His Hands

​His gigantic hands had always been one of his most defining features. Symbolic of his powerful presence, his hands were a reminder of the unspoken strength he possessed. A man of few words, swarthy and stoic at first glance, he command attention without a word. People yearned to chisel through his hardened exterior just to get a glimpse of what was underneath. When he did speak, it was captivating and he left all who listened starving for more.
I was one of his greatest admirers. I liked to think I knew him better than anyone else, but I only knew what he chose to share. I paid close attention to his hands. Gnarled knuckles and scars from a much harder life than mine. His hands could make me cower in fear without even touching me, but they also made me feel safe and secure. His hands revealed his best and his worst.
I had watched his hands slowly shrink over the years. Part of it was that I continued to grow, so by comparison he seemed smaller and smaller. But little by little, his hands began to wrinkle and shrivel. It was barely noticeable to someone who didn’t see him everyday, but I noticed.
Eventually everyone else could see it too. His hands were tired and arthritic, a reflection of his declining health. His quick reflexes faded and his grip weakened. He had been holding on so tightly to life that it all began to slip through his fingers. He could scarcely hold the bottle that brought him the comfort and relief that nothing else provided.
I got to sit with him one last time, his hand in mine- withered, cold and stiff. He was unrecognizable from the man I had grown up watching, yet he was still my broken hero. I put my head on his chest and wept. I looked at his palms and fingers. They were tiny, fragile and frail. I clutched tight, not wanting the moment to end, but knowing it must. I said my goodbyes… and reluctantly, I let go.
Goodnight, dad.
~ S.D.  

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