Saturday, May 30, 2015

Hands

I have my father's hands.

And yet, as my mind allows my gaze to shift downward, it is your hands I see.  I wear your rings now.  The same rings you always wore, the ones you were concerned about shortly after your voice returned, following the removal of the life-supporting ventilator which sustained you for days.  They had been removed and placed in a sterile specimen container for safe keeping.  

I wear them now and remove them only when absolutely necessary; my hands become your hands. My touch becomes your touch.

I remember your hands well.  Not as well as your hair, but close.  

The memories:  When you picked me up from daycare (how I hated day care), I remember the touch and feel of your leather gloved hand in mine.  Finally time to go home.  I remember the feel of your fingers, massaging my scalp at the sink when you washed me hair before cutting it, and the cutting, the easy, natural way you combed and separated each section before the swift shearing of the ends, watching them drop, some upon your hand, my shoulder, the floor.  'Look at all that hair!' you'd exclaimed every time. 
I remember them slicing and peeling vegetables for dinner, how you never used a peeler, but instead, carefully slid the blade of the knife along the edge of a potato or cucumber.  'That's the way grandpa does it, and that's how I do it.'
One of my favorite memories of your affection comes from evening time, when you'd position yourself slightly sideways on the couch, reading a book while dad sat in his chair watching TV (or sleeping, as was usually the case).  Even as I grew older and rebellious, I'd find comfort in laying my head upon your lap and feeling your fingertips softly stroke my hair.  I don't recall ever feeling so comfortable as I did then.  When I was sick, you'd get me orange juice.  In the night, if I'd been coughing awhile, you'd show up (what time was it?) with a tablespoon of cough syrup and it always worked.  

When I returned to work at school after your funeral, the student I worked side by side with every day (who had missed me tremendously but found himself very sympathetic about my loss of you), asked me about the black onyx.  I told him it was yours and that it was your 8th grade graduation present.  He seemed amazed by that, telling me it was so old.  We smiled over that, and then, he looked closer, touched its shiny black surface and asked, 'Is your mom's soul in there?'

Not exactly, inquisitive one, but pretty darn close.