When my Dad started Grade One in Forestburg Alberta, the teacher noticed he was left handed so she tied his hand to the desk every day and forced him to learn to write and do all his work with his right hand. Throughout his life this cruel little action was to cause him some confusion.
When he went home and told his mother, she had her own teacher’s certificate so she taught him to write with his left hand at home. She herself was left handed and knew all too well the methods that schools used.
One of the most obvious confusions for him was his sense of direction. If you told him to turn left, he would automatically turn right. This was not a lot of fun in a city the size of Vancouver when you found yourself going down a one way street the wrong way. It impacted his ability to follow directions on a map as he had to always stop and think which was left and which was right. Mom would hold up her left hand if she wanted him to turn left and the same with her right hand. After some practice, it seemed to work well and we only ended up in the wrong place a few times.
Dad would set the table on occasion and we always knew it was him because everything was set up backwards. When he washed dishes, he set up the dish tray opposite to what the rest of us did! When he used the electric stove he would have to stop and read the dials as he had the impulse to turn the dial the wrong way.
He put on all the taps inside the house on the wrong side. Hot was cold and cold was hot…I never knew the difference as we just accepted it as the norm until I went to other people’s houses and wondered why their taps were different! They also turned the opposite direction too! Every door in the house was hung on the wrong side of the door frame and with the pins in the wrong place. They all worked but on occasion caused some problems because in an emergency the pins were not readily accessible and the doorknobs were in the wrong place as well.
On the bright side, Dad learned to write with both hands. He had beautiful handwriting too! He threw a ball with both hands but preferred throwing left handed and he batted both left and right. He was comfortable with tools in either hand which helped out a great deal when building something that required a left handed approach or a right handed approach but was much faster using his left hand.
When I think about his children, Sandra, myself and Norma, it is interesting that only Norma was left handed but what about his grandchildren? Sandra and Frank’s children Angela and Dean are both left handed. Angela’s two children Sophie and Nicolas are left handed and Dean and Elena’s daughter Ali is left handed. Little Dylan is the only right handed one!!! That left handed gene must be a very strong one!
I remember something else about my Dad’s hands. They were not smooth but were the hands of a labourer. They were rough to touch and he had many scars but it didn’t matter to us…we loved just holding his hand when we were little and when we danced together I loved the feel of his hand holding mine and his other hand on my back as we danced. I miss those times and miss my Dad!