish I had her garden, her dishes, her talent, etc. Today, I wish I had the relationship you have with your dad. God bless you both!

    I think you will enjoy this song –

    • sbranch says:

      We are rushing to the train now, I want to write to everyone, and I have to listen to your song later … 🙁 but need to go spend last little bit of time with my dad, and see you all later! Love you all, thank you for your wonderful thoughts!

  78. Jo Ann says:

    Susan, thank you for the beautiful memories of the time with your Dad. It reminded me so much of my father and all the wonderful things he built and did for us with love.
    How fortunate we were to have a strong, loving father.
    I miss my father every day. I am glad you still have your father in your life.

  79. Claudia says:

    Such a sweet entry, Susan. You are blessed to still have your daddy, and what a good one he has been! Give him an extra hug from all of us whose Dad’s are now residents of Heaven! Mine had big strong hands like his, and I too felt such complete SAFETY in his lap, or embrace. He died way too young, and I feel so fortunate to have had such a loving father for as long as I had him.

  80. Francine says:

    Your story brought a tear to my eye. You’re so lucky to still have your dad! I’m your age and my dad died in 1975! He was 51 – too young! I was a daddy’s girl and still miss him so much. But I’ve still got my mom! I recently moved her into assisted living, and I just came back from visiting her and bringing her some cozy new flannel sheets and a cozy new throw – all in purple, her favorite color!

  81. Daena says:

    This post is a lovely record of beautiful memories, Susan. Thank you for sharing them with us. They’ve touched a chord in us all.

    On a practical note, turning the iPad horizontal makes the onscreen keyboard larger. Also, the iPad is compatible with the Apple Wireless Keyboard. It’s not a large keyboard, yet it is bigger than the onscreen one and it’s a regular keyboard. You could ask them to show it to you in one of the stores sometime and see if you think it would help.

  82. Sandra says:

    Oh my gosh, Susan…not nearly a long enough visit with your Daddy! Love this homage to him; he reminds me of my Daddy who just turned 83 last week. Someone asked me if I didn’t feel strange, me at almost 60 calling my “Father”, Daddy. I said, “no, because I call my Father, Abba.” -smile-

  83. julie says:

    Isn’t Cottonwood the sweetest little town? My sister and I are taking our two youngest children (they are 14!) to Jerome (just a little ways up the road from Cottonwood) next week to do the “ghost tour” in preparation for Halloween!
    BTW-the story of your dad made me cry as well. I never had a relationship with my father-he was critical and mean so I stayed to myself. I never really thought I missed the daddy-daughter relationship, but now that I am in my 50’s with two girls of my own, your words made me mourn a relationship that never was. I want a daddy. Love you, you always inspire me.

  84. Regina says:

    Like so many others, I loved your post about your dad. My dad died 5 years ago and I never know when a memory or thought of him will bring tears to my eyes. It’s funny you mentioned your dad’s hands because I have a photo of my dad taken for the church directory with him in a suit and his hands folded in front of him. After looking at that photo I realized that I have my daddy’s hands! He has long fingers and a “strange” thumb and I have it too. And I have the same shade of brown eyes that he had so when I look in the mirror I can “see” him. We just don’t think of these things on a daily basis, usually after someone is gone. My dad used those hands to farm the land for over 45 years. I love Dolly Parton’s song, “Daddy’s Hands.” That would fit your dad too! A friend ofmine took a picture of her parents hands and their bible, with their eyeglasses sitting next to it. Awesome! Enjoy your trip to California, we’ll all be waiting for more photos.

  85. Marilyn Smith says:


    Thank you for sharing your love for your father with us. I lost my father this last January, my mother three weeks before that. I think they could not live without one another. There have been some sweet experiences since then which makes me think my father is still watching over his family with love.

  86. Gert says:


    What a loving and moving post! This brought back wonderful memories of my dad! His name was Jack also, his hands were like your dad’s, strong & yet soft! And yet he was such a hard worker…and a great provider for his family…. Thank you for bringing his memories back to life!

    Love all the pictures! I just know your dad is going to love his birthday gift! ‘We’ are never too old to learn!! lol

    xoxo Gert

    • Christine from Lafayette, CO says:

      Morning Gert!
      I’m getting to know you as a “regular” and enjoy your comments. I thought of you yesterday when my copy of Country came. On the cover of the magazine it says “Autumn blessings” ! That’s your signature sign off 🙂 Hope you have a great day!

  87. Sarah says:

    My grandpa had enormous hands with long slender fingers. His “love pats” could practically send you flying across the room. 🙂 I fell in love with my grandpa one time over dinner. He was trying to make my brother and me eat liver. We told him we would if he would eat a whole can of sardines, which he HATED. He said, “Deal.” So we ate our liver, and he ate those sardines. A man of his word. My kind of guy. One vivid memory I have of him was always dressing up in his suit for church with his pin that indicated he had not missed Sunday School in 25 years (even though he cussed like a sailor. But somehow it worked for him. 🙂 ) And then he would take us out for lunch, and those big hands always seemed to have a big wad of cash at the ready to spoil us.

    Your dad’s hands are magnificent. You don’t pick up a pair of hands like that just anywhere–they have to be EARNED. Like a badge of honor. 🙂

  88. joan says:

    Simply beautiful…

    As soon as I saw those hands, I knew their story was long, deep, and sweet. And his recipe cards, oh, so precious. Those are wonderful keepsakes.

  89. Linda Rae Carhill says:

    I loved your article about your dad! We gave our dad his send off to heaven today. He was 90, was ready to end his journey on earth and was eager to be with Mom. He bravely tried for 1 year and 5 months to live without her and may have lived longer except for some pain in his hands and feet. His hands were large with fingers round as sausages. I wish that I had taken a picture of those hands…

  90. Doreen Strain says:

    Susan, Dads really are wonderful, aren’t they? My Dad passed away 16 yrs. ago. He was 68 yrs. old. Being a nurse, I had the honor of caring for him the last few weeks of his life. He was able to be in his own home and pass from this world to the next right in front of his livingroom picture window in the log cabin home he built himself along with the help of his son & son-in-laws. His last views were of the mountains he could see out through that window. The mountains and the heavens above them. It was such a blessing having the opportunity to return the care my father gave to me as a child. We provided each other with comfort, love and security in knowing all would be okay no matter what the journey held. I was lucky enough to have taken some video of my Dad and to have his voice recorded on it. Now I am able to sit with my cup of tea in the quiet of my home and pop the video in and have a short “visit” with my Dad. If I close my eyes…he is right there with me. Sometimes the tears come…sometimes its a big smile. But whichever, the visit is always wonderful! I love my Daddy too. I held his hand as he expired. What a nice feeling for both of us. I will never forget just how my hand fit inside his. Yes…I too was six again. Love you Daddy! Thanks for bringing this memory to the forefront of my mind. My heart & soul are happy as I think about how he is loved. FOSB 4~Ever! ~ Doreen ~

  91. Terry says:

    You are so blessed to still have your dad! I lost mine when I was only 28 – – – 25 years ago. Your photo and beautiful description of your dad’s hands brought tears to my eyes. I can remember my dad’s hands so vividly. He was the best hugger in the world. I miss him every single day. Thank you for a loving memory. I will sleep really well tonight.

  92. Susan says:

    Those of us who have had such wonderful fathers (or men in our lives) are truly blessed. My father gave his all to his family and shared his love of the outdoors and adventure with us. We climbed the Sierra mountains with him and hid personalized metal tags in the crevices of rocks. We explored the Nevada ghost towns and found treasures such as marbles, buttons and even Indian beads, while the wild horses kept a close eye on us. We learned to downhill ski with rain boots and inter-tube rubber-band bindings on refurbished rental skis. And were the only kids in the neighborhood with a trapeze hanging from the backyard oak tree. He shared everything with us and continues to…being an avid photographer we have thousands of his photographs recording his life and ours. His love of photography has been passed on and even though I favor digital photography I have his collection of cameras on a shelf in my office. Thanks Dad, for everything. And thanks, Susan, for bringing so many wonderful memories back to mind today…

  93. Peggy says:

    The thought of you holding hands with your sweet Daddy got to me. Mine died this year and I am heartbroken. He was very much like yours but with only five kids. Did everything for us, took us everywhere together and because of that we have a wonderful, close family.
    I have been so busy this week with no time to reply to the Twain posts but I have something to write about the Super Chief and I’ll try to get it together. Love your MV necklace, I wear mine always. (unless I switch out and wear the Islander). Thanks for this fabulous blog, it makes me so happy to read it!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Peggy, nice to hear from you … so sorry about your dad … seems so many have lost their fathers, but the memories are just wonderful

  94. Ann says:

    I love the dear picture of you and your dad.
    I feel so very fortunate to still have both of my extraordinary
    parents… they are in their 80’s. Even though I have grown children of my own, I still feel like a girl when I’m with my dad. I find myself looking at him extra hard when I’m leaving their house (the one I grew up in) these days, trying to memorize every detail of that wonderful man–

  95. Ranch Wife says:

    What a precious post! You are very blessed, but you know that. Have you heard the song, “Daddy’s Hands”?
    Reminds me of my Daddy and makes me cry everytime. Thank you for sharing your very touching words and your darling Dad with us!

  96. Mary S. says:

    Thank you for sharing about your father!! I wish I had had a father like that!! But I did have a wonderful grandfather. 🙂

  97. Kathleen Morearty says:

    HI Susan,

    That was just beautiful. I lost my dad a year and a half ago and what I wouldn’t do to be able to put my hand in his hand one more time!

  98. ArlineLA says:

    Such a sweet story! My 93-year-old Mom learned the computer and is a wiz on email. She even has a Facebook page. We find all kinds of things to make it easier. Your Dad needs one of the Apple pointers to make choosing the right keys faster They are $15 from Apple but I found a great one at Marshall’s for $3.99. Thanks for a blog that made me go “Awwww”

  99. Jeannie M from NC says:

    What a special visit! Holding hands with your Dad, so precious!

    Hugs, xoxo

  100. Cheryl Colazas says:

    You could have been writing about my dad! I loved my dad’s hands too, they were work worn, but very gentle. I was holding my dad’s hand when he passed away in July. My dad wasn’t perfect, but I always knew he loved us (5 kids in our family) and did his best everyday. He wrote a letter to be read at his funeral, in it he told us not to be sad because he was back with the love of his life (our mom) and he was happy again. Pretty amazing coming from a man who never finished high school and worked as a plumber his whole life!

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